Two Arab-Americans made history on Tuesday night when they were elected as mayors for two cities in the US state of Michigan.
Abdullah Hammoud beat Gary Woronchak to become the first mayor of Arab descent for the city of Dearborn in Detroit, Michigan.
The 31-year-old won with 54.6 percent of the vote, and will now replace the sitting mayor, John B O’Reilly, who has held the seat since 2007.
Dearborn, known for its sizeable Arab-American population, has previously been referred to as the capital of Arab America.
“Throughout this campaign, we said that together we can and together we will bring change,” said Hammoud, addressing supporters on election night at the Mohammed Turfe Community Centre.
“Well tonight, together, we did it,” he proclaimed.
Dearborn, we won!
I’m honored & humbled by today’s support. Our residents spoke loudly — we want change & bold leadership to tackle the challenges our city faces.
We live in the greatest city in America and I’m excited about what we can achieve together.
Let’s get to work! pic.twitter.com/q8u1VmSzdc — Abdullah Hammoud (@AHammoudMI) November 3, 2021
Hammoud told the crowds that he hopes his victory will inspire Arab-Americans and other minorities in the country.
“To the young girls and boys who have ever been ridiculed for their faith or ethnicity, to those of you who were ever made to feel that their names were unwelcome, and to our parents and to our elders and to others who were humiliated for their broken English and yet still persisted, today is proof that you are as American as anyone else. And there is a new era in Dearborn,” he said.
According to 2019 census data, the city of Dearborn, Michigan, is 47 percent Arab-American.
The majority of the city’s Arab-American residents are of Lebanese descent, including Hammoud.
Online, Hammoud’s election victory was hailed by his supporters.
“Making the Lebanese-American community very proud on this historic achievement,” said one Twitter commenter.
“Dearborn will be a better place when you assume office next year. So proud of you and your team. Congrats!!!” wrote another.
Hammoud’s victory was just one of the historic electoral successes announced on Tuesday night.
In the Michigan city of Hamtramck, Amer Ghalib, an immigrant from Yemen, was also elected to the office of mayor, becoming the first non-Polish mayor to lead the city in 100 years.
Ghalib secured 68 percent of the vote, beating his rival incumbent, Mayor Karen Majewski.
Supporters of Ghalib were jubilant at the results, after struggling to secure political representation for the area’s large Muslim community for many years.
“Tonight is a real example that the American Dream is alive and well in the land of opportunity. Our victory tonight is a testament to this possibility — that an immigrant like myself who came here working a factory job at age 17 now has the honour and opportunity to serve the community that raised him as your next mayor,” Ghalib told supporters.
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