South Asian-Origin Elected Officials Sworn In in Austin, Houston and Richmond

Manpreet “Monica” Singh was sworn in as judge in Harris County.

HOUSTON: Two Texans made history this week as the first Muslims and first South Asians ever to be sworn into the state legislature.

Salman Bhojani and Dr. Suleman Lalani took their oaths of office as Democrat state representatives on Tuesday when both the Senate and House met for the 88th legislative session.

On Jan. 1, 2023, Fort Bend County officials who won or kept their positions in the November elections—including County Judge KP George—were sworn in at a ceremony held at 10 a.m. at the Fort Bend County Justice Center.
The other elected officials sworn in included 240th District Court Judge, Surendran K. Pattel and Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace, Sonia Rash. Juli A. Mathew was reelected as a judge of the Fort Bend County Court at Law No 3. She was sworn in as the judge through videoconference from her in-law’s house at Bheemanady in Kasaragod, Kerala.
Manpreet Monica Singh has been sworn in as a Harris county judge, becoming the first female Sikh judge in the US. Ms Singh was born and raised in Houston and now lives in Bellaire with her husband and two children. She was sworn in as a judge of the Harris County Civil Court at Law No. 4 in Texas on Friday. Ms Singh’s father immigrated to the US in the early 1970s.

While most representatives held one hand up and placed their other over the Bible, Reps. Bhojani and Lalani each placed one of their hands on the Quran, the central religious text of Islam. Bhojani said the Quran he used was the first English version of the text ever printed in the Americas.

Both men immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan, each with a different dream. Bhojani started businesses as an entrepreneur before becoming an attorney. Lalani focused on helping others through medicine.
Now, both hope to build a legacy through their service in Texas government.

“It is a moment of responsibility. Being first of anything is not easy,” Lalani said.

“I think about all the youth that are out there, that are thinking about running for office or getting politically active,”
Bhojani added. “I just want to let them know, you can do it. If I can do it, you know, being born in Pakistan, coming here as an immigrant at 19 years old, mopping floors for six bucks-an-hour at gas stations. Now that I’m here, I feel really blessed. It’s a really big honor.”

Bhojani hopes to focus on education, healthcare and economy, while Lalani will work to improve access to healthcare for all Texans.

To be elected as one of the 150 representatives in the Texas House, a person must have lived in the state for at least two years and in the district they will represent for at least one year, according to Texas law. They have to be at least 21 years old, a U.S. citizen and a “qualified elector,” meaning they aren’t restricted from voting for any reason.
Bhojani will represent District 92, which covers parts of Arlington, Bedford and Euless in North Texas, and Lalani will represent District 76 in Fort Bend County near Houston.