California’s Preet Didbal creates history as the first Sikh woman elected to a City Council in the US

Didbal rose from a farm laborer to a politician in Yuba City.

By The American Bazaar Staff

WASHINGTON, DC: An Indian American woman, Preet Didbal, 46, created history when she was sworn in to the City Council of Yuba City, California: Didbal is the first Sikh woman to do so in the country.

Preet Didbal with her mother and daughter. Courtesy of preetdidbal.com
Preet Didbal with her mother and daughter. (Courtesy of preetdidbal.com)

The Governor of South Carolina, Nikki (Nimrata Randhawa) Haley is also of Sikh origin, but till Didbal was sworn-in Tuesday night, no Sikh woman had made it to the City Council, the first big step into real world politics.

The emotional Didbal was sworn-in by her daughter, and her mother, wearing a traditional Punjabi style salwar kurta, with a veil over her head, stood alongside.

Didbal’s amazing story is one to emulate for any immigrant who comes to the US seeking a better life for their children. She was one of four girls brought up by her parents, poor laborers who toiled on the farms of California. Didbal worked in the fields herself, with her family.

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Didbal told the NBC local affiliate KCRA: “We worked the fields here. We never owned any property. We are the farm laborers who just raised ourselves up.”

Her hard work resulted in her becoming the first in her family to go to college. In addition to serving on the Yuba City Planning Commission for eight years, Didbal, who was born and raised in Yuba City, holds an associate’s degree in nutrition, a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a master’s degree in public administration.

She is currently a correctional health care services manager in the California Department of Corrections.

Didbal recalled in the interview her parents goading her on to carve a different path on life.

“My dad, my parents said (to me), ‘We were raising you like our sons, as if you were our sons,’ because (they had) four daughters,” Didbal said. “‘We give you the strength to go out and do what you want.'”

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She has also proved to be an inspiration for young girls and women, who crowded the swearing-in ceremony, as did a large number of the local Diaspora community.

“From where I was standing, I see all these men and then I see Preet,” said 15-year-old Ravina Sidhu, to KCRA. “And it’s wonderful, because she’s telling you to go for it.”

“I do admire her,” 11-year-old Meneek Sidhu said. “I think she’ll be a great councilwoman and good for our community.”

Didbal’s message to the youth was to “go out there and reach for the stars.”

On her website preetdidbal.com, she has this message up: “For the past 10 years I’ve committed myself as a Planning Commissioner because I wanted to give back. I’ve spent time and effort in hopes of doing the right thing for our community. I am devoted and dedicated to our community and pray that my decisions put our community in a positive light. I will bring with me experience and passion to make a bigger contribution to a place which has given me and my family an opportunity to grow and prosper. It has provided me a safe haven and a place I will always call home.

“My focus has and always will be with our children in mind. It is our obligation to provide for them a foundation to succeed. As City Council, my focus will be just that.”