Former Detroit Health Director Talks About Jumping Into Race for Governor

Laura Weber Davis/WDET

Abdul El-Sayed on Detroit Today in October, 2016

The 2018 race for governor is beginning to take shape, and we already have a sense of which well-known politicians in Michigan are eyeing a run.

But we’re also beginning to see interest from people who aren’t as entrenched in state politics. In early February, former Detroit health director, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed launched his campaign. He’s a 32-year-old Rhodes Scholar and the son of parents who fled Egypt under political duress. He left his job with the city to run for governor. 

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson asks him why he would leave that role to enter the world of state politics.


People need a servant of the people who believes that government is not a business,” says El-Sayed. “Government is this beautiful thing that we do in this country for people and by people that provides real services… I’m a doctor, I’m an educator, I’m a public servant…I spent my career dreaming about being somebody who could provide basic support services for people and support their health.”

Speaking of health, Henderson asks how El-Sayed’s extensive background in the field will affect how he would approach governing the state.

Health is a great lens from which to see the challenges that people face,” he says. “It really is fundamentally about using that frame of public health, not just to fix the tremendous public health challenges that we have across the state, but also to asking upstream questions about… things that we need to do in terms of providing meaningful jobs for people, reinvesting in public education, and yes, fixing the public health infrastructure that are going to create whole communities again.”

To hear the full conversation with Stephen Henderson Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, click on the audio player above.

Image credit: Laura Weber Davis/WDET

This post is a part of 2018 Elections in Michigan.

In November, Michigan voters will decide who will be the state's new governor, attorney general and secretary of state. Some state House and Senate seats are up for grabs, and numerous initiatives are expected on ballots.

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Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.

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