“It is truly the manifestation of the American dream”, says Didbal
By Geeta Goindi
December 1, 2017 – Breaking through cultural and gender barriers, Preet Didbal has become the first Indian-American Sikh woman elected as Mayor in US history. She will be sworn in as head of Yuba City in an unprecedented ceremony at the Council Chambers on Tuesday, December 5.
Currently, she serves as Vice Mayor of the city which is located in northern California. It is predominantly a farming community with a large concentration of Sikhs.
Didbal is a trailblazer. She became the first Sikh woman elected to a US city council in 2014, prior to which she served on the Yuba City Planning Commission for eight years and on the Sutter County Planning Commission for two years.
Now she is the first Sikh woman to hold the highest elected office in an American city.
“I’m incredibly humbled by, and grateful for, the responsibility our community has invested in me”, she said in a press statement issued by the Yuba City Council. “This is such an honor and incredibly exciting for me, and even more so for my family. It is truly the manifestation of the American dream”, she said.
Didbal was born and raised in Yuba City after her parents immigrated from India in 1968. As the daughter of farmers, she toiled alongside them in orchards and, defying all odds, became the first in her family to attend college and pursue a master’s degree. She has a BA in physical education/physical therapy from the University of California, and an MPA with a concentration in health administration from the University of San Francisco.
She is a single mom who dotes on her daughter Arianna, and cares for her elderly mother, Gurbaksh Didbal. Serving in local government has been her passion and she has persisted!
“I lost my Dad several years ago, but this was something we had talked about before he passed away”, she divulged. “It was part of his dream for me because he knew I had a passion for our community and a heart for service”.
As Mayor of Yuba City, Didbal said her priorities will continue to be youth, infrastructure and public safety.
“Council member Didbal has been a tremendous asset to our City for more than a decade, helping shape the way we live, work and play for the betterment of our entire community”, Yuba City Manager Steve Kroeger said. “Her professionalism and passion have been paramount, and I look forward to her leadership in serving Yuba City and our surrounding region”.
Didbal affirmed, “Just as my parents wanted a better life for their children in coming to Yuba City, I want a better life for all our citizens, in all capacities, for the greater good of our entire community”.
Last month, Ravi Bhalla became the first Sikh Mayor of Hoboken, a city in New Jersey. He won the election after a hard-fought campaign which was targeted by racist flyers that labeled him a terrorist.
The victories of Didbal and Bhalla are heart-warming news for members of the Sikh community, too often the victims of a hate crime in America. The hope is that political representation will translate into public awareness about Sikhs and Sikhism, the world’s fifth largest religion.