Growing number of Bangladeshi, Hmong Americans running for Warren City Council

APIA Vote Michigan’s Rebekah Islam spoke with WDET about the need for Asian and Pacific Islander American candidates to run for office.

Warren Civic Center building.

Warren’s city council members are currently all white, but a growing number of candidates running in the August primary are Asian. Last election, one city council candidate was Bangladeshi American. This year, that number has increased to five, plus a Hmong American is also seeking a city council seat.

“To my understanding, at this time, this is historic,” says Rebeka Islam, the executive director of APIA Vote Michigan, a nonprofit that works with Asian and Pacific Islander Americans. “We have yet to have an Asian American city council member in Warren.”

The candidates include Khaja Shahab Ahmed running for council at large, Khaja Afzal Hussain, Mo Islam and Shabbir Khan running for city council District 1, Kabir Ahmed running for District 2 and Seng Xiong running for District 4.

Rebeka Islam stands next to flag
Rebeka Islam, the executive director of APIA Vote – Michigan

Listen: Rebeka Islam talks the need for AAPI candidates to run for office

People in Warren who identified as Asian doubled, from five percent in 2010 to 10% in 2020, according to the U.S. Census. This is due in large part to an increase in the Bangladeshi and Hmong populations who started fleeing to Detroit in the 1990s and increasingly moving northward since then, following the pathway of Polish and Chaldean immigrants before them.

About 2,600 Bangladeshi people, or 1.9% of Warren’s population, were estimated to be living in Warren in 2015, according to American Community Survey data. At the same time, 775 Hmong people , or 0.6% of Warren’s population, were estimated to be living in the city.

“The population, the diversity of this community is changing and it needs to be reflected in its leadership so that we know those who are making decisions understand the needs of the community,” says Islam.

Michigan’s primary election is Tuesday, August 8.

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  • Laura Herberg
    Laura Herberg is a Reporter for 101.9 WDET, telling the stories about people inhabiting the Detroit region and the issues that affect us here.