Posted by Joan Hanna on July 28, 2017 in Blog

14435124_10154500267706092_8851905011847544429_o.jpgAs Michigan prepares to head to the polls in a little over a week, AAI is excited to highlight Arab American candidates running for office in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights. Local voters will be able to cast ballots for Mayor, the City Council and City Clerk. These local elections are vital because residents have the chance to create personal and professional relationships with their elected officials and discuss issues that most affect them. We’ve provided short biographical profiles on each of the 12 Arab Americans running for office in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights below.

Before heading to the polls on August 8, click here to visit the Michigan Voter Information Center to confirm you’re registered to vote, verify your polling place location and review your sample ballot. If you have any questions about the upcoming primary, you may visit their FAQ section here. The General Election is on November 7.

 

Ali Almuna - candidate for Dearborn Heights City Council

Devoted to bettering his community through his interpersonal and leadership skills, Ali Almuna is running for a seat on the Dearborn Heights City Council. Born and raised in Najaf, Iraq, Almuna immigrated to the U.S. in 1994 and settled in Jacksonville, Florida. In 2000, he moved to Michigan with his wife, an elementary school teacher. After Almuna received an associate’s degree from Wayne County Community College, he became a real estate agent. Almuna acknowledges that there are challenges facing Dearborn Heights and wants to focus on improving public safety, infrastructure like roads, public education and addressing the cost of property taxes.

 

Nada Al-Hanooti - candidate for Dearborn City Council

As a child growing up in Dearborn, Nada Al-Hanooti dreamt of serving and giving back to her community. Now, she seeks to fulfill her dream as she runs for the Dearborn City Council. An Arab American of Palestinian descent, Al-Hanooti attended Dearborn public schools, and considers the city her home. As an advocate for women’s rights, Al-Hanooti hopes for more Arab American and American Muslim women to join the field of public service. In an interview with The Forum and Link, she notes, “Arab and Muslim American women are successful in all avenues of life and many realize it is time to be more involved in politics. The need for the representation of our voices is undeniable.” In addition to increasing representation of Arabs, Muslims, and women in public service, Al-Hanooti hopes to improve the environment, public parks, and traffic safety by reducing pollution, maintaining parks and promoting community activities, and enforcing speed monitors. Al-Hanooti holds a bachelor of arts degree from University of Michigan at Dearborn and a masters of Arts from Eastern Michigan University. Since graduating, she has worked as an educator and community activist and volunteer. Nada Al-Hanooti is grateful for the support and encouragement from the Arab American and Muslim American community.

 

Bill Bazzi - candidate for Dearborn Heights City Council

After serving his country in the U.S. Marine Corps, Bill Bazzi hopes to continue giving back to the nation and his community by serving on the Dearborn Heights City Council. Bazzi, his parents, and four siblings came to the United States from Lebanon in 1976 and settled in Dearborn. Lowriss, Bazzi’s mother, instilled in him the values of hard work and giving back to the community; so less than a decade after arriving in the U.S., Bazzi enlisted in the Marine Corp, where he studied aircraft mechanics and repaired aircrafts. Bazzi headed back to school to receive a Master’s in Aeronautical Engineering. He then joined Boeing, where he worked for 11 years before returning to the Marines. Now, as a retired Marine Corps Sergeant, Bazzi works for Ford as a Product Development Engineer and in his free time, volunteers with the Ford Veterans Network, the City of Redford Veterans Court Dearborn Heights, Toys for Tots, among others. Bazzi has even fundraised $55,000 for the Midnight Golf Youth Program. As a City Councilman, Bazzi hopes to boost economic and community development, increase public safety, improve school and community programs, and promote transparency in government activity. For more information on Bill Bazzi, read our blog here.

 

Fayrouz Bazzi - candidate for Dearborn City Council

As a mother, nurse, and businesswoman rather than a professional politician, Fayrouz Bazzi hopes to be a more representative voice on the Dearborn City Council. While working as a nurse, Bazzi learned about her family’s history of breast cancer and in response, underwent a double mastectomy. After the procedure, she learned she had had stage zero breast cancer, a very early and treatable stage of breast cancer. Now, cancer free, Bazzi is a strong advocate for taking preventable measures to find and fight cancer and other illnesses early on. Fayrouz Bazzi is ready to give back to the community that has helped and supported her for more than 20 years. Bazzi’s campaign platform focuses on beautification projects to make Dearborn a more green and walkable city; economic and educational development to attract investors and entrepreneurs; improvement of public safety to reduce drug abuse, reckless driving, domestic violence, and suicide; and the enhancement of senior living facilities and access to transportation and social activities.

