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In this Seattle suburb, Sikh Americans make historic gains amid tough challenges

Satwinder Kaur made it official in March....

Satwinder Kaur made it official in March. That’s when the 31-year-old single mom announced her candidacy for City Council in Kent, Washington.

Eight months later, Kaur’s victory made her the city’s first elected council member who is Sikh, she said.

“They’re really, really proud that one of their own is representing at City Hall,” Kaur told NBC News.

Just outside Seattle, Kent is home to many of the Sikh faith, a religion founded in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent during the late 15th century.

Kaur’s election is a big deal for this city of roughly 127,000that found itself in the media spotlight back in early March, when a turbaned Sikh man working on his car was shot and injuredby a masked gunman who told him to get out of the country, police have said. 

“That created such anxiety in the community,” Jasmit Singh, one of the founders of the Khalsa Gurmat Center, a community group based in nearby Renton, told NBC News.

“All the elderly who used to take walks would no longer go out, they would not sit in the public parks,” he said. “There was a sense that somebody was on the prowl that would shoot them.”