Two Indian Americans Win Democratic Primaries for Illinois State Legislature

Nabeela Syed, 23, and Kevin Olickal, 29, will be running against Republican candidates in November.

4 min read
Hindi Female

Two Indian American candidates have taken the next step towards becoming the first South Asian Americans in the Illinois State Legislature.

Nabeela Syed, 23, won the Democratic primary for the 51st House District, and Kevin Olickal, 29, won the Democratic primary for the 16th House District, in elections held on Tuesday, 28 June. Counting of the votes was completed early morning on Wednesday, 29 June.

As reported by American Kahani, Syed was declared a winner against Chelsea Laiberte Barnes by a significant margin. Syed had 6,624 votes or 72.32 percent while Barnes had 2,541 or 27.7 percent, with 95 percent of the votes counted. In November 2022, Syed will be running against Republican incumbent Chris Bos.

Olickal, a progressive Democrat, scored a lead of more than 500 votes against incumbent Denyse Wang Stoneback.

Olickal won 4,555 votes or 52.7 percent versus Stoneback's 4,090 or 47.3 percent, according to the data published by the Chicago Tribune.

The 16th House District, which is the area that Olickal won, includes areas of Skokie, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove and Chicago's 40th and 50th wards.

The race for the 16th House District was akin to a rematch between Olickal and Stoneback, from two years ago when they both ran for the seat against State Representative Mark Kalis. Back then, Olickal lost to Stoneback by more than 3,000 votes and came up last in a three-way primary.

Meanwhile, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, a well-known figure in the Illinois circuit, and three-term Congressman, won the Democratic primary from the state's 8th Congressional District on Wednesday, 29 June. He defeated his challenger Junaid Ahmed, an Indian American.

Krishnamoorthi received 28,222 or 70.5 percent of the votes while Ahmed received 11,816 or 29.5 percent, with 85 percent of the precincts reporting, according to the Chicago Tribune data.

Krishnamoorthi might be facing GOP candidate Chris Dargis who is expected to win the Republican primary.


Nabeela Syed Plans To Empower Women and Build a Better Illinois

Nabeela Syed, 23, and Kevin Olickal, 29, will be running against Republican candidates in November.

Nabeela Syed won the Democratic primary for the 51st House District in Illinois. 

(Photo Courtesy: Official Website of Nabeela Syed)

Nabeela Syed is one of the younger Indian Americans running for State Representative in Illinois. She is striving to represent the "suburban community" she was born and raised in.

Syed promises to be an advocate for causes that the community members hold dear to their hearts, such as equal rights, healthcare, education, and taxes.

According to her website, Syed is running "to build a better Illinois for residents today and tomorrow – an Illinois with a strong economy, sustainable infrastructure, and affordable healthcare, and higher education."

Syed currently works for a non-profit, helping them in digital strategy and supporting a myriad of civic engagement initiatives, for example, mobilising voters, curbing sexual assault on college campuses, and enhancing gender equity, according to her official website.

Having graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a degree in Political Science and Business, she served as the president of a pro-bono consulting organisation that helped local businesses.

Syed is active in her religious community at the Islamic Society of Northwest Suburbs and advocates interfaith dialogue and aims to empower young Muslim women to lead.

Kevin Olickal Wants To Ensure Every Community Has a Voice in Government

Nabeela Syed, 23, and Kevin Olickal, 29, will be running against Republican candidates in November.

Kevin Olickal, 29, won the Democratic nomination for the 16th District in Illinois State Legislature. 

(Photo Courtesy: Official website of Kevin Olickal)

According to his website, Kevin Olickal is "committed to fighting for middle-class and working families, ensuring that every community has a voice in government."

Olickal was born and raised in Skokie, Illinois, to Malayali parents who immigrated to the United States in late 1980s. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Biology at the Ohio State University, he returned to Illinois to engage in public service and build a career in advancing and protecting the progressive values that enabled his family to become successful in the US.

Olickal works part-time towards his Juris Doctorate at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he worked as a Cook County Recovery Specialist at the National Partnership for New Americans providing relief to small businesses and non-profits.

Although Olickal is a Democrat, his passion for politics came from his uncle Mathew Olickal, a Republican who began engaging Indian Americans in the 1970s and 1980s by getting immersed in local politics.

"His motto was to encourage political participation of the local Indian American community, although I must add he was a great admirer of President Obama," said Olickal.

Raja Krishnamoorthi To Fight for Fundamental Freedoms In November 2022

Three-term Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi will continue focus on fundamental freedoms and human rights now that he has secured the Democratic nomination for US House in Illinois' 8th Congressional District.

Krishnamoorthi, 49, who received about 70 percent of the votes, was born into a Tamil-speaking family in New Delhi, India and moved to Buffalo, New York, when he was three months old so that his father could attend graduate school, according to a report by the American Bazaar.

"My constituents want peace, progress, and prosperity. In Congress, I have fought to grow the middle class, fight for women's reproductive rights, and combat inflation and increasing gas prices. I will continue to work tirelessly to address these issues in the important months ahead."
Raja Krishnamoorthi, Congressman from Illinois' 8th Congressional District

Krishnamoorthi serves on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, is the vice-chair of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, and is the co-chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Immigration Task Force.

He has also pushed for immigration reform in the United States in order to keep the country ahead.

(With inputs from Associated Press, The Chicago Tribune, American Kahani, and American Bazaar)

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