Thank You

I want to sincerely thank all who contributed to my run for Richmond City Council. 

The last two years sitting on the council have been extremely rewarding for me and I am thankful for the opportunity to directly affect the lives of Richmond’s citizens.  My goal in this race was to be able to continue this service to my community. 

It was also about representing the Sikh community to the larger whole of Richmond as a voice for the diversity of the city.

While I did not secure a seat on the city council in a hotly contested race where ten candidates, four of them incumbents, fought for three council seats, I am proud of our campaign.  It built a great deal of name recognition for me in the city and increased awareness of Richmond’s Sikh community. 

None of this would have been possible without the help of donors and volunteers.  It took many resources to get out my message of fighting crime in Richmond through mailers, websites, signs, stickers and e-mails.  It took dedicated volunteers to walk the neighborhoods, make phone calls, stand on the corner with signs and provide a presence at the polls. 

I am incredibly thankful for all of this assistance and humbled by the outpouring of support.



Harpreet S. Sandhu


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State Attorney General Jerry Brown Endorses Harpreet Sandhu!

Yesterday California State Attorney General, former Governor and Oakland Mayor, Jerry Brown, endorsed Richmond City Councilman Harpreet Sandhu in his race to be elected to the Richmond City Council.

Attorney General Brown, cited Richmond City Councilman Sandhu’s work on behalf of the Democratic Party and his stances on the environment and crime as the reasons for his support.

Councilman Sandhu, said this just might be his biggest endorsement yet and adds immensely to the already impressive list of endorsements.

We have 7 days left to election day. Please forward this on to people in your address book. There is no greater endorsement of a candidate than your personal recommendation.

The Many Friends of Harpreet Sandhu are grateful for Jerry Brown’s endorsement.

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Election Day! Vote for Harpreet!

It’s November 4th!  Time to exercise your rights and vote!

Harpreet and his team of volunteers will be roaming throughout Richmond today to encourage everyone to get out the vote.

Don’t forget to vote for Harpreet for Richmond City Council, he’s third on the ballot across from Obama.

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Why Am I Running for the Richmond City Council?

During these past weeks I have been asked by many friends and residents of West County, “Why was I running to be returned to the Richmond City Council, especially given the fact that the meetings are so contentious, quite long and you take so much heat from what appears to be a few  disgruntled people who have nothing else to do but come down and harass the council members?”

I have thought about this question long and hard.  Had I not been appointed, I probably would have never taken the chance of running for office.  It’s not because I didn’t want to serve, quite  the contrary.  I have been involved in West Contra Costa County since I first moved here in 1979.  I have been involved in our schools, the Democrat Party, State and local commissions and as a secretary, treasurer and president of our Sikh Temple in Richmond and San Pablo.

No, I probably would never have run because of what I look like, especially what that can mean to some people after  9/11.  A person wearing a turban, even when a Sikh from India, is not looked upon with great favor.

In fact, most Californians don’t realize how far back in California history we go. Sikhs began coming to California in the 1890’s. They came as farmers, artisans, mechanics and just plain laborers. My own family came to live in Berkeley in 1968 and we have been here ever since. We are proud to be Americans.

However, now that I have a better chance of being returned to the City Council, I feel compelled to run because of the challenge of getting Richmond back to where it was before the terrible financial crisis of 2004 when the city ran up a $35 million dollar deficit. Most of our citizens don’t realize the enormity of the problem that the deficit caused then and still causes today.

In 2004 the city had to lay off almost 300 employees, many of them serving in the police and fire departments.

  • Programs were cut.
  • Services were reduced and in some cases shut down.
  • Our roads went unattended
  • Crime shot up.
  • And many other things went without attention.

I wasn’t on the council when the crisis took place.  But I am able to be a part of the recovery that has been taking place. It hasn’t been easy. During the years after the financial crisis there have been several tax measures presented to the voters of Richmond.  Only one of them has passed.

What does this mean?

It means that in tough economic times the Council and city staff have to be as creative as possible in finding new revenue streams to help pay the bills and restore as many of those city services as possible.

The Council and city staff have pursued attracting new business, reducing crime — crime has been reduced by 25% over the past year — and restoring many of those services that were cut.

I am bothered by the tension between some of the members on the council, especially the ones that feel compelled to vilify other members who might vote differently than they do.  I have watched and been on many boards and commissions.  I don’t believe I have ever seen one of the members on any of those boards berate their colleagues just because they think differently.

I believe I bring some civility to this process even though Councilman Butt wrote that I and two other minority members of the council should “go back to where you belong.”

I believe I can work to solve problems and get the work of the city done by working collegially with the other members of the council and all citizens of Richmond.

Yes, there is a lot left to do to get Richmond back on track.  Yes, it is going to take a lot of work and involve every sector that comprises the city:  our community… business… industry … labor … our neighboring cities and other governmental jurisdiction.  But most importantly, we need a city council that will listen to all of these interests.  We need a city council that will realize that the answer to our problems does not lie with a single interest but in our collective wisdom. We need a city council that will realize that the answer to our problems is in our coming together.

That’s why I’m running.

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More Voices for Harpreet

New videos have been posted on YouTube in support of Harpreet Sandhu for Richmond City Council.  Just visit to see endorsements from Dr. John Tysell, Carol and David MacDiarmid and John Ziesenhenne.

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Harpreet’s Campaign Featured on Sikh Swim

Harpreet Sandhu’s campaign for Richmond City Council was featured October 16th on national Sikh interest blog Sikh Swim.

Harpreet has served in the leadership of the Sikh Center of the San Francisco Bay Area for many years, acting at different times as President, Secretary, and Treasurer.

