He came to America from halfway around the world, from a little village in India where he worked on his education and his family’s farm. Paul 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 mayor.
His reasons for coming to America are typical; his life and experiences are not.
“It meant a lot to me. I came here to live the American Dream,” Sandhu said. “I strongly believe, if you work hard and have faith, the possibilities are endless. Growing up in poverty, there were not many opportunities for us in Punjab. My father really pushed for me to leave and go to the United States. Once I got here, I was determined to work hard and be successful.”
The 24-year-old Sandhu was thrilled to arrive in the United States, but life was definitely a challenge for him. His mother passed away shortly before he moved to the states. Even though he had a Bachelor of Science, he struggled at first on multiple fronts. His first job in his new country was picking peaches. He first lived in the Bay Area after immigrating.
“It was tough and a hard adjustment,” recalled Sandhu. “Everything was different and not what I was accustomed to – the food, the culture, the language. It was also hard being away from my family in Punjab in the beginning, but I kept a positive mindset and was dedicated to working hard. Immigrating to this great country definitely changed my life for the better.”
In 1986, Sandhu became a citizen of the United States. His life took off with a better job working for the United States Postal Service where he retired after 25 years of service. He and his wife Amy chose to live in Galt 26 years ago.
He met his wife Amy in India through mutual friends and married in 1981 in Yuba City.
“My wife Amy was working in North Sacramento and my job had gotten transferred to Stockton, so we wanted to find a place in the middle,” Sandhu said. “We had never heard of Galt before. It was a much smaller town than San Jose, but it reminded me of my small village back in Punjab. Like many of us that live here, I fell in love with Galt for its small town charm. I love the people and community we have here, as well as all the locally owned businesses. I am sure to see a familiar face or two whenever I go to eat or shop in town.”
The Sandhus appreciate the Galt schools where their children attended and graduated. Their son Aman has been married for 14 years to wife Ragwant and they have three children: Jazleen, Navleen and Armann. Their daughter Predeep married earlier this year to her husband Makham Virk.
“I am happy that I was able to provide my kids with opportunities I didn’t have when I was growing up,” Sandhu said. “When I go back to my village in Punjab every few years, everyone comes and visits and tells me about how proud they are of me. It is really a good feeling.”
Sandhu and his wife own the Best Western on Lincoln Way and Pringle Avenue. They recently completed a large addition to the hotel. Both have worked tirelessly for the city through committees and commissions.
“I chose to serve the citizens of Galt because I strongly believe I have the background, knowledge and experience to help move the city in a positive direction,” Sandhu said. “I was a planning commissioner for six years prior to running for city council. I have management understanding from my previous employment at USPS. I am a local business owner and, most importantly, a long time resident. I want to be a voice for my fellow members of the community. Everyone is affected by the decisions made, and we must consider everyone’s opinions and thoughts.”
The new mayor said, even after many years of living in Galt and America, it’s the little things he appreciates most.
“The simple things – clean air, clean and quiet roads,” Sandhu said. “Everyone honks nonstop in India. I also value enforcement of laws and regulations, and the education system.”
Sandhu’s new appointment as mayor will give him a big opportunity to use his knowledge and experience.
“I never imagined, when I came to the United States 37 years ago, I would one day become the mayor of this Great American Little Town,” Sandhu said. “I am humbled and grateful for this opportunity, and looking forward to it. When I ran for City Council last year, I advocated for transparency. I hope to continue minimizing the disconnect between city government and the citizens of Galt, and being the voice of the people. I want to continue putting public safety first and supporting our local law enforcement. I hope to keep Galt a business friendly town.”