Rashida Tlaib might be running for State Representative for the first time, but she’s no newcomer to the area or to the issues. Residents know her by name, she’s visited their homes on her door-to-door campaign, and she’s part of a growing group of those who work in “service politics”. A self-described “daughter of the community” and “product of the culturally vibrant community of Southwest Detroit”, Rashida Tlaib is looking to represent Michigan’s 12th District, the district she grew up in.

Tlaib’s history of working in public policy and legal services is a natural fit for this position. She worked for a number of local service providers as well as for the current State Representative, House Floor Leader Steve Tobocman. Tlaib says “I think of myself as more of a social worker than a politician. It took another community activist to tell me how important it was to have “people like us” in the state legislature that believed in “service politics” where legislation and helping people through everyday issues went hand in hand.”

With Tlaib already working on public policy issues that were important to Southwest Detroit, she says it felt completely natural to talk about those issues with residents during her door-to-door campaign. Having grown up in the community and worked at local nonprofits in the area, she had already developed a relationship with people. Each of the residents was given an opportunity to personally interview her – “They are my employers!” she points out – and at the polls on Election Day, residents called her by her first name and knew who she was before they walked inside to vote.

“I am a true believer that a focused and aggressive grassroots campaign is the most effective way in earning voters’ support and respect. I have a unique name, similar to Sen. Barack Obama, but that didn’t matter to my residents and neither did my religion or ethnicity when I came to their door.” Her district is not heavily Arab-American; they make up only 2% of the population. Southwest Detroit is over 40% Latino and the rest is a mixture of European immigrants and African Americans. Tlaib visited each home twice and walked every street in the district at least twice. “My community appreciated my work ethic and my sincerity of wanting to make a difference by representing them in the state legislature. They know that I will always have the best interest of the community in mind with every decision I make. ”

It is clear that the residents of her community love the fact that she is not a career politician, but rather a daughter of the community. Tlaib has promised to work side by side with residents to fight corporate and special interests that negatively impact the environment and their quality of life. Southwest Detroit is surrounded by some of the most egregious polluting companies, and Tlaib has assured residents that she can’t be bought. Another goal of Tlaib’s is to open a district office that provided comprehensive services such as foreclosure prevention, legal referrals, free tax preparation, reporting illegal dumping and crime in the community. State representatives are not permitted to use funds allocated by the state for such an office, so Tlaib will fundraise every year to provide this service to the community.

Rashida Tlaib counts herself as a perfect example of why everyone should be involved in politics. “I am a product of all the work that the Arab American community has put forward so far. If it wasn’t the community mobilizing themselves and organizing their voice, I would not have ever run for office. If we give up now, then we will go back to the years where we weren’t represented at National Conventions or even viewed as an important constituency.” Tlaib urges everyone to go out and vote this November 4th, because “if you stay home on November 4th, then you are agreeing with these unjust policies that have been enacted post-9/11, with our community as the primary target of the current administration. I don’t want my son to worry about so called “no fly list” or if his donation to an organization is suspect.”

Tlaib points out that in this presidential election, Michigan it is especially important. “The community here is given a unique opportunity to advocate for a voice in the new administration. They are helping shape policies that impact Arab American families across the United States, and I am thankful for the opportunity to be given a position in the Obama campaign to highlight the diverse talent of the Arab American community in Michigan.”

Asked what this win means for her personally, Tlaib responds, “I was so proud of my community and it gave me faith that the America I was raised in is a place where anyone, no matter their background, can reach their dream.”

To donate or become involved with Rashida Tlaib’s campaign, please visit www.rashida4rep.com.

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David-Imad Ramadan has been a Republican activist at both a grassroots and national level since he moved to Washington, DC in 1989.  Over the last twenty years, he has worked on every presidential campaign on the Republican side and has been involved in several gubernatorial and senatorial campaigns.  He is currently the Precinct Captain and Outreach Chair for Loudoun County Republicans, and is involved with the Republican Party of Virginia, the Arab American Coalition for McCain, and the Lebanese American Coalition for McCain.

“This is a very important election for me because of its implications in the Middle East, and the implications for the U.S. economy." says Ramadan, who wholeheartedly supports Senator McCain.  

Ramadan has many roles in his busy life, which he balances between politics and business, domestic and international.  For the past eighteen years, he has managed companies as diverse as jewelry retail, food manufacturing, immigration consulting, management & marketing consulting, and import/export both in the U.S.  and the Middle East.  He founded Rama International Inc., a management and marketing company in 2001, and in 2007 he co-founded Expand to America, a legal and business consulting company.  Since he was appointed as an ad junct professor at George Mason University in 2004, he has continued to teach and volunteer in that capacity.  

With such an extensive background in business, Ramadan feels at ease with his role on doing outreach.  "As a small business owner and operator, it makes it easier for me to approach people that I don’t know, and talk to them about the party, and bring them into the folds of the party." explains Ramadan, "I'm someone who is used to cold-calling and going into business meetings and talking politics, and I'm able to at least agree to disagree."

When asked about the upcoming presidential election, Ramadan thinks Lebanese-Americans are leaning toward McCain because he is clear on his stance supporting a stable government in Lebanon and his support to Lebanon in general.  "Arab Americans in general have disagreed with Republicans and Bush on the Iraq situation for the past several years, and that’s affecting their support for McCain..." says Ramadan, "I argue that should not be the case because no Arab wants Iraq to fail…so we should focus on McCain's stances and not Bush's policies."

Don't forget - “Every vote counts!” emphasizes Ramadan.  "And everyone should be involved; we have a civic duty to be involved in politics and we have a social and cultural duty to our ancestry to vote.  Arab Americans can talk to both sides of the aisles about issues that are 100% local or that affect us nationally.  If we sit at home on election day, we can blame nobody but ourselves.”

His final words?  “Go GOP!”

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National Arab American Dialog on Egypt

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The Arab American Caucus of the Democratic Party of California is promoting civic engagement among the Arab American community in preparation for the 2012 election season. The group encourages Arab American community members to be delegates to the national convention, which excites the local community and incites participation.

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City Supervisor Jane Kim introduced legislation in January 2012 that would subject an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in San Francisco to local oversight. The bill aims to prevent racial profiling and civil rights abuses in counter-terrorism surveillance efforts by prohibiting officers from investigating San Francisco residents without “reasonable suspicion that they are involved in significant criminal activity.”

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