DEARBORN — About 75 people attended a fundraiser in support of Democratic State Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s campaign for state senate on Nov. 7 at Habib’s Cuisine here.
Tlaib is running for Michigan State Senate in the 4th District. She will face off against incumbent Sen. Virgil Smith, who currently represents the state’s fourth senate seat.
Running against an incumbent could make winning the race more difficult.
Although Smith is an incumbent, because of redistricting over 50 percent of the district will be new to him, and 48 percent of the district is currently his.
Tlaib says it was very persuasive residents and community leaders that got her to run for a seat on the state senate. “It was a comment from my resident who said, ‘you’re not even going to try for me, you know for us,’” she said.
Tlaib is aiming to raise $100,000 by Dec. 31 for her senate campaign. The fundraiser helped her get closer to that goal. The race will officially kick off in 2014.
Tlaib is currently serving her third term on the state legislature. During her time as a state representative she has become an increasingly popular and trusted political figure.
“I have a really great track record, primarily because I’m a very stable voter. People know where I’m at on issues. I don’t hide it. I don’t go and sell myself for a vote or anything like that. Some people don’t like that, but because of your support I’m able to do that without fear of how am I going to win my next election,” Tlaib told supporters.
While her work in Lansing is important, Tlaib says she’s most proud of the accomplishments of the Neighborhood Service Center she created because it has helped improve the lives of people.
The service center has helped over 400 families save their homes from tax foreclosure; increased access to weatherization programs to over 250 families; stopped utility shutoffs for hundreds of families; gained better city services for thousands of residents; provided free tax preparation services to over 1,500 families; brought in over $1 million in refunds that refueled the local economy; promoted childhood literacy by distributing over 20,000 free books; increased resources available to local block clubs by obtaining over $25,000 in public safety grants and connected hundreds of young people with college admissions representatives and assisted graduating seniors with their financial aid applications.
“It is powerful that I can get calls on my cell phone, and people feel so comfortable telling me what their issues are, I can’t thank all of you enough,” Tlaib said.
Over the years Tlaib has had major influence in changing the perceptions of Arab and Muslim Americans, by using her role as a political figure to present a positive image of them. In Florida, many young people have decided to run for office because of her.
“I’ve been so inspired by the Muslims in Florida, young people who are running for office just because I did,” she said.
For more than two-years Tlaib has also been at the forefront of fighting against scrap medal waste.
She’s worked with colleagues, state and local police, and people from the scrap metal industry to create reasonable regulations to block the market for stolen scrap metal. Scrap metal theft has torn neighborhoods apart. Scrap metal thieves have targeted churches, schools, businesses and even cemeteries.
“I’m considered the girl who fights on scrap medal theft. I’m the girl that will not take no for an answer when it comes to her residents,” Tlaib said. “We’re going to make history again by getting me to the senate.”