Neil Makhija to contest for Commissioner of Montgomery County


Indian-American in race for top post in Pennsylvania county.(photo:Neil Makhija)

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Indian American attorney and educator Neil Makhija will be contesting the elections for Commissioner of Montgomery County — the third largest county in Pennsylvania with over 865,000 people. 36-year-old Makhija, the election law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, if elected, would be the first South Asian member to serve for the position left open by outgoing commissioner Valerie Arkoosh. Montgomery County Commission is the governing body of Montgomery County, consisting of 5 members who are elected by districts.

Each Commissioner is elected to a 4-year term and represents approximately 45,000 constituents. The Commission’s responsibilities include control of all county public funds, adoption of an annual budget reflecting anticipated income and expenses. The board oversees an annual budget of more than $500 million.

Makhija recently announced leave from serving as Executive Director of IMPACT, the nation’s leading South Asian civic organization, to join the electoral race. In 2021, Makhija was one of 13 civil rights leaders invited to the White House to advise President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on voting rights. He was named by City & State PA as one of the “40 under 40” most influential people in Pennsylvania politics.

In his former law practice, Makhija advocated on issues of mental health and addiction. He represented Pennsylvania counties in opioid litigation, notably, children and parents in an early class action against Big Tobacco companies who marketed flavored e-cigarettes to children.

In 2019, he inspired and advised a US House Oversight Committee panel on an investigation into the youth e-cigarette epidemic, which led to a nationwide ban of flavoured e-cigarettes. While at Harvard, he founded the HLS Homelessness Coalition and was a Senior Policy Editor on the Harvard Law and Policy Review. He received his BA from Sarah Lawrence College, where he studied neuroscience and served as co-president of his class and 2009 commencement speaker.

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