By Jenny Yu, Senior Contributor
As we go further into the 2018 election cycle, this is a name that will be making headlines more and more: Fayrouz Saad. At 34 years old, she is running for the U.S. House of Representatives seat for Michigan’s 11th congressional district. If she wins, she will be the first Muslim woman in congress. This is a seat previously held by David Trott that will be up for grabs in the next election. I had the opportunity to chat with Ms. Saad about her passion to serve others, her hope for youth’s political involvement, and her campaign platform.
Saad’s engagement in politics began at a young age. She fondly remembers registering new citizens to vote outside naturalization ceremonies with her sister. This passion continued throughout college when she started interning on John Kerry’s campaign. She went on to work for the Obama Administration and became the Director of Immigrant Affairs for Detroit. Saad gives credit to her experience when asked how her background makes her a good candidate for the position. Because of her experiences, not only has she helped draft and pass legislation, but she has helped implement it as well. This expertise helped her to better understand what works and what doesn’t work in politics. Saad was eventually inspired to run for the house seat when she realized that there were practically no politicians who shared her cultural background, rendering many of her political views underrepresented. She is excited to bring a new perspective to the table and to better diversify the group of lawmakers in D.C.
One of Saad’s goals has always been to help engage both youth and adult citizens in the political system. She loves talking to young people about involving themselves in politics, and wants to set a precedent that age is not a determining factor for political involvement. In her opinion, the viewpoints of young people are often underrepresented because they fail to show up and vote for the causes they support. In our conversation, Saad also stressed to me the importance of mentorship; it is extremely important to have someone to look up to and learn from.
Saad graciously allowed me to pick her brain concerning her political platform and views. I picked up some interesting points that I am excited to share with you all:
Jenny: If you are elected, what are your main goals for policy?
Fayrouz: Health Care reform is definitely one of the most important things in this country right now. I would love to be part of efforts towards universal health care. However, a problem like this is not something that someone can tackle alone, so I am looking forward to collaborating with others on this situation. Secondly, the economy is really important especially in SouthEast Michigan. I think we really need to figure out how to grow our economy in this area, anything from supporting small businesses to moving forward with the ever-changing technology, and encouraging areas like innovation. We want to make sure that we are moving in the right direction without leaving workers behind.
Jenny: Following with the topic of Economics, how do you feel about the fact that money has tainted politics?
Fayrouz: [Regarding campaign finance reforms] I think that is one of the issues that we definitely need to fix as soon as we can. It’s so hard for people to run for office because of the big role that fundraising and money play in elections.
Jenny: Could you talk a little about your education platform?
Fayrouz: I believe that education is a right, and thinking about it through that lense is ensuring that we continue to have a strong public education system in place that kids can have access to. Then, we have to make sure that there is equal accountability amongst all the schools that receive government funding; we have