Thirty years, a wife, and three kids ago, Raj Sandhu moved to Bradford with his brothers and parents.
“When we moved here, this reminded me of the town I grew up in India, Punjab. It’s a small town. No one locked the doors,” he recalled.
“When we moved to Bradford…the people kind of knew each other and took time to say hello…that’s why we decided to stay here.”
Sandhu married his longtime family friend, Rana, in 1991. Together, they have three children, a 26-year-old son Taran, who is a police officer in London, Ontario, and two daughters, Kiran, 24, a Shulich School of Business graduate, and Simran, 13.
From a young age, Sandhu had a passion for politics, following his grandfather to town meetings and gatherings back in his hometown of India.
“I can’t run. I can’t play hockey. I can’t play baseball. I can do this (politics),” he laughed.
In 2006, he decided to run for council in Ward 1. He lost the election by only 100 votes to Peter Dykie, but re-ran in 2010 and won.
His main reason for running for council? To be heard and to give the residents a voice. He said he wanted to create a community filled with culture, events and activities.
He prides himself on always responding to residents and their concerns.
“My biggest thing is I get back to people. I’m up front with them; you might not like the answer, but you will get an answer,” he said.
On a typical day, he wakes up around 4:30 a.m., heads to his job at Magna in Newmarket, gets home by 4:30 p.m. to shower and eat, and then heads out for town meetings, sometimes running as late as 10:30 p.m. But he says he enjoys his busy lifestyle and wouldn’t change a thing.
“It kind of gives me a high,” he said.
He admits he doesn’t get much spare time, but when he does, he spends it with his family, or reading newspapers and books, in particular, autobiographies.
Since 2006, he has noticed a lot of differences in the town’s issues.
He says Bradford’s main concerns during his second election focused more on taxes and the downtown core revitalization, whereas this term, council is focusing on traffic congestion and safety concerns.
“We are pushing for 400-404 link, we opened up Marshview (road). We are widening side roads. We are also actively looking for another way in and out if the link doesn’t happen,” he explained about council’s work on alleviating traffic flow.
With Bradford’s rapid growth, he noted there is a need for more jobs. He is proud of his work in helping secure the development of the land off the 400 and Highway 88.
He says there are plans to have a hotel and other businesses built, which in turn will provide more jobs for the people of Bradford.
“My desire is to see that area the way we’ve seen in Vaughan…where you have these jobs and people don’t have to sit on the highway for an hour and a half,” he said.
In addition to the various boards and committees he is on with council, he is the founding member of the Bradford Diversity Action Group, a volunteer-based group that observes and celebrates religious and cultural holidays and events like Canada Day, Eid, and Aboriginal Day.
To Sandhu, Bradford is the ideal place to live; he plans to stay for a long time to come.
“I am going to go in a casket from this town,” he joked.
In regards to his career with council, he says he has a lot to offer for the rest of the term, which ends in 2022.
“As a team, I’m proud of all the work we’re doing,” he said.