Community fundraises for 2010 Gov. candidate
By Khalil AlHajal | Friday, 12.18.2009, 05:42 PM

DEARBORN — A group of Arab American businesspeople and activists held a fundraising dinner for 2010 gubernatorial candidate Michael Bouchard on Tuesday at Byblos Banquet Hall.

Osama Siblani, who is publisher of The Arab American News, stands with 2010 gubernatorial candidate Michael Bouchard during a campaign fundraiser Tuesday.                        PHOTO: Nafeh AbuNab

Political activist Osama Siblani, who organized the fundraiser, said he is raising early support for Bouchard because the Oakland County Sheriff represents what Siblani described as an opportunity for change and a challenge to the status quo in Michigan politics and economy. Siblani is publisher of The Arab American News.

"Michigan needs someone like Mike Bouchard," Siblani told a crowd of about 150 who bought $100 tickets to attend the fundraiser. "Somebody has to repair the damage."

He said that based on Bouchard's leadership in current and past elected positions, he believes the candidate can "take the state out of the stagnant economy that we're suffering from."

"He's capable. He's a leader and he is going to make it," Siblani said.

He described Bouchard as the only local Republican who stood by the Arab American community over the years in the midst of backlash after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

"This community was deserted by most politicians... all Republicans — but not Michael Bouchard," he said. "At the most difficult time, he was there. This is the time that we need to be there for him."

Bouchard played up his Arab American roots and small business background in addressing the group.

"When my grandfather came from Lebanon, he started a small business," he said. "I understand how bad policy can cripple small business."

Bouchard criticized state taxes that he described as "punishing on businesses." He said he would push for low, predictable timely regulation and low taxes that would be "profit-based, not activity-based."

A former state Senate majority floor leader, Bouchard said that in his current post as Oakland County Sheriff, he's cut $20 million from his budget by doing things like shiftng focus, out of necessity, to violent crime and less on non-violent criminals, and by measures like implementing a bidding process for jail food service contracting, which he said saved $1.6 million alone.

He also responded to complaints of an ongoing lack of available credit plaguing small businesses.

"As Governor, I'll go to Washington and to New York and push hard for liquidity... and available lines of credit," he said.

He described himself as a leader willing to reach across party lines and work with anyone to get results.

"I think we're all tired of Republicans and Democrats throwing tomatoes at each other all day long," he said. "I want results."

By Khalil AlHajal

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