Posted on December 6, 2020

The Finale: 2020 Election Results for Candidates
from the Turkish American Community
We Have Four Winners!

The Turkish American community witnessed the highest number of candidates running for public office in 2020 with 13 members of the community declaring their candidacy for federal, state, and local positions. California led in the most candidates with five followed by New Jersey with two. The following six states had one candidate each—Arizona, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

The scoreboard for the year was four wins and nine losses. Here are the winners:


Aycha Sirvanci Sawa was elected on April 7 as Milwaukee’s City Comptroller (nonpartisan position) in Wisconsin. She is the first Turkish American elected as a chief financial officer for a major American city and the second woman elected to a city office in Milwaukee.


Tayfun Selen (R), was reelected on November 3 as a Freeholder (County Commissioner) of the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders (County Commissioners) in New Jersey.



Ben Bartlett, spouse of Yelda Mesbah Bartlett, was reelected on November 3 as Council member (nonpartisan position) of the Berkeley City Council in California.



Leah Ersoylu, spouse of Sarp Ersoylu, was elected on November 3 as Trustee (nonpartisan position) of the Newport Mesa United School District in Orange County, California.


Our thanks and appreciation to the following candidates who were courageous to run for public office and gave a good fight but did not win their elections. We applaud their efforts and strongly encourage them to consider running for public office again.



Aylin Acikalin (D), candidate for Judge of New Orleans First City Court in Louisiana.

John Alpay, ran for Councilmember (nonpartisan position) of the San Jan Capistrano City Council in California.

Onur Arugaslan, ran for Trustee (nonpartisan position) of the Mattawan Consolidated Schools Board of Education in Michigan.

Alp Basaran (D), candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, New Jersey 9th congressional district.

Zarina Kiziloglu, spouse of Kursad Kiziloglu, ran for Councilmember (nonpartisan position) of the Pleasanton City Council in California.

Ajlan Kurdoglu (D), candidate for the Arizona State Senate in Legislative District 17.

Sezin Palmer, ran for Board Member (nonpartisan position) of the Howard County Public Schools Board of Education District 4 in Maryland.

Ceylan Rowe (D), candidate for the Massachusetts House of Representatives, 12th Worcester District.

Cenk Uygur (D), candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, California 25th congressional district.