Abdullah Hammoud made history Tuesday night after voters elected him Dearborn’s first Arab American and Muslim mayor.
Crowds gathered at the Mohammed Turfe Community Center in Dearborn cheered as results confirmed his victory and Hammoud took to the stage.
“To the young girls and boys who have been ridiculed for their faith or ethnicity, to those of you who were ever made to feel that their names are unwelcome, and to our parents and to others who are humiliated for their broken English and yet are still persisted — today is proof that you are as American as anyone else and there is a new era in Dearborn,” he said.
“While the night marks the first of many, we never ran to be the first, we ran to be the best.”
Hammoud spoke of lowering taxes for working families, creating safer roads and fixing infrastructure.
According to unofficial results with all precincts reporting, he won nearly 55% of the vote, defeating opponent Gary Woronchak, who has served as a Wayne County commissioner, managing editor of The Daily Tribune, and editor of Dearborn Press and Guide. He has also represented Dearborn in the State House, just like Hammoud.
Since 2016, Hammoud has been a state representative for the 15th District covering Dearborn. He is the first Arab American to hold that seat. Born and raised in Dearborn, Hammoud is an epidemiologist and a graduate of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. He says he wants to make Dearborn a place where middle-class families can reside. He plans to create a community transition team to provide services for all of Dearborn, including for those who speak Arabic.
Dearborn is home to the largest concentration of Arab Americans in Michigan.
Seydi Sarr, founder of the African Bureau of Immigration & Social Affairs (ABISA) and commissioner with the Black Immigrant Leadership Advisory Council, said “my immigrant heart and my Muslim heart is very full.”
“To sit in here and see all these youth look at themselves and look at Abdullah and see themselves and see the possibilities and the opportunities but also to remember that their parents 30 years ago have been in the city, doing the work … and only 30-something years later be able to witness history … this is awesome.”
Sarr said she feels like there is now representation for people who look like her in the mayor’s office.
“I have somebody I can talk to, I can address racial justice issues. I can talk about the fringe of the given community who look like me, and I know that that fringe is gonna have an ear because Abdullah is that person,” she said.
Hammoud is Dearborn’s first new mayor in 14 years, since voters elected Mayor Jack O’Reilly Jr. in 2007. Reilly has been largely missing from the public eye since last year before the pandemic, citing health issues. O’Reilly became mayor following Mayor Michael Guido’s death.
Policing and flooding were the key issues during the current mayoral campaign. Candidates focused on flooding throughout the summer, citing that Dearborn officials pledged to create better infrastructure to separate water and sewer lines, after the last floods in 2014 when metro Detroit also suffered disastrous water damage. Hammoud mobilized volunteers throughout the city in the cleanup efforts after the floods. He says government officials should meet people where they are to assist those in need.
Voters said they want a mayor and elected officials to work toward accountability and transparency following the nationwide protests stemming from the Black Lives Matter movement and the death of George Floyd last year.
Hammoud says Dearborn officials need to investigate how police are doing their jobs and provide additional mental health resources for residents and first responders. He supports shifting resources from enforcing nonmoving traffic violations to serious violations such as reckless driving and speeding. According to his campaign, in Dearborn, from 2010-2019, over 60% of nonmoving traffic citations were issued to Black drivers.