PATERSON, NJ - Assad R. Akhter was sworn in this week as Passaic County's first South Asian American and first Muslim to serve as a Freeholder in Passaic County.

“Akhter is a person who believes in community service regardless of working on Capitol Hill or Seton Hall University. He always put the people first,” said Freeholder Director T.J. Best Jr.

Akhter is a graduate from Seton Hall University and was named deputy chief of staff for Congressman William J. Pascrell Jr. in 2011.

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The Honorable John Currie spoke at the ceremony about the efforts and projects Akhter has been involved in. Currie said that Akhter has "worked in our communities, improving public safety, and the roads for pedestrians and vehicles.

"This is why today is historic,' he said, "because Akhter earned this.”

As a former employer of Akhter, Pascrell reminisced on one of the first things he said to Akhter.

“Akhter comes from a great background," he said. "Think of where you came from, how you got here, and all the family that helped you along your way.”

Pascrell stressed the importance of surrounding oneself with good people.

“If you don't have good people around you, you will sink, he said. "Staff is strength, and Akhter just gained a huge political family that will be here to help.”

Diversity and culture was the topic of the speakers during the ceremony.

“In order to make the best decisions, we must be understanding, and that is why culture is important," Pascrell stated. "Culture is the beauty of the world.”

Akhter was sworn with his hand on the Quran surrounded by his family. Akhter thanked the board for allowing him to serve beside them. Pascrell was especially thanked by Akhter for “preparing me and encouraging me to understand that diversity is an asset in this world.”

“Bill Pascrell is a man who believes that good government is good politics," he said. "I look forward to serving this community.”