Atlanta: An Arab-American civil rights attorney and community organizer is running for a Democratic seat in the US Congress, in the newly drawn 10th congressional district in the battleground state of Michigan.
Huwaida Arraf, a human rights defender well-known for her work empowering local communities, is hoping to win the congressional seat through her message of unity and a common vision in her diverse district.
Arraf, whose parents settled in Michigan after emigrating from Palestine, is running in a newly drawn congressional district in the suburbs of the city of Detroit that has no incumbent and is roughly divided equally between Republican and Democratic voters. So far, she is the only Democratic candidate running for the critical seat.
Michigan is considered a hotly contested battleground state, alternating between the Democratic and Republican parties.
With the new congressional districting approved last month, both parties are vying to control the state legislature and its congressional representatives for the next 10 years, when a new census takes place.
Local and state elections are a key indicator of who will win the state in the next presidential election.
President Joe Biden won the state in 2020, bringing it back to the Democratic “blue wall “after his predecessor Donald Trump narrowly flipped it to the Republicans in 2016.
Arraf told Arab News that her campaign is about uniting people, not dividing or labeling them. Alluding to the current divisive political environment in the US, she said she is staying away from buzzwords and language that cause people to argue instead of listen to each other.
“I want to unite people on a vision first before we can start talking about specifics,” she said, adding that voters from across the political spectrum “want decent jobs, good healthcare and a better economy.”
She said: “I’m running for Congress because every Michigan family wants the same things: Good jobs, quality schools, safe neighborhoods, resilient infrastructure and healthy communities.”
On the issue of gun ownership and mass shootings in US schools, Arraf said she supports “responsible gun ownership,” including firearm safety training and secure storage.
“No one should drop their children off at school in the morning worrying whether they’ll come home safely at the end of the day,” the mother of two added.
Referring to political hyperbole about America’s position in the world, she said: “I think one should judge the success of a country based on the wellbeing of its population. Some people talk about having the strongest or the greatest country in the world, but when your people are homeless, or don’t have enough to eat, or have to ration their medicine, or can’t get the healthcare they need, or are attacking each other, how strong really are we? I’m all for building up the strength of our country by building up its core, which is the people.”
If elected, Arraf pledges to become a strong voice for key sectors in Michigan’s economy, and to support small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Two decades ago, she co-founded the International Solidarity Movement, “a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the long-entrenched and systematic oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian population using non-violent, direct-action methods and principles.” In 2004, its work was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.