Ravinder Bhalla on Tuesday became the first ever Sikh mayor of New Jersey’s Hoboken city in a closely contested mayoral battle. Bhalla announced his victory on Twitter saying, “Thank you Hoboken. I look forward to being your Mayor!”

Bhalla has been on the city council for more than seven years, PTI reported. He had the endorsement of the current Mayor, Dawn Zimmer, who said she would not seek a third term in office.

Just days before the city voted, flyers labelling Bhalla a terrorist were spotted on car windscreens on November 3. The flyer, in a large red font written over Bhalla’s picture, said: “Do not let TERRORISM take over our Town!”

Soon after, Bhalla wrote on Twitter that the incident was troubling, but “we will not let hate win”. “There has been an undercurrent of racism that I have seen in this campaign,” he told New York Daily News then. “That sort of whispering campaign has come to the surface now, where people have the audacity to send a flyer like that.”

After his win on Tuesday, Bhalla thanked his supporters for “having faith in me, for having faith in our community, faith in our state, and faith in our country. This is what America is all about”.

“We have been through a bruising campaign… but now is time we come together and see who we can work with to bring this city forward,” he said.