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Jay Goyal is Democrat's 'poster boy'

April 12, 2007 02:58 IST

Young Indian Americans like Ohio legislator Jay Goyal represent the new face of the Democratic Party, believes Democratic Party chief Howard Dean.

"Jay Goyal is a perfect example of what we are trying to accomplish with the Indo-American Leadership Council," he said during a conference call from the Democratic National Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill to announce the new co-chairs of the DNC's Indo-American Leadership Council.

"The American people are now electing members of groups indiscriminately of race and ethnicity -- the idea that African Americans can only run in African American districts and Hispanics can only run in Hispanic districts or that Indo-Americans would only represent Indo-Americans, is simply not true anymore," he said.

"Jay won in an overwhelmingly Anglo district in Ohio – in rural Ohio."

Goyal, of Mansfield, Ohio, and a life-long resident of Richland County, is vice president of a family-owned manufacturing business, Goyal Industries, that specializes in products for the mass transit and passenger rail car industry nationwide. He won last November from the state's 73rd District. The seat was held by Democratic Representative Bill Harnett, who retired in 2006 due to term limits.

Dean noted how Goyal's "father had come and started a very successful manufacturing there. Jay grew up there and decided he wanted to serve his district and at 26

years old is now a member of the Ohio state legislature in the seat that was occupied 32 years ago by US Senator Sherrod Brown. So he has a very bright future," Dean predicted.

Goyal, whose parents are originally from Madhya Pradesh, told India Abroad during the run-up to the election that "Sherrod has offered me his full support and has been very encouraging. His mother Emily Brown is on my campaign team."

The 73rd District has a population of 110,000, with approximately 70,000 registered voters, and the largest metropolitan area is Mansfield with a population of 50,000.

According to Goyal, "African Americans make up approximately 12 percent of the district and there are may be only about 200 to 250 Indian Americans in the district."

His father Prakash is the founder and president of Goyal Industries. His mother Kiran is an investment adviser with KeyBank. Goyal's sister Anjali, 27, lives in New York and works at a non-profit that promotes Asian American literature.

Dean said besides Goyal, the other Indian-American state legislators also had "a very bright future," and specifically mentioned Minnesota state Senator Satveer Chaudhary, Maryland House Majority Leader Kumar Barve, Iowa state legislator Swati Dandekar and New Jersey state legislator Upendra Chivukula. But he forgot to mention Rajiv Goyle, who also won a state House seat last November from Kansas, another Mid-West state like Ohio.

"I don't want to go through the whole list of wonderfully well qualified people who happen to be Indian American," said Dean.

Shekar Narasimhan, who was appointed as a co-chair of the DNC's Indo-American Leadership Council along with Dr Mahinder Tak by Dean, said Goyal would be a poster-boy for the Council as it promotes other young Indian Americans to run for local, county, state and national office.

"Jay Goyal knocked on 13,000 doors in order to get elected in Ohio," he said. "He convinced people one at a time that the fact that he happened to be Indian American is less important than the issues he cared about and the fact that he lived in Ohio and his parents and family had made Ohio their home."

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC