Pargat Sandhu has come a very long way in almost every way imaginable, not only was he the first Sikh to sit on and chair the Galt Planning Commission, he is the first Sikh councilman and now the mayor of Galt in California, USA.
Born in a small village of Basesharpur, in Jalandhar Punjab, India, Pargat Sandhu moved to the U.S. decades back. Unlike any other man, moving to a new country was overwhelming. Reminiscing the challenges he had faced back then, Sandhu said, “It was definitely a very big challenge coming from a different country. I came here to live the American Dream. I came here with nothing and had to start from scratch. Finding a job and a place to live were some of the biggest challenges”. But he didn’t give up. He landed a job with USPS, and later took an early retirement opportunity after 25 years of service from his management position.
After retiring from the USPS, he found more time to be involved in his community and in public service. That is when he started being more interested in politics. With a positive thought process, he feels “If we are involved, that is only way we can bring about change in our community.”
And soon, things took a different turn for him. He began his journey.
Having lived in the City of Galt for the past 25 years, he was involved in many organizations in the community. As per Sandhu, he became more involved when Planning Commission for the city in 2012. He served six years on the Planning Commission, as both Chair and Vice Chair. Then in 2018, he decided to run in the election for City Council. After winning the election and serving his first year as a council member, by unanimous vote, he was appointed as the mayor in December 2019.
When asked if he was always interested in politics, Sandhu said, “No, after retiring from the United State Postal Service, I found more time to be involved in my community and in public service. That is when I started being more interested in politics. If we are involved, that is only way we can bring about change in our community.”
Sandhu feels that a change is always needed in every domain of life in this ever evolving world. He feels that to bring about any change in a society, there is a need for transparency.
“I believe everyone should be well-informed and have a good understanding on issues, so they have a better idea of where they stand on these issues. Any changes affect all of us on some level, so it is important to be involved and voice our concerns.”
On the official website of the Galt city, there is a statement by Pargat that states, “I look forward to working with the citizens of Galt and the city and improving our quality of life and moving forward in a positive direction”. We wondered how he plans to do that. With a much sorted approach and futuristic vision, Sandhu said, “My job is to represent the people of City of Galt. I must always listen to their concerns and comments before making any decisions, because these decisions usually have a direct effect on the citizens. I am the voice of the people. I work closely with our law enforcement to ensure that they are always supported and that we always put public safety first in our city. I would like to see our city have smart growth so that it has positive effect on the community and citizens.”
Even after spending decades in the United States, Pargat who is amongst the very lucky individuals who are privileged enough to have a life that can inspire others contributes to the development of his home town in India. “I contribute to both the village I grew up in – Basesharpur, and the surrounding cities. I try to go back once a year and help where I can. I contribute to the local schools in my village, and also to the institution where I graduated from – Lyallpur Khalsa College in Jalandhar. I also help contribute to the local sports and cultural programs.”
For the next 5 years, Sandhu has some plans in his mind, “I will have just completed my election term as City Council. I plan to continue staying involved in politics, spending time with family, and my businesses.”
Some of the biggest changes he wants to see in the whole world are improvements and better access in the education and health systems. “I would also like to see world peace.”
With such a demanding job he tries and manages to devote time to his family. “Yes, I always make sure to spend quality time with my family. Family is very important and a great support system. My idea of a perfect vacation is going back to my homeland in India. In my free time, I like to spend time with my family, especially my grandchildren,” he said.
With our planet facing such harsh conditions (Wildfires in Australia, in Amazon in past, and California as well facing fires and floods in 2019), Sandhu feels that the planet could be saved in various ways but primarily we need to all educate ourselves on ways to help save the planetwhether its recycling and reducing waste or reducing emissions into our air quality.
Sandhu is a strong believer in ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’ and in order to be successful, we must put in the hard work and sometimes have to do sacrifices. “Remember, in the end, it will all be worth it. Always remain humble, and always thank God.”