Posted by Shadi Matar on October 05, 2016 in Blog

Rashad.jpgInterview with Rashad Al-Dabbagh, Founder and Executive Director of the Arab American Civil Council (AACC) and the force behind Happy Arab News.

Q: What was your first interaction with #YallaVote?

My first interaction was probably in 2008 or 2007. There was an event that Dr. Zogby did with ACCESS California where I heard him speak. They focused on voting and engagement with the community.

Q: When was the first time you voted?

The first time I voted was in 2004 after I became a citizen of the United States!

Q: What does voting mean to you?

Voting is how we choose our future and the people who lead our cities, states, and counties. It's the least we can do in a democracy to make an impact on our future.

Q: Why is the 2016 Election so important to you?

Every election is the most important election you will go through because you will decide your leaders.  But for this one, regardless of the presidential elections and how people are turned off by it, what is important to me is all the down ballot races. From the US Senate to the school board. As a resident of Anaheim, California this is the first year we are electing our council members by district. Having the largest Arab American concentration in California we have a chance to have an impact on these races.

Q: What are you most looking forward to ahead of November 8th?

It's a very important election this year and we are choosing the next US senator for California and this doesn’t happen often because the incumbent usually wins. Getting the Arab American community involved in this race will be huge for us.

Q: Are there specific things you would like to hear from the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates during the debates?

I am looking for the candidates to discuss more about policy and less about empty rhetoric.  We are at a point where the most pressing issue today is on Syria and I would like to see more realistic plans on how to end the conflict in Syria.

Q: What do you believe are the most important issues for your local community, your state, and the U.S. in this election?

On a local level in Anaheim it's the corporate giveaways. We live in a huge city that has Disneyland and a convention center but city resources only go to small parts of the city. We need to focus on improving the rest of the city. On the state level, I think the anti-BDS legislation that was recently passed and signed. It will have a huge impact on our community and our ability to engage in activism both on campuses and abroad.

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