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Indian American re-elected to New Jersey state house

Chivkula, who has been elected for the third time, now has his eye on the US House of Representatives.

india Updated: Nov 10, 2005 12:42 IST

Upendra Chivukula, the first Asian American to be elected to the New Jersey State's General Assembly in 2002, was re-elected to the seat for the third time.

The Indian American, a Democrat from New Jersey, was re-elected to the general assembly District 17 with 32.39 percent (27,364) of the vote.

At the same time, Chivkula has his eye on any possible openings in the future to the US House of Representatives in Washington. Now with the election of Senator John Corzine (Democrat-New Jersey) to the governor's office in New Jersey, the Senate seat is wide open, one that is being actively eyed by Representative Frank Pallone and others.

If Pallone runs for Senate, Chivukula has told IANS, he is ready and waiting to run for the US House of Representatives.

"I have brought $4.9 million into the district to provide aid to various municipalities; the various legislations I have sponsored, some in process, such as Prompt-pay laws for healthcare providers to compensate, better definition of customer care so that insurance companies cannot escape their responsibilities. This is a work in progress. You keep working on it," said Chivukula, who has sponsored a science and technology caucus in the state legislature, and was instrumental in establishing the World Languages and International Studies Caucus.

"The most important issue facing people are property taxes and how to provide relief," he said, adding, "Number two is how to make healthcare affordable and providing access to healthcare."

He noted: "We need to grow the economy by investing in more companies and creating jobs. Also, we need to put money into research, stem cell, into the commission on science and technology to promote technology; to create and help small businesses, minority and women businesses," all of which the state was doing in some measure, but more needed to be done, he emphasized.

Chivukula has a committee that is exploring his bid for the US Congress. Called "Chivukula for Congress" the committee also has a website.

"That is a long term plan. A lot of times opportunities come and you have a window of opportunity. So you have to be ready for it. I'm getting ready for the Congressional run for the House seat when the opportunity presents itself," he said.

"That could come in 2006 if the seat opens up. If it doesn't happen then, the next opportunity is in 2008," he noted.

US Senator Frank Lautenberg will be 84 years old soon, and observers say he may choose not to run for office again. In that case, US House Representative Rush Holt has indicated he will run for the seat Lautenberg lets go. That would leave a House seat open, one that Chivukula may try for come 2006.

"We don't have a crystal ball but we have to be ready," he said, adding that people in the Democratic Party had been generally supportive, "Meanwhile, I continue to serve the people of New Jersey."

Chivukula is an electrical engineer by training, and managing Director of the Antartica Group. He was elected to the Franklin Township Council in 1997, and to the state general assembly in 2002.

He has been married to Dayci Chivukula for 26 years and the couple has two children, a son Suraj and daughter, Damianty.

First Published: Nov 10, 2005 12:42 IST