Richmond Sikh, Activist Joins Council

January 18, 2007

Author: John Geluardi

Source: Contra Costa Times

The Richmond City Council selected a Sikh community activist with a record of public service on state, city and school committees to fill its vacant seat.

Human Relations Commissioner Harpreet Sandhu, appointed Tuesday night, will finish out the two years remaining on new Mayor Gayle McLaughlin's council term. He will take a seat behind the dais immediately after he is sworn in Tuesday.

An immigrant from India, Sandhu will be the first Asian to serve on the council. He is one of a handful of Sikhs to hold public office in the United States, and members of Richmond's Sikh community heralded Sandhu as an excellent choice who will work well with other council members.

"Harpreet has served the Sikh community in very important ways," said Jaideep Singh, co-founder and managing director of the Sikh American Legal and Defense Fund based in Washington, D.C. "He has been a liaison between Sikh immigrants and government agencies, and he has been a particularly strong advocate for Sikh taxi drivers who have been the frequent victims of robbery and homicide."

The council appointed Sandhu with the minimum five votes, with McLaughlin and Councilmen Nat Bates and Tom Butt abstaining. The council voted on one other person, longtime activist and perennial council candidate Cortland "Corky" Boozé, who received support from three council members.