Posted by on August 28, 2013 in Blog
By Matt Haugen
Summer 2013 Intern
Michigan’s August primary elections illustrated the increasing prevalence of Arab Americans on the political stage. While our community has long been represented at all levels government, growing numbers are seeking local and statewide seats — and getting on the November ballot. In Hamtramck, Abdul Algazali received the most votes for mayor, beating the incumbent Mayor Karen Majewski by a sizeable margin, and city council candidate Rashad Almasmari garnered enough votes to proceed to the November general. In Dearborn, Khalil Dakhlallah advanced to the general for city clerk. Mike Sareini, Susan Dabaja, Robert Alex Abraham, and Tarek Baydoun will also be on the ballot as City Council candidates.
Arab Americans also are making strides outside Michigan. Paterson, New Jersey, which boasts one of the most political adept and involved Arab American communities in the country, just elected Andre Sayegh as president of the City Council. A few miles east, in Harlem, New York, lifelong New Yorker, local community leader, and business owner Zead Ramadan is running for City Council. If elected, he would be the first Arab American to serve on the City Council– a position with quite a bit of influence, power, and responsibility.
A common denominator in these states: AAI’s Yalla Vote program. Launched in 1998, AAI’s non-partisan Yalla Vote program has registered and mobilized tens of thousands of Arab American voters across the nation. During the August recess, we were on the ground in New York, Michigan, and New Jersey, where elections will be held in 2013. And we’re already working to build the Arab American political machine ahead of the 2014 elections. Just over a year from now, Americans will vote in 33 Senate races, 435 House races, 39 gubernatorial races, and a host of state and local elections. And around the nation, Arab Americans will turn to Yalla Vote to get information on everything from when to register and where to vote, to who’s on the ballot and what they’re saying about our issues.
We’re counting on you to make 2014 the Year of the Arab American Vote. If you know of Arab Americans on the ballot in your city or state, please let us know. If you’re able to take a more active role — registering voters or hosting platform parties, click here. And, most importantly, share this information with your friends and family. Help us get the word out to get the vote out!