Yuba City Mayor-Elect Makes History

kash-gillYuba city, California: Jagtar Gill’s eyes shone Tuesday as he spoke about the pride he has for his son. A college graduate, a banker and now mayor of Yuba City, Kash Gill is the first and only one in his family to be in politics. The success of his motto — “dare to dream” — is a sign anyone can accomplish anything they put their mind to, his father said.

“I never dreamed like that when I came to the United States,” Jagtar Gill said. “I am so happy.”

Kash Gill was sworn in Tuesday night as the first Punjabi-American mayor of Yuba City. A veritable who’s who of the Yuba-Sutter and East Indian communities gathered to be part of the landmark event.

“If it wasn’t for the voters, I would not be here,” Kash Gill said. “We have made history tonight, and everyone is part of that history.”

Outgoing Mayor Leslie McBride, who will spend the last year of her term as a council member, thanked Yuba City staff, the city manager, all department heads and her family for their support during the past 12 months.

“It ends a year of hard work and excitement, some trepidation at times but so much an honor for me,” McBride said.

The City Council follows a regular rotation for mayor, with the top two vote recipients in each election serving one year in the position.

Councilman John Miller made the motion to nominate his “good friend and fellow council member” Kash Gill, who spent the past year as vice mayor. Councilman Tej Maan seconded the motion.

Gill exchanged hugs and handshakes with his council members as the audience gave him a standing ovation amid a flurry of flashbulbs. He then took the center seat for his first action as mayor, leading the council in the nomination of Councilman John Dukes as vice mayor.

The economic challenges, critical need for levee upgrades and absence of youth activities that loom over the city’s head are among Gill’s list of goals to address in the next year.

“We cannot continue to balance the budget on concessions and reserve funds alone,” Gill said. “Tough decisions will have to be made.”

Public safety, continued economic development and a push for funding to widen the Fifth Street bridge also will be top priorities, Gill said.

“Yes, we have a lot of work ahead of us, starting tomorrow,” he said.

But first came celebration.

Friends, family members, colleagues and many public officials gathered at the Veterans Memorial Community Center to dine on samosas and chana masala as dancers jumped and swirled to East Indian music, bangles jangling and colorful attire flashing.

Family members, former mayors and other area leaders shared accolades and advice from a video displayed on a big screen. Passing the gavel into such capable hands was a wonderful feeling, McBride said.

The future holds a lot of options for Gill, whom she has known since their childhood days as Hornets and Honkers in the local elementary and high schools, she added.

“Given his goal-getting ways, I can’t imagine he is going to stop here,” she said. From Gill’s early childhood, it was clear he had greatness in his future, said his uncle Didar Bains.

“From the beginning, he works really heard and he wants to be something,” Bains said. “With God-given opportunities and your support, here he is.”

Ravi Maan, Gill’s brother-in-law, came from Vancouver to share in the celebration. “Even in Canada we don’t have a Punjabi mayor,” he said. The recognition of an East Indian in Yuba City speaks to the American dream, Maan said. Everyone deserves to be rewarded not for the color of his or her skin, but for their capability, knowledge and integrity.

“Merit is the first,” he said. “Everything else is second.”

Source: Ashley Gebb, Appeal Democrat

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