By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Candidates vying for the 15th District state representative seat in this year’s primary participated in a public forum held by the Dearborn Democratic Club June 29 at UAW Local 245.
All six candidates were invited, but only Brian Stone, Abdullah Hammoud, Roxanne McDonald and Jacklin Zeidan attended, with Alex Shami and Norman Alsahoury absent.
At the hour-long forum, the candidates faced questions on why they are running for the position, transportation, three issues facing the area, plans to create new jobs and improve people’s quality of life within the district.
Zeidan has been been a PTA president, small business owner and Dearborn Democratic Club Executive Board member for 24 years.
Stone served in the U.S. Navy and is a board trustee on the 12th District Democratic Party and communications chairman of the Dearborn Democratic Club.
McDonald is a trustee for the Dearborn Public Schools and Henry Ford College, and is on the board of the HFC Foundation Board, the Dearborn Goodfellows, The Wayne County Association of School Boards and Michigan Military Moms.
Hammoud was born and raised in Dearborn, is a board member for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters and has earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s in public health.
Alsahoury is a local business owner and has education in law enforcement, and Shami is a former DPS board member and retired Wayne County Community College District instructor.
The four candidates listed education, public services, civil rights, health care, infrastructure, environment, Islamophobia and insurance as most important.
On the topic of creating jobs, candidates cited small businesses, education, energy and infrastructure as top priorities.
“We have small business incubators which help get businesses off the ground,” McDonald said. “We have to invest in our infrastructure and go back to manufacturing in our state.”
“Infrastructure, municipality efficiency and solar energy are areas we can look toward for jobs,” Zeidan said. “At the end of the day if you don’t have an educated work force, it doesn’t work. If we don’t invest in our educational system, it doesn’t work.”
All four candidates were asked why they should get the public’s vote.
“I’m a product of product of the city of Dearborn,” Hammoud said. “I have real state level policy experience and have established working relationships with individuals in Lansing.”
“There’s only candidate here who has affected state wide change,” Stone said. “I led the effort to get veterans in-state tuition across all colleges and universities. That’s why you should vote for me, because I have already done the work you are interviewing someone for.”
“I have been part of this community for more than 20 years,” McDonald said. “You have seen me out there working. I want to be your voice and I have been entrusted to educate your children and I like you to give me your same trust to represent you in Lansing.”
“I am Dearborn, I am not a politician,” Zeidan said. “I’m a public servant and your neighbor who is going through the same things you are going through. No one is going to deliver more than me because at the end of the day I am going to be that voice for you no matter what.
Each candidate was also asked by an audience member what type of car they each own.
Zeidan said she owns a Ford, Chevrolet and Chrysler; McDonald has a Chrysler and Ford; Hammoud owns a Chrysler; and Stone drives a Ford.
Current state Rep. George Darany is term-limited after serving six years in the House since 2010.
Darany was in attendance at the forum and made his endorsement in McDonald, but said he was impressed by all the candidates.
“Each candidate showed the passion needed to do this job because it’s not an easy job once you get to Lansing,” he said. “They need to work hard and focus on the issues they can get done and not just on the impossible issues.”
For more information on the primary and general election go to lwvddh.org.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)