Dearborn, Mich., is home to the largest Muslim population per capita in the nation. Yet it didn’t elect its first Muslim mayor until 2022 with the victory of Abdullah Hammoud, a 33-year-old who has big plans for his hometown.
Hammoud, a former member of the Michigan House, is rising within the ranks of a Democratic party that shocked the nation when Democrats flipped control of the state Legislature last year, handing the party a ruling trifecta for the first time in 40 years. Michigan and the rest of the Midwest are crucial to the success of Democrats’ 2024 electoral strategy.
“We have to be talking about these wins in a much more tangible way for people to actually see,” Hammoud said. “Let’s go city to city and say, ‘Hey, that highway you constructed, that sinkhole you had fixed, this new water or sewer infrastructure that came in to help prevent water coming into your basement, that was funded because of Democratic leadership and their priorities putting you first above politics.’ We have to be bolder in our messaging.”
Hammoud applied his background in epidemiology early on by creating a local health department, the first city in the state to voluntarily do so. He sees a future for Dearborn that draws upon its diversity to be more fair and effective in policing, advanced in technology and savvy about climate change.
We’re seeing a lot more assistance in terms of dollars coming down to the municipalities. As mayor and as a former legislator, what I will tell you is those closest to the problem are best positioned to tackle the issue. When you’re in Lansing, you’re several degrees away from what’s actually happening on the ground. So the fact that we’ve been getting additional resources and revenue sharing and grant opportunities, that’s helping us do our jobs on a daily basis.
My time in Lansing, I really became fond of appropriations and the budget. That has a far more direct impact than just legislation. What we saw right now was record-breaking budgets for our public school system. We had one of the largest per-pupil increases in history, and that is going to have a direct impact on educating the youth and people of tomorrow.
What I would love to see more of is more resources allocated to water and sewer infrastructure for the purpose of mitigation of flooding. That to me is the highest priority here in the city of Dearborn. We were devastated by floods in 2021. Almost two-thirds of our homes were underwater.
That is largely attributed to the fact that we’re a welcoming city, and we’re the capital of immigration in the state of Michigan. So what you see is a very diverse group of residents coming to live and they understand that Dearborn has this welcoming feel.
What we’re trying to do is make sure we’re making the right investments and what we’ve dubbed “the Dearborn advantage.” What is the advantage to being a Dearborn resident? We’re trying to lay down that value argument.
So we’re doing free books for kids between the ages of 0 and 5 mailed to your doorstep every month through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Foundation. We have 45-plus parks, five community pools, so probably more parks.