Sikh Americans shine in California elections; Dr Jasmeet Kaur Bains elected to state legislature

Ritu Jha-

There is palpable excitement among the members of ‘Sikh Delegates of California’ (SDC), a state-wide network of delegates to the California Democratic Party seeking principled representation for the Sikh community at all levels of civic affairs. Not surprising, considering how several Indian American Sikhs are getting elected into political office and creating history of sorts.

The California Legislature will soon welcome Dr Jasmeet Kaur Bains from Bakersfield, its first Sikh and South Asian woman. Dr Bains grew up in the Bakersfield area and serves as Medical Director at Bakersfield Recovery Services.

Amar Shergill, the first South Asian-American to lead the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party told indica, “It’s great to see so many South Asian candidates elected but now it’s up to the community to keep the pressure on and ensure these elected officials actually advocate for our issues. We don’t need another Nikki Haley that forgets where she came from once she has power.”

His thoughts on Dr Bains? “Dr. Bains ran a strong campaign and built a diverse coalition starting with the Sikh community,” Shergill said. “Her swearing-in will be a historic occasion for the Sangat (community).”

In one of her campaign tweets, Dr Bains said (about the photo above), “You will see a lot of campaign yard signs right about now, but I am blessed to say I have the best sign right here, something no money can buy. Made by love by two of my special little supporters in Delano… 8yr old Omar and 9yr old Mayra. I will cherish this forever.”

According to an SDC Bakersfield press note, Manpreet Kaur, too, has a commanding lead for election to City Council in the district that she grew up in. She is on course to become the first Punjabi Sikh woman on the Council. Kaur is a long-time leader in the Jakara Movement with a master’s degree in public policy.

“Nearly 125 years after the first Sikhs set foot on the shores of California, we are proud to see Sikh Americans finally break through such long-standing political barriers at all levels of government,” stated Satinder Singh Malhi, a Northern California delegate. “The California Delegates Network will continue to support those candidates that truly represent our community’s interests and work with them to engage our political leaders.”

Santa Clara has re-elected Raj Singh Chahal to the City Council and Pargat Singh Sandhu was re-elected to the Galt City Council. Both have been serving their communities in civic leadership positions for several terms. Gary Singh has a large lead and will be the first South Asian Mayor in Manteca history after two terms as a Councilmember.

In Fresno, Jakara Movement Executive Director Naindeep Singh, was elected without opposition to the Central Unified School District. In 2022, he received the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award. Naindeep holds advanced graduate degrees from UCLA and Johns Hopkins University.

In Yuba City, three Sikh candidates are on track for election to educational boards. Former Yuba City Mayor Kash Singh Gill is leading for election to the Sutter County Board of Education alongside Harjit Singh, Jakara Movement Director of Personnel. Harjot Kaur has a narrow lead for Sutter County School Board.

At the time of filing this report, Jasjit Singh was just 159 votes behind the incumbent for a position on the Sacramento School Board. He is an attorney and former teacher, also helping lead Jakara Movement as Board Chairperson.

Evidently, last night was also an impressive statement for Jakara Movement, the nation’s largest organization for Sikh youth. “Jakara Movement has established a leadership position across California, often organizing the Sangat on community issues from voter registration, to hate crimes, to truckers’ rights, and we are now seeing the fruits of their efforts in developing the next generation of Sikh leaders,” a community release said.

In addition, Janani Ramachandran was elected to Oakland City Council and Assemblymember Ash Kalra was re-elected. Both have been strong allies to the Sikh Community.

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