Mundelein candidate's comment about Asian people blasted as racist

A Mundelein village board candidate's claim that Asian people are smarter than others was criticized as racist and inappropriate during an online forum Thursday.

Ramesh C. Sharma, who is of Indian descent, made and confirmed the remark while he and other trustee candidates participated in a joint interview with the Daily Herald.

Sharma is joined in the race for three board seats by incumbents Kara Lambert, Kerston Russell and Erich Schwenk, and former board member Robin Meier.

About 30 minutes into the discussion, the candidates were asked about the village's efforts to promote diversity and inclusion.

As part of his response, Sharma - a retiree who unsuccessfully ran for a seat on the local park district board in 2019 - complained about the lack of Asian Americans on the village board, and claimed few are on the village payroll.

"Do you know the Asian people are the brain? They are the brain," he said. Sharma went on to ask the panelists, "Are you people afraid of those people? Why?"

When Sharma finished, Schwenk asked him to confirm he just said Asian people are smarter than others.

"Of course they are," Sharma responded.

When asked by the Daily Herald to elaborate, Sharma said Asian people are more educated than those who are Latino, white or Black.

"That's my opinion," Sharma said. "I believe it."

Schwenk, a trustee since 2019, called Sharma's comments "racist and inappropriate."

Lambert, a trustee since 2019, said she found the comment offensive "as a woman who has a master's degree."

Russell, a trustee since 2015, said he disagrees with Sharma's entire statement.

Meier, who has served two stints on the board and ran for mayor in 2021, called Sharma's remark inappropriate and "very divisive."

The local consolidated election is April 4.

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Mundelein village board candidates (top from left) Russell Kerston, Kara Lambert, Robin Meier and (bottom from left) Erich Schwenk and Ramesh C. Sharma are on the April 4, 2023 ballot.
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