Keeping a promise he made to Parsippany's Indian-American community on the campaign trail four years ago, Mayor James Barberio Sunday announced a new special volunteer liaison to that demographic: Jigar Shah.
According to his LinkedIn page, Shah is president of Mount Tabor's D K International LLC, a subsidiary of the Veerprabhu Export House, of which he is a principal. The company specializes in the international export of food products and spices from India.
He came to Parsippany in 1974 and attended Montclair State University.
He is the uncle of Amil Shah, a member of the Parsippany Zoning Board of Adjustment, and Milin Shah, who is poised to run in the Town Council primary election as part of Mayor Barberio's re-election ticket.
Shah is known in Parsippany for his work for Republican campaigns and candidates in recent years. He was named in connection with alleged absentee ballot fraud in the 2011 primary while working for council candidates Michael dePierro, Vincent Ferrara, John Fox, Brian Stanton, who collectively were known as Team Parsippany. (The councilmen denied wrongdoing in the matter, which arose during the contested freeholder race between Margaret Nordstrom and current Freeholder William "Hank" Lyon.)
Ultimately the matter surrounding the absentee votes went to a state appellate court, which wrote in its decision a year ago:
Twelve voters—all who supposedly submitted mail-in ballots and who lived in the same apartment building in Parsippany—testified at trial. The undisputed evidence revealed that some of these voters denied receiving their mail-in ballots, some admitted that their signatures appeared on their Vote by Mail applications, and some denied that the signatures were theirs. Others indicated that although their signatures appeared genuine, other writings on the Vote by Mail applications were in someone else's handwriting. ...
An additional witness, Jigar Shah, testified that he collected ballots for people in the community and transported them to the Morris County Board of Elections. He said that he did not witness anyone fill in a ballot or sign a Vote by Mail envelope. Although he did not know the exact number of ballots for which he was the bearer, he said it was possibly 32. He did not collect ballots directly from the voters.
Shah could not remember the names of those who actually handed him ballots. He also was unaware that he was required to sign the outer envelope in the voter's presence to ensure that the ballot was valid.
Neither Shah, who never was charged officially with any offense, nor the state attorney general's office were available for comment.
In a press statement, Shah is described as a "tireless advocate" for Indian-Americans.
“Jigar is the perfect person for this position,” the mayor is quoted as saying. “Hundreds, if not thousands of Indian-Americans in Parsippany have relationships with Jigar that stem for nearly two decades."
He added that Shah has served informally as a bridge between Barberio's Town Hall and Indian-Americans in Parsippany since the administration's start in 2009.
He said Indian-Americans make vital contributions to the township, including places of worship, restaurants, dance studios, beauty salons and a host of small businesses.
"Indian-Americans have become an essential part of Parsippany, and one of the reasons why Parsippany is ranked the #1 township to live in New Jersey,” said Barberio.
In 2009, he promised the Indian-American community a special liaison to help voice their concerns and issues directly with the administration. He described the creation of this volunteer position as a step forward for the community, which the U.S. Census Bureau shows as the fastest growing culture in Parsippany, Morris County and New Jersey.
A crowd of more than 100 turned out for the Town Hall ceremony. Among the attendees were U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, Morris County Freeholder Ann Grossi, Parsippany Town Council President Brian Stanton, Council Vice President Vincent Ferrara and Councilmen Michael dePierro and Jonathan Nelson.