Posted by Heba Mohammad on November 06, 2019 in Blog
Yesterday’s election saw a large number of Arab Americans of varying backgrounds on the ballot, many of whom won their races, and all of whom ran impressive, responsive campaigns.
Virginia saw a number of Arab American victories in the House of Delegates. Three incumbents, Sam Rasoul (D-11), Hala Ayala (D-51), and newest member Ibraheem Samirah (D-86) all won reelection, joining the wave of Democrats elected and reelected in Virginia to turn the state over the Democratic Party control for the first time since 1993. The bump in voter turnout was markedly higher than previous years, leading to a temporary ballot shortage in Richmond, VA.
Virginian voters also demonstrated their enthusiasm for down-ballot races in Virginia, electing Abrar Omeish to the Fairfax County School Board. Omeish, who is likely the first American of Libyan descent to run for office successfully, ran a steady, grassroots focused campaign, knocking 16,000 doors and registering more than 1,500 new voters. This is Omeish’s second campaign for school board, proving that persistence and passion pay off. Joining Omeish as school board members are John Dabeet in Iowa, who was reelected to the Muscatine School Board for a second term, and newcomer Abdisalam Adam, the first Somali American to be elected to Fridley School Board in Minnesota.
Across the country, there are a plethora of new and returning Arab American city council members. In Hamtramck, Michigan, incumbent Saad Almasmari and Mohammed Alsomiri won seats on the council. Dave Abdallah won reelection in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, as did Annissa Essaibi-George in a tight race in Boston, Massachusetts.
In Lewiston, Maine, Saifya Khalid won her race with 69% of the vote despite bigoted attacks that plagued her campaign. This makes Safiya, who came to the United States as a refugee, the youngest person and the first American of Somali descent elected to Lewiston’s City Council. Joining Safiya as a new, young city councilor is Nadia Mohamed, who won her race in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Also Somali American and also 23 years old, Nadia won a ranked choice voting election, garnering 63% of the first round votes.
Significantly, New York City voted yes on Question 1 to bring Ranked Choice Voting to the city. The measure passed with over 70% approval, ushering in a new era of voting in the Big Apple. AAI endorsed the ballot initiative, spearheaded by Rank the Vote NYC, because it will upgrade NYC’s voting system to a better model that allows voters to rank their top five candidates. This system empowers voters, saves time and money, and ensures candidates are bringing their best to all communities. Congratulations, New York City!
Many more Arab Americans won on Tuesday, and AAI congratulates every one of them. There are also a number of Arab Americans who put their hearts into races this year that did not result in a win…this time. From Michigan to Arizona to New Jersey, community members embarked on the campaign trail in hopes their election would make their community a better place, and that is something to be proud of. Every candidate deserves a round of applause, and we look forward to seeing what comes next for each one.