Northwest Citizen invites candidates or their campaigns to submit an article introducing themselves and their policies to local readers. This interview is written by Kamalla Kaur for Satpal Sidhu, candidate for State Representative, 42nd District.
“I am pleased with the broad-based support for my candidacy from all walks of life in all corners of Whatcom County,” Satpal reports to me. We are drinking tea at The Spice Hut tea bar. “I’m not looking to promote my personal or party ideology; I’m not a career politician. Instead, I want to actually get things done for the sake of our kids and grandkids.“
Satpal Sidhu is a Fulbright scholar, an engineer, and was the Dean of Trade and Business at Bellingham Technical College. Now, he and his wife, Mundir, own this local business, The Spice Hut, close to the entrance of Whatcom Community College.
In the Sikh language, “Satpal” means friend of truth, or someone who is devoted to the truth.
“I love my community and firmly believe that if all citizens contribute their talent and skills to improve their community, we will all have a better place to live.”
Currently, Satpal serves on the PeaceHealth Citizen Advisory Council and Whatcom Community College Foundation. He has also served on the PeaceHealth Ethics Committee, the Lynden School District Levy Committee, the NW Clean Air Agency, Bellingham Police Diversity Committee, the Whatcom Counseling and Psychiatric Clinic, and the Meridian School Foundation.
The Sidhus have lived in Lynden for 27 years, raising three sons who attended Meridian schools; upgrading and updating public education is a top priority for Satpal.
“I know first-hand that the right education can really change the life of a person. I immigrated from India with no money, and my education has been my biggest asset in building my life and raising my family in the United States,” Satpal says. “Education is a great equalizer. Our public schools are the underlying fabric of our unity and equality, where kids, parents and grandparents connect on school grounds and at school events. All our kids have the same opportunities to learn.”
“But political bickering has kept away the continuous investment we needed in our schools for past 25 years,” Satpal continues. “We are behind in modernizing education. A child today lives in a different world. If we just fix what was needed 20 years ago, we continue to fall behind in the competitive global economy. We need to invest in education and early learning, then our schools will do the same great job they did in the past. Kids educated in U.S. public schools put the man on the moon in a decade, created the digital revolution and expanded U.S. economy and our enviable middle class, and many more achievements.”
“Other issues?” I ask.
“Whatcom County is known for pristine views, rural character, clean water and air, and wonderful outdoor opportunities. We must make sure we preserve these things to pass on to the next generation. We must,“ Satpal responds. “This means investing in the research, development, and implementation of clean energy technology and making sure we have clean and healthy watersheds. A clean environment not only helps our landscape, but helps protect human health as well, making sure we aren’t sick and are able to be productive members of society.”
“Which leads to jobs and the economy.”
“The big challenges for our economic prosperity are mobility (transportation and high speed internet), energy (renewable energy and electricity), and water. Because of this, these are also big wealth opportunities, because they are core drivers for our success in the global market,” Satpal says. “I would like to attract clean technology and alternative energy companies to Whatcom County. And I will work to get the stalled transportation budget through the legislature so that we can have the best transportation system for our state. This bipartisan legislation, supported by both businesses and community groups, is a crucial part of growing our state’s economy.”
“Any other plans?”
Satpal nods. “Our mental health crisis is a huge issue not only for our law enforcement bodies but also on our society.”
“Yes, these problems are overwhelming our courts, hospitals and care facilities.”
“Mental health problems can affect any family. Our agencies deal with substance abuse, violent crime, preventable disease and deaths, unemployment and the endless cycles of dependence on local public services and facilities. Unfortunately, it now falls to the state and local governments to take on the growing – and deadly – problems. I believe the state has to do more to address mental health issues.”
“Anything more you wish Northwest Citizens to know about your platform, Satpal?
“Kamalla, I come from a long line of farm families.”
In India, due to the deeply rooted caste system, Satpal Siddhu’s ancestors (and most other Whatcom County Sikh’s ancestors) have been farmers for many, many, many centuries.
“We love this land! Sikhs are avid farmers and now grow almost half of all the berry crop in Whatcom County. It is our second generation, who are more educated with entrepreneurial spirit.”
“So, what do you wish to accomplish for Whatcom County farmers, Satpal?”
“I would like to promote value-added processing dairy and berry products to expand the export opportunities for local farmers. Farmers needs security of water availability for the future, which is another major task which needs resolution in near future.”