He wants to continue serving Richmond as a City Council member, bringing all of the city’s diverse communities together to make Richmond a safer, more prosperous place to live.

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Lesa McIntosh Talks About Harpreet on YouTube

Lesa McIntosh, a Richmond resident and member of the board of the EBMUD talks on Saturday, October 11th, on why she is supporting Harpreet for the Richmond City Council.

Just follow the link:

Also check out videos from former California State Assemblyman Bob Campbell, former Richmond City Councilman Jim McMillan, elementary school Principal Marco Gonzales, Fred Jackson, and Coach Creer and Michele Jones Jackson!

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Daniel Weintraub: Chevron pays city to bear burden of oil thirst

 Posted on Wed, Aug. 13, 2008 in the Modesto Bee

RICHMOND – From the corner of Standard Avenue and Main Street at the big Chevron oil refinery in this gritty city by the bay, the pipes seem to stretch forever in every direction. Carrying crude oil, gasoline and everything in between, they snake for miles through the refinery – 8,000 miles, almost three trips across the United States. That’s how massive this place is.

Every third car driving on Northern California roads is powered by gas from Chevron’s plant. Almost every quart of motor oil sold on the West Coast has ingredients from here.

The scale of the refinery is a testament to our oil-driven society.

And a controversy over a planned modernization of the facility reflects our love-hate relationship with the stuff.

Even before prices at the pump rose above $4 per gallon, it was becoming fashionable to sneer at oil, the oil industry and everything connected to it. But few of those doing the sneering travel exclusively by bike or on foot. And until we’re all doing that, or we figure out some other way to power our cars, we are going to need gasoline.

And if we need gas, we are going to need oil and oil refineries.

Chevron’s refinery has been here on the shores of San Pablo Bay for more than 100 years. A century ago it was making kerosene for lamps, and the invention of the electric light bulb almost killed it. Then came the car, and the internal combustion engine. The refinery has not been short of customers since.

The refinery’s current infrastructure does not quite date to the days when the first Rockefellers would come out from the East to inspect their holding, which was then part of Standard Oil. But it is pretty creaky. Some of it was built in the 1930s and 1940s. Much of it goes back to the 1960s and 1970s. It is inefficient and prone to problems. It needs updating.

Typically, a major company’s plan to invest $1 billion or so to modernize its facility would be good news. But not when it’s an oil company.

Chevron’s proposal has attracted widespread opposition. Some people simply don’t like oil and didn’t want the company to do anything to prolong the life of the refinery. Others were worried that the upgrade would increase the capacity of the plant or allow it to refine a heavier grade of crude, producing more pollution.

Although the official capacity will remain the same, the refinery probably will produce at least a bit more gasoline once it’s been updated, because it will have less downtime and more productive hours. And more of the gasoline it produces will be suitable for the California market because the upgraded equipment will better accommodate the state’s special standard for formulating gas.

The new equipment will also allow the refinery to burn the dirtier crude that is becoming an industry standard as supplies of the purest oil begin to dwindle. That’s of special concern to the neighbors because refining dirtier crude means more contaminants must be removed, and that increases the chances of pollution, particularly sulfur, will be released to the atmosphere.

But the company says it still will not be able to refine the truly “heavy” crude that opponents fear would be an environmental disaster. And the new power plants, furnaces and a hydrogen plant the company will build are supposed to be cleaner than the ones they replace.

“We are replacing older units with newer units and in every case there is a new technology that improves production efficiency and energy efficiency,” said Bob Chamberlin, an environmental specialist at the site.

Much of the pollution that comes from the refinery is run-of-the-mill stuff emitted by the power plants and furnaces used to produce electricity to run the machinery and to heat the oil to a temperature that refines it into gasoline. The refining process itself takes place in a closed system, at least when everything is going according to plan. The only emissions from that loop are what are known as “fugitives” – from leaky valves and pipe connections, or from flares used periodically to relieve pressure inside the equipment. Hydrocarbons also escape from storage tanks and during the loading of ships on refinery’s dock.

After four years of review, the City Council voted narrowly last month to grant the company the permits it needed to proceed. But not before extracting a price.

In a side deal, Chevron agreed to pay the city $61 million over 10 years. Some of the money will go for environmental programs and to produce alternative energy. Some of it will go for law enforcement, health and social programs that have nothing to do with oil but will make at least some residents of the town feel better about the company.

No one wants to live near an oil refinery, no matter how modern and efficient it might be, and few of us will begrudge the city for extracting tribute from Chevron for the privilege of running a cleaner operation.

That’s the company’s price of doing business in an urban area. And indirectly, it’s the price we all will pay for continuing to enjoy our mobile, oil-fueled lifestyles.

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An Open Letter to Richmond Voters

Some people are not sure if someone who wears a turban could get elected to office in Richmond.

I’m a Sikh – and the turban is a sacred part of my faith.

But having lived and raised a family in Richmond for over a quarter century, I know my turban isn’t the issue.  The issue is what I will do to make our community safer a place where we can live and raise a family without fear.

We have to solve Richmond’s crime problem. 

I’ve been on the Richmond City Council for nearly two years.  In that time, cracking down on crime has been my focus.  It’s my focus that has earned me the support of the Richmond Police Officers Association.  Until we get control back of Richmond’s streets and make our neighborhoods safe, our schools will suffer and our local economy will suffer.

So, whether you wear a turban, dreadlocks, a hard hat, a fireman’s helmet or a yarmulke, if you want a Councilman whose top priority is safe streets and neighborhoods in Richmond, we have a lot in common.


Harpreet Sandhu

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