DEARBORN — The Arab American Political Action Committee (AAPAC) held their "Meet the Candidates Night" at Byblos Banquet Hall in Dearborn, on Wednesday evening, where dozens of candidates turned out to garner support from the well followed organization almost four weeks before the general election on November 6.
|Dozens of candidates participated in AAPAC "Meet the Candidates Night"|
Representatives advocating for proposals 2 and 3 were also on hand to articulate their positions.
Internal Vice President of APAAC, Attorney Ali Hammoud who was the emcee of the event, gave each candidate two minutes to introduce themselves as well as briefly discuss their platforms to the attending crowed, which included community leaders, activists, students and members of AAPAC. At the end of the event which lasted two hours, the audience was given an opportunity to submit written questions to candidates. Salamey was asked to describe what kind of changes he would make at the 19th District Court if elected, in which he responded that he would be willing to donate five percent of his salary to help cover the financially troubled juvenile department in the District Court.
"The first thing I would do in the 19th District Court is support and promote the concept of team work. Unfortunately, right now we have three judges in the court, but it feels like we have three separate courts in one building. I would like to have one building with three judges in it. For the last eight years the 19th District Court has been tapping into the general tax fund, and even though the case-load has increased, the revenue has dwindled, and that is because some of the judges are not assessing the proper fines. I went on record stating that I will donate five percent of my salary as a judge to make sure that this court is properly and adequately financed," Salamey stated.
Meanwhile Salamey’s opponent Richard Wygonik was asked to describe the positive changes he has made at the 19th District Court since serving as a judge.
“We have first of all streamlined the admnistration. The court administrator who was the court administrator of the previous six years is no longer the court administrator. We’ve re-hired the former court administrator Sharon Langen and under the pressure of the city council, we’ve had to reduce our budget, so we eliminated an executive position... now we have two court administrators doing the jobs of three and a half people,” Wygonik stated.
Both Zeinab Hussein and Hamid Souedan, candidates of the Crestwood School District in Dearborn Heights addressed the issue regarding the lack of ESL staff at the district, which continues to be a problem that has left many parents displeased for the last several months, resulting in tension-filled school board meetings that only recently have shown signs of progress.
|Participants at AAPAC "Meet the Candidates Night". PHOTOS: Nafeh AbuNab|
Souedan who was recently appointed to the Crestwood School Board and is running to retain his seat, followed up on Hussein's statements by saying that he'd also like to focus on wasteful spending, while making sure that the district adheres to state and federal mandates.
Many of the candidates stressed the importance of garnering support from the Arab-American community, acknowledging their prominent presence in the Detroit Metro area. State Representative candidate David Knezek told The Arab American News that his relationship with the Arab American community will be strengthened and he will represent the interest of all his constituents including the Arab community, in the state capital if he is elected on November 6.
"One of the most important duties for a State Rep. is to stay connected to the community and your constituents. Today was a great opportunity to meet and discuss legislative issues of importance to the Arab community that will be discussed in Lansing," Knezek stated.
AAPAC is expected to issue its endorsements for candidates in the general election in a special meeting for its general membership on October 8th, where members will meet and vote on the recommendations given by the endorsement committee. Only candidates who obtain two thirds of the vote by the body of the general membership will officially be endorsed. Most candidates were granted private interviews by the AAPAC endorsement committee between August 20 and October 7. The full list of endorsed candidates will be published in a special bilingual election publication that AAPAC publishes on every election season, as it has for the past 14 years. The publication will be mailed to all Arab American registered voters in battle ground areas. The list will also be promoted in The Arab American News.
During election day on November 6, AAPAC volunteers will man the polls at concentrated Arab American precincts, where they will distribute a slate of endorsed candidates to Arab American voters.
AAPAC president Mariam Bazzi stated after the "Meet the Candidates Night" that the large candidate turnout at the event all the more solidifies the importance of the Arab American vote in Michigan.
"Today's event shows the strength of this community and highlights the difference that both AAPAC and Arab Americans are making in the elections," Bazzi said.
AAPAC will hold its 15th annual dinner on Friday, November 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm, at Bint Jebail Cultural Center in Dearborn. Tickets are $50/person. Dinner revenues will be used to promote endorsed candidates and other election activities of the organization. for more information, visit www.aapac.org.