Posted by on June 01, 2015 in Blog
Philippe Nassif, a Houston native with Arab and Mexican heritage, is seeking a spot on the Houston city council. Nassif grew up speaking both Spanish and Arabic and was always reminded of his Arab roots by his Lebanese grandmother. Nassif’s father came to the United States in the 1980’s during the height of the Lebanese Civil War to seek a better life for himself and his family. Today, Nassif hopes to make a positive impact and improve the lives of those in his community.
Nassif began his career in politics with an organization called Americans for Informed Democracy. He helped mobilize local students to take action on global issues such as climate change and poverty. In 2008 he transitioned to help Barack Obama with his presidential campaign. On the campaign, Nassif saw a growing disconnect between city hall and the underrepresented neighborhoods of Houston. This disengagement from the community really struck a cord with Nassif who wants to better the lives of Houston residents and make the city more receptive to their needs.
Vital changes are needed throughout the city to catch up with Houston’s rapidly changing landscape. He said that over the last two decades Houston’s ethnic makeup has changed drastically and that “60% of the city’s populations are now minorities” and that people are shifting toward a more urbanized environment. This has prompted the need for Houston’s infrastructure to catch up and adapt. He hopes to be able to add more bike lanes to the city and increase the amount of public transportation throughout the city.
Another one of Nassif’s main goals is to revitalize and encourage political participation throughout the city. “Voter turnout in Houston has been the lowest in the state of Texas over the last few years and I want get the Arab American community in Houston more mobilized and more involved in the politics”. One of the main reasons Nassif feels that voter turnout is so low is because of the current makeup of the City Council and how they have not sufficiently engaged with the different communities in Houston. Nassif is very proud of the diversity in the city and wants Houston’s elected officials to make a greater effort to reach out to all the neighborhoods of Houston.
While Nassif has support throughout the city’s diverse communities he notes that they do not support him just because he has Arab and Mexican roots. “The people of Houston do not support someone just based on their ethnicity. They want someone who is a problem solver and who will represent and listen to them.”
As an Arab American, Nassif feels that it is his duty to give back to his community and he is reminded of his grandmother’s words to him when he was first thinking about running for city council. She told him that “Running for office was not an option for her and that they came to America to live the American dream and that running for office is his way of being able to give back”. This Fall, Nassif will have chance to continue to give back when he runs for Houston City Council in the November 3 election.