OREGON: Sami Al-Abdrabbuh, a Democratic candidate for the US Congress who hopes to represent the state of Oregon’s fourth congressional district, sees himself as a natural problem solver.
“Call me an American who loves to solve problems,” he said.
Al-Abdrabbuh, a local school board chair, university teacher and community organizer, is hoping to replace retiring congressman Peter DeFazio, the powerful chairman of the US House Transportation Committee who served 36 years in Congress — the longest-serving member of US Congress in Oregon’s history.
He told Arab News that his candidacy will bring a new vision and diversity to the district as he hopes to build on his work as chair of the city of Corvallis school board where he was successfully elected for several years in a row.
Al-Abdrabbuh said that his election platform is centered on his sense of responsibility toward community and society and providing the public with the right to have education and health care security as well as climate justice.
He told Arab News that education is the cornerstone of democracy. This is why he ran for the school board, which he said has had an impact in benefiting students and teachers as well as parents. In addition to his background in education and environmental suitability, he said that he offers legislative and budgetary experience.
Al-Abdrabbuh, who was born in Arizona, has a Ph.D in engineering, which he says is what makes him a “problem solver.” He currently teaches at a state university and works as a consultant for a technology company.
He said that he wanted to run for US Congress because he believes a sense of responsibility and public service is the way to make a community and society a better place to live and work in, and it is part of his personality to volunteer and contribute to public life.
“This is what I have been doing all of my life, I volunteer my time to help solve problems. I am a problem solver, which is natural for me as an engineer,” he said.
He said that he is no stranger to Democratic Party politics in the state. Al-Abdrabbuh is a member of the Democratic Party Central Committee in Oregon and was one of the state delegates who cast his vote for Biden in the 2020 elections.
Despite having DeFazio as its long-time democratic congressman and it being a mostly Democratic district, the coming election is expected to see a strong push to convert it to a Republican column.
The 2022 elections are expected to favor the Republicans, who are predicted to win control of Congress in the second half of US President Joe Biden’s term.
On broader policy issues, Al-Abdrabbuh believes that he will continue the “wonderful work” of DeFazio in the district, especially in infrastructure, and build his own track record to make it more sustainable. He wants to further develop the district in a way that will help the next generation cope with new challenges.
Al-Abdrabbuh sees himself as a candidate who is willing to work with all representatives regardless of ideological or party affiliation.
“At the end of the day I see myself as Sami, a name that means pursuing the highest ideals and ethical standards, and I would be building solutions based on that.”
Al-Abdrabbuh said that people could call him a progressive or liberal or moderate. “But what I would love to call myself is an American who loves to solve problems based on ideas of justice and fairness for all.”
He told Arab News that climate change and the environment are very important to him because he believes in environmental sustainability.
Al-Abdrabbuh supports the Green New Deal, a socioeconomic and environmental congressional proposal that calls for addressing climate change sponsored by New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He said that was on record as advocating similar ideas as far back as 2016, calling it then a “Newer Deal,” and that he had driven a solar-powered car across the country with zero carbon emissions.
While the field of candidates to replace DeFazio is expected to be crowded, Al-Abdrabbuh said he is hopeful that the people of the district will recognize his public service and efforts to help the community and environment and put him into Congress.