Gurinder Singh Khalsa, a longtime Sikh-American resident of Fishers, Indiana, officially announced plans February 6 to run for the City Council as a Republican candidate, seeking to bring a minority voice to the table and give back to the community.
The 46-year-old turbaned Sikh, who received the prestigious 2019 Champions of Diversity-Rosa Parks Trailblazer award from the Indianapolis Recorder newspaper Jan. 18, recognizing individuals advocating for diversity and advancing equity and inclusion, is a small-business owner and active in the community.
Khalsa is also the founder and chairman of SikhsPAC, a nonpartisan political action committee founded in 2016 to support “Sikh and Sikh-minded” candidates for local, state and national office.
The primary is scheduled to be held on May 7.
Khalsa says his decision to run for office was prompted by his interest in public policy and his desire to give back to his community. A college graduate in economics from Punjab University in India, Khalsa holds a certification in marketing and business finance from the University of California in Berkeley. He has worked with public service leaders and organizations across the state and the nation.
“My candidacy will hopefully inspire and encourage ethnic communities to engage and participate by serving in the public offices” Khalsa told India Abroad.
Khalsa desires to invest in the community that has provided him with the same opportunities which have contributed to his success as a community leader. “I desire to invest my time in Fishers – working towards collaborating with others as we address the fast-paced growth of our community and inspiring others to get involved with the community as well,” he said in a statement.
When Khalsa was given the Rosa Parks Award last month by state representative of Indiana Robin Shackleford and Robert Shegog, vice president at the Indianapolis Recorder, the guests at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Indianapolis were remined how in 2007, Khalsa was forcibly removed by TSA officials from a flight at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport in New York after he refused to remove his turban. The efforts of Khalsa and others ultimately led to the government’s changing the TSA’s turban policy.
The Recorder noted that like Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat and set in motion one of the largest social movements in history, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Singh was refused access to board an airplane in 2007 because of his turban.
In response to questions last week why he chose to run for the 9-member council, Khalsa said he has met “many trailblazers” who have made a difference in the lives of others through their work in public service and through their work in public service.
Khalsa and his wife Gagan have two children, Vishu and Ajay, both raised in Fishers.
“My values center on the growth of our community and the voice of our community,” Khalsa said in a statement. “I value Fishers and look forward to the opportunity to put Fishers first.”
On his campaign website Khalsa writes he will focus on economic development and would like to see more done for those parts of Fishers outside of the Downtown area. He believes new economic developments should provide the opportunity for recent high school graduates to be able to continue to live and work in Fishers.
He believes it needs to be sustainable with additional development focusing on higher paying jobs, like distribution centers, software companies and other tech startups, and corporate headquarters.
Khalsa noted that historically municipal elections are the lowest-turnout elections in Indiana, a republican stronghold, and Khalsa wants to encourage all Fishers residents to participate in local government, the level of government that impacts the average person most.
Khalsa says he hopes by running for the seat he will provide a choice and encouragement for other residents to seek office, participate in meetings, and provide feedback to local public officials.
According to Data USA., quoting the latest census figures, Hamilton County, which includes Fishers, is home to a 316,373 people. The most common foreign languages in the County, are Spanish, followed by Chinese and Other Asian languages but compared to other places, Hamilton County has a relative high number of Urdu speakers (1,164 speakers).