Arab American PAC interviews candidates
By Nick Meyer - The Arab American News | Friday, 09.19.2008, 01:02 PM

DEARBORN — With election season fast approaching, the Arab American Political Action Committee (AAPAC) conducted personal interviews of five local candidates at The Arab American News office in Dearborn on Monday.

The goal of the interviews was to get to know each candidate on a deeper level through 15-minute question-and-answer sessions on the important issues. Next on the agenda for AAPAC is to meet, discuss, and vote on which candidates they will endorse as a group.

Present for the interviews were members of AAPAC as well as other Arab community leaders. AAPAC Endorsement Chairman Abed Hammoud moderated the interviews of the following candidates: Diane Webb, who's running for Wayne County Commissioner of the 9th District; Diane Hathaway, who's running for a spot on the Michigan Supreme Court; Andy Meisner, who's running for Oakland County Treasurer; Candace Abbatt, who is running for 19th District Court Judge in Dearborn, and Mark Somers, who is the current 19th District Court Judge.

Webb talked about her goal of being a "true representative of the people" if elected as County Commissioner. She used to be a lobbyist and noticed a "lack of integrity that made me sick," she said, motivating her to run for office.

Hathaway spoke about the need for change in the Supreme Court, specifically the need for someone who won't bow to special interests such as insurance companies. She also plans to fight against drug companies, who use lobbyists to get drugs passed by the FDA but aren't held liable in Michigan when the drugs harm people.

Meisner's main area of focus in Oakland County is solving the foreclosure problem. There were 14,071 foreclosure filings in Oakland County in 2007 alone.

Candace Abbatt, a lifelong Dearborn resident and lawyer, is running for 19th District Court Judge because she believes that the incumbent Somers is not doing a good job, pointing out the three federal lawsuits he is facing from former female employees alleging gender and religious discrimination.

Somers touted his job performance in his interview, pointing out that of the more than 30,000 cases he's ruled on in the last six years, only two of them have been overturned. Regarding the lawsuits, Somers maintains that the firings of the women were the result of performance-related issues as well as the re-shuffling of jobs within the court.

Endorsements will be made by AAPAC on September 24, after which endorsement literature will be mailed to Arab American households in both English and Arabic across the state of Michigan. AAPAC will also discuss potential financial contributions to candidates the group chooses to endorse. Another meeting in October will address the remaining races.

By Nick Meyer - The Arab American News

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