 

Mohamad “Mo” Ali Baydoun - candidate for Dearborn Heights City Council

Small business owner, community volunteer and proud Arab American, Mo Baydoun is running for Dearborn Heights’ City Council at the age of 27. Baydoun holds a bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University and a master’s in public administration from Central Michigan University. In 2016, Baydoun opened Heights Hotdog in Dearborn Heights. In his free time, he volunteers with the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), the Wayne County Sheriff Reserve, and SAFE Substance Abuse. Baydoun tellsArab American News, “I believe that I could provide a fresh perspective, enthusiasm and outside-the-box thinking to our City Council,” and “If elected to City Council, my top priority is improving the quality of life for all Dearborn Heights residents” by strengthening programs for the elderly, promoting policies that encourage small business, restoring parks and other youth services, and building trust in the local government.

 

Susan Dabaja - candidate for Dearborn City Council

For the past four years, Susan Dabaja has served not only as the President of the Dearborn City Council, but also as the only woman on the council, and this past spring, she announced her campaign for reelection as President of the Council. Dabaja, of Dearborn, is an attorney at Farhat & Associates, PLLC; a board member at Dearborn Education Foundation; on the Governor’s Middle Eastern American Affairs Commission; and on AAI’s National Policy Council (NPC). Dabaja earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from University of Michigan at Dearborn and a law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy.

Dabaja is an outspoken advocate for inclusive immigration policies and women’s rights and empowerment. Following one of President Trump’s first executive orders, Dabaja posted on Facebook, “I am angered and saddened by the executive order banning people based on religion… This order strikes at our very core as Americans and what our country is built on…As a nation, we are better than this.” Dabaja is a proud Arab American, American Muslim, wife, and mother of three.

 

Hakim Fakhoury - candidate for Mayor of Dearborn

Known throughout the city as a successful businessman, Hakim Fakhoury hopes to use his experience in the West Dearborn Downtown Development Authority, the Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce, and in the private sector to restructure the tax system, revitalize West Dearborn, and improve the Master Plan for Dearborn. By improving the tax system, Fakhoury says the city can be sure tax dollars go directly towards city services.

Fakhoury is the son of refugees, a husband and father of five. He wants to help restructure the local government to limit terms and balance power. Fakhoury also wants to use the office of Mayor to bring the residents of all ethnic and religious communities together as one, united Dearborn.

 

Rifaat “Mike” Hachem - candidate for Dearborn City Council

Rifaat “Mike” Hachem is an Arab American, born and raised in Dearborn. Hachem was educated in business administration at Henry Ford College and the University of Michigan, and he is currently working towards a master’s degree in business administration. In Dearborn, he is an active member of the Dearborn Chamber of Commerce, Leaders Advancing Helping Communities (LAHC), the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), and the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce (LACC). Hachem believes the city needs young and ambitious individuals to help the city and its economy thrive. As a member of the council, Hachem hopes to increase public safety, support and encourage small businesses, improve city services, and promote fiscal responsibility in the budget. Additionally, Hachem pledges that he will donate 100% of the income made as a city council member to Dearborn non-profits. His first check will go directly to the Dearborn Animal Shelter, an organization which he believes does not receive sufficient support and funding.

 

Nofila Haidar - candidate for Dearborn City Clerk

Nofila Haidar grew up in Dearborn and is a product of Dearborn Public schools. Her platform focuses on providing dependable and accessible services to Dearborn’s residents. As a member of the Dearborn Public Schools Strategic Planning Committee, the Dearborn Goodfellows Board of Directors, and the President of the Dearborn Public Schools PTA Council, Haidar demonstrates her care for and involvement in the community. Haidar holds a bachelor’s in communications and a masters in public administration and is currently working in real estate. She is a wife and mother of two daughters.

 

Ramez “Zack” Haidar - candidate for Dearborn City Council

Ramez “Zack” Haidar has lived in Dearborn for more than thirty years and raised four children with his wife. Haidar is employed as an application engineer, but in his free time, he volunteers in the community as the reserve deputy sheriff and with the Police Reserve Officer Training (PROT). Haidar is focused on uniting the diverse people of Dearborn and working towards the prevention of substance abuse, increasing community policing, improving senior services, reducing pollution, and enhancing transparency in government activity.

 

Houssain Jeff Mallad - candidate for Dearborn Heights City Council

Jeff Mallad grew up in Dearborn and has lived in Dearborn Heights with his wife and four children for nearly 15 years. Mallad and his wife both work in pharmaceuticals and healthcare. As a small business owner, Mallad hopes to bring his leadership, hard work, and integrity to the City Council. Mallad attended Dearborn public schools followed by Central Michigan University and the University of Detroit Mercy, where he received a bachelor’s in administration and organizations and a masters in business administration, respectively.

 

Mike Sareini - candidate for Dearborn City Council

In 2013, the residents of Dearborn elected lifelong resident and Arab American Mike Sareini onto the Dearborn City Council. Now, Sareini is running for reelection onto the Council. Before receiving his law degree at the Thomas Cooley Law School, Sareini focused on his wife and five children and automotive sales. Sareini has been recognized nationally for his success; in 2011, he achieved first place in Ford sales volume in the Detroit Region (MI, IN, and OH) and third nationally. As a councilman, Sareini has promoted transparency in local government decisions as well as the economic and community development of Dearborn.