Updated June 18, 2020
John Alpay, a resident of San Clemente, served as Area 3 Trustee for the Capistrano Unified School District, the ninth largest school district in California from November 2010 until 2016. He previously served as a Parks & Recreation Commissioner for San Clemente, and on the Budget & Finance Committee for Talega, his 3200 unit homeowners association. He remains as a director for the Spanish Village Foundation, a local nonprofit. John is also involved with the San Clemente Sunrise Rotary and the Hawaiian Surf Club of San Onofre. He and his wife Rochelle have three children together.
Kemal Bozkurt was elected to the board of Lawrence Public Schools (Massachusetts) in 2015 and served until 2016. In Lawrence, he served as Acting Director and Assistant Director of the Public Library and was a member of the Zoning Board. Bozkurt completed his undergraduate studies at Selcuk and Anadolu Universities in Turkey and received a Master’s Degree in Banking and Insurance from Marmara University. He also received a Master’s Degree in Library Information Science from Syracuse University. He has lived in Lawrence for over 20 years. He and his wife have three children.
Esin Busche previously served as Naperville Township Trustee, a member of the Fair Housing Advisory Commission, and a Republican Precinct committeewoman in Naperville, IL. She has also served as membership chairman for the Naperville Republican Women for three terms and was the Naperville campaign coordinator for the presidential and governor/lieutenant governor races in 2004 and 2006. Esin has a M.A. in Chemistry works for the Dow Chemical Company. She currently lives on the south side of Naperville Township with her husband and son.
Hacibey ‘Haci’ Catalbasoglu was elected as an Independent in the November 7, 2017 general election to the Board of Alders for Ward 1 in New Haven, Connecticut. Haci is 19 years old and a junior at Yale University. He is the youngest Turkish American to ever run and be elected to public office. He is also one of the youngest Alders to ever serve on the Board of Alders in New Haven. In 2017, he was nominated to serve on the city’s Commission on Homelessness after many years of volunteering and advocacy for the New Haven Livable City Initiative through New Haven’s Youth@Work program. He was recommended for confirmation to the Commission by a unanimous vote of the Board of Alders’ Aldermanic Affairs Committee on April 24, 2017. As a member of the Commission, Haci is tasked with advising New Haven Mayor Toni Harp on how to actively combat the homelessness epidemic in New Haven. In the summer of 2016, he had the opportunity to intern for U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT).
Hon. Jay Karahan
Judge Jay (Ceyhun) Karahan was elected to judicial office in November 2002 and was sworn in as Judge of Harris County Criminal Court-at-Law No. 8 on January 1, 2003. He was re-elected to that office 3 more times and served until December 31, 2018, when he retired from active judicial service. Judge Karahan is a native of Tampa, Florida. Judge Karahan moved to Texas in 1979 to study law at South Texas College of Law. In 1987, the U.S. Attorney General appointed him an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Texas. As a federal prosecutor he served in the Major Offender Division, Bank Fraud Task Force, and as a district coordinator for child exploitation investigations and prosecutions. As both a state and federal prosecutor Judge Karahan tried to jury verdict over 100 serious felony cases. He is licensed to practice before the Texas Supreme Court, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Judicial Circuit. Since 1988 Judge Karahan has been certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization as a Criminal Law Specialist.
Hon. Ali Paksoy
Judge Ali Paksoy serves as a district court judge for the 27B Judicial District of North Carolina, which presides over Cleveland and Lincoln countries. Judge Paksoy received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his J.D. from the University of Alabama.
Aycha (Sirvanci) Sawa was elected as City Comptroller, a nonpartisan position, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on April 7, 2020. She is the 12th Turkish American elected to public office, the first Turkish American to become a Chief Financial Officer for a major American city, and the second woman elected as a city official in Milwaukee. Sawa is a first-generation Turkish American born in Milwaukee. As a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a Certified Internal Auditor, she has served as Deputy Comptroller in Milwaukee for three years before becoming Comptroller. She has an undergraduate degree in Accounting and Management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After graduation, Sawa worked as an auditor in the state of Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation and a CPA firm before joining Milwaukee’s Comptroller Office. At the University of Wisconsin, she was an officer in the Madison Association of Turkish Students and started a Turkish film festival in Madison. She also attended a semester at Bosphorus University as an exchange student. Sawa has been an active member of the Turkish American Association in Milwaukee. She is married to Drew Sawa, and they have one daughter.
Tayfun Selen of Chatham, New Jersey, a Republican, was elected on February 1, 2020 as a Morris County Freeholder (County Commissioner) to fill a vacant seat on the Morris County seven-member Board of Chosen Freeholders (County Commissioners). He had served as the Chatham Township (Morris County) Mayor as well as on the Chatham Borough Zoning Board of Adjustment and the Chatham Municipal Committee. He is a member of the Morris County Republican Committee and Chairman of the Chatham Township Republican Committee. Selen is an architect, accountant, and businessman who serves on the Advisory Board for Montclair State University’s School of Business. He previously held a seat on his local Board of Adjustment. Selen holds a BS in Architecture from Istanbul Technical University and an MBA from Montclair State University in New Jersey.
Turkish-American businesswoman Derya Taskin was appointed to serve as the deputy mayor of Paterson, NJ in January 2016. Taskin also serves as the president of Paterson Turkish American Association and was appointed to be the Commissioner of the Library and Museum Board for Paterson in 2010. In her new position, she will act as a liaison between city hall and the Turkish community, which is growing rapidly and flourishing in the city. According to Taskin, she will act as “a bridge between, to resolve any problems Turks in the city may encounter.” She also wants to focus on increasing commercial ties between Turkey and Paterson. The non-paying position of deputy mayor was created by city hall in 2014 to boost community ties and the mayor had earlier announced he was planning to appoint two deputy mayors apart from the existing ones, one from the Turkish community and one from the Bangladeshi community, which also has a sizeable population in the city.
Malik Tunador ran and won a seat on the Council of the Thornburg Borough of Allegheny County, PA in the early 1990s. Tunador has been living in Thornburg Borough since 1976 and served one term on the Borough Council.
Dr. Erdem Ural
Dr. Erdem Ural was elected in to the Stoughton School Committee in Stoughton, Massachusetts in 2008. He served in that position from 2008 to 2011. In 2012, Ural was re-elected to the School Committee, serving until 2015. Dr. Ural holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan. He has resided in Stoughton for over 30 years and is married with 2 children.
Mehmet “Matt” Yar
Mehmet “Matt” Yar was elected to the Bloomfield County Education Board in New Jersey in 1998 and served until 2001. He chose not to run for a second term. When another board member resigned in 2002, Yar was appointed by the local election committee to fill the vacated seat. His second period of service on the board lasted until 2004.