Jasmeet Bains is first Indian-American woman California representative

Ritu Jha-

Jasmeet Kaur Bains [above center], a Democrat and daughter of a Sikh immigrant made history, November 8 when she became the first woman of Indian and South Asian origin to be elected to the California Assembly. She won the District 35 seat in a closely contested election.

Democrat Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez had given her a tough fight in the primaries where she got 13,982 votes, but Bains bested her with 13,721 votes. In the rematch during the midterms, But the tables turned last night in the rematch during the midterms,in which Bains earned 10,827 votes (58 percent) votes to Perez’s 7,555.

Bains, 34, is a family physician at Adventist Health in Bakersfield. This is the first time she has run for office. She raised over $500,000 and received huge support from the American Indian and Sikh communities. Punjabi women campaigned for her in large numbers.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Bains is the eldest of three siblings. Manbir Singh, a doctor and a long-time family friend, who also served as a campaign manager for Bains, sounded excited about her victory.

“She is an able leader who focuses all her energies on serving the people,” Singh told indica, admitting, “It was challenging to defeat Perez.” He added that Bains was motivated by the California Medical Association to run for office last year.

“It’s her zeal to fulfill community needs and educate people on drug rehabilitation that made her the perfect candidate,” he said, adding that her fluency in Spanish, Punjabi, and Hindi saw the ranks of her supporters swell.

State Assembly District 35 is currently represented by Republican Jordan Cunningham. It includes the City of Bakersfield, Delano Arroyo Grande, and the Shafter Arvin area.

Bains moved to Delano, California, in 1989 with her family. Her father, a Chrysler car dealership owner, came from Punjab, India in 1979.

Bains’ campaign focused on access to quality healthcare, and helping small businesses rebuild after the COVID-19 pandemic. During her campaign Bains said that she had noticed that a lot of things need to be done to improve medical services, and address problems like drug abuse, increasing crime, water shortages, homelessnes, etc.

She said that even as a child she had watched her father work his way up – from being a mechanic to owning his own successful car dealership, where she continues to work alongside him in a management capacity. On her website, she says that she understood that “we cannot truly be healthy if our economy isn’t strong.”

Bains said that once in the state assembly, she would ensure that students could safely return to the classrooms, invest more resources for students at every level from pre-K through community college and
beyond, and to make career technical education a top priority. She has also pledged to advocate for funding to improve water infrastructure, agriculture, businesses, and homes.

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