City of Dearborn in Michigan elects first Arab-American mayor

Abdullah Hammoud calls for unity as he celebrates milestone victory

Dearborn, Michigan, long considered the “Arab capital” of America, has elected its first-ever Muslim and Arab American to the mayor's office.

Tuesday's victory for Abdullah Hammoud, 31, comes five years after he became the first Muslim American to be elected to represent his district in the state's government.

“The people of Dearborn spoke loudly. They want change and bold leadership to tackle the challenges we face,” Mr Hammoud said.

“Our campaign united the city behind thoughtful solutions that will deliver the city government Dearborn deserves.”

A final unofficial vote count on Wednesday showed Mr Hammoud had an unpassable lead against his challenger, former state representative Gary Woronchak.

Mr Hammoud called for unity in his victory speech, noting Dearborn must tap into its innovative culture to thrive amid the pandemic.

“Dearborn has everything it needs to thrive. We have innovative entrepreneurs and home town corporations, rich culture and vibrant neighbourhoods — we just need to unite and work together as one city,” he said.

Despite a population of more than 100,000, it is difficult to know how many in Dearborn are of Arab descent, because “Arab” is not an option on the US census.

Estimates hover at about 40,000, which makes it the city with the highest concentration of Arabs and people of Arab descent in the US.

Mr Hammoud's father came from Lebanon via Saudi Arabia in the 1980s. His mother, from Bint Jbeil in southern Lebanon, immigrated to Dearborn in 1974.

Dearborn is home to many politically orientated Arab youths and victories like Mr Hammoud's show that they can win high office.

“It's not lost on me that coming from minority backgrounds, there are a number of barriers to entry into politics and most fields of public service,” said Alabas Farhat, a 21-year-old political organiser in Dearborn.

“It really does inspire,” he told The National.

Updated: November 3rd 2021, 2:19 PM
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