Jersey-boy mayor will work to unite na­tions

Amer­i­can’s elec­tion to civic role is an English record breaker

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE - By Alan Smith aj­smith@thek­m­ @aj­smithKM

Maid­stone is soon to set a new civic record by be­com­ing the first English bor­ough to elect an Amer­i­can as mayor.

Cllr Dave Naghi, who has been a bor­ough coun­cil­lor for the past 16 years, is of Romanian and English her­itage, but was born in the States.

His mother Ena Smith was brought up in Queen’s Av­enue, Maid­stone, and at­tended West Bor­ough School.

His fa­ther was Alex Naghi, who fled Ro­ma­nia at the start of the Sec­ond World War. He lived in Scot­land un­til the war ended. Un­able to re­turn home be­cause his na­tive coun­try had ended up in the Com­mu­nist bloc, he moved to Tovil.

Cllr Naghi’s par­ents mar­ried and ini­tially lived in Box­ley Road.

But in Fe­bru­ary 1954, they em­i­grated to Amer­ica, set­tling in Tren­ton, New Jersey, where Cllr Naghi and his younger brother Robert were both born as Amer­i­can cit­i­zens.

Af­ter seven years, Mrs Naghi grew home­sick and in 1961 the fam­ily moved back to Maid­stone and a house in Queen’s Road.

Cllr Naghi is due to be made mayor at the start of the next civic year in May, and hopes his may­oralty will help strengthen ties be­tween the two coun­tries.

There have been times when be­ing a Jersey Boy has been a dis­ad­van­tage. He said: “When I went on a school foot­ball trip to Bel­gium, I couldn’t go on the group pass­port be­cause I was an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen.

“On the way back, at Dover, I couldn’t go through the same pass­port con­trols, and by the time I did get through, the other boys had all got on the train and gone, leav­ing me be­hind.”

A year later, Cllr Naghi be­came a nat­u­ralised Bri­tish cit­i­zen.

“It’s strange dual ex­is­tence,” he said. “When­ever I travel to Amer­ica to visit my brother who lives there, they al­ways con­sider I’m Bri­tish be­cause of my ac­cent.

“But here, I find when­ever I’m in the pub and the Amer­i­cans start bomb­ing some­where, I get it in the neck for be­ing Amer­i­can.”


Dave Naghi will be the town’s first Am er­i­can Mayor

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