Posted by on October 20, 2010 in Blog
Rachel Audi is the Republican candidate running for Maryland’s 47th district seat for the House of Delegates. Audi always embraces the inevitable questions about her last name with a laugh, saying, “People always ask about my name. People ask if I’m German or if I have an Audi car.” The answer to both is no. Audi is a proud American of Arab descent and she announced her candidacy in July to represent Prince George’s County just a month before her father, Norman Audi, passed away of cancer. Audi affectionately discussed how her father exhibited unwavering support for his family and that her father’s diligent outlook on life “empowered me to run” for office. He was the first in his family to attend college and strived to make education a priority for his children. He demonstrated his commitment to education by paying for all six of his children’s undergraduate tuition, including Audi’s Bachelors degree from the University of Maryland. Audi described him as “a man of integrity, faith, and providence” and dedicates the grinding eighteen- hours-a-day campaign schedule to the memory of her father and expressed how she shaped the model for her campaign after the life that he led.
Audi’s Arab heritage is linked with her father’s parents. Audi’s grandfather Samuel “Sam” Audi was born in Ramallah, Palestine and learned the English language after his arrival in the United States. Sam excelled at learning English and enjoyed speaking it so much that Norman never learned Arabic. Sam’s love for American culture and English translated into Norman becoming “Americanized” as Audi described it, and he ended up working for the U.S. government for the majority of his life. Audi’s grandmother, Rose Herro, was Lebanese and Audi cherished the ten years she lived with her. “It was such a delight to live with her. She taught me to make Syrian bread and grape leaves.” The Arab traditions her grandparents and father instilled in her family inspired Audi to visit the Middle East. She visited Jerusalem and the Gaza strip and described how compelling of an experience it was to see “the history of the Bible come alive.” As a devoted Christian of Arab heritage and thus linked with a minority in the region, Audi was prudent in describing the political situation in the region. “I love the marriage of valuing all things Arab, but upholding other minorities such as Jews.”
When asked about the chief issue facing Arab Americans in the United States, Audi was forthright and took particular issue with the use of racial profiling. “Arab men may get an extra scanning at the airport,” she said and elaborated with profound frustration when having to see her father and brother experience unnecessary additional security conditions at airports just because of their Arab appearance. Audi believes it’s imperative for the U.S. to change laws that encourage racial profiling and other discriminatory behavior towards Arab Americans. “The problem is both fear and a lack of culture awareness,” she said and stressed that it was essential “to change laws and hearts” to amend the discriminatory policies facing Arab Americans while emphasizing the fact that “hearts are a lot harder to change.”
Although recent polling reflects that the Arab American community is aligning with the Democratic Party, Audi believes Arab Americans share two core values with the Republican Party. “Independence and freedom. Arab Americans are people of great resource. We work hard and are proud of being financially and culturally strong.” Regardless of political orientation, Audi reaffirmed her commitment to the entire Arab American community. She appealed to her fellow Arab Americans to “support your sister and I’ll support the Arab American community and the Arab families that we are.” Beyond Arab Americans, Audi has reached out to the Hispanic community to get involved with her campaign. “I love the language and I love the people,” she said and embraces speaking Spanish with Hispanic constituents of Prince George’s County.
Above all, Audi’s favorite part of the campaign trail is meeting with the voters as they “appreciate being asked for their vote and we always have a good conversation.” Many local issues are discussed during the conversations; Audi believes the most pressing issue facing the voters of Prince George’s County is the alarming rate of foreclosures in the district. Audi points out that one in ten homes are in foreclosure and Prince George’s is suffering the highest foreclosure rate in the D.C. metro area. She believes the fundamental reason for this is based upon the banks manipulating local minorities, and she endeavors to combat the increasing foreclosure rate by helping “minorities get representation so they can challenge the banks.” And this is a Republican you’re talking to!” Audi points out, “but the law is the law.”
Beyond the campaign trail, Audi recently established a non-profit called RISE, America!, which stands for “Raising Individuals to Stability and Empowerment.” Among RISE, America’s several accomplishments, Audi is proud of securing “the campaign promise of the Prince George’s County Executive candidates, who all agreed to require developers to provide a Community Benefit Agreement before developing, provide multi-year funding for nonprofits, and streamline the grants process.” In brief, if it’s through her non-profit or the political process, Audi will certainly serve the people in her beloved Prince George’s County. “I love the people of Prince George’s county and the people of Maryland. I love the people. It’s home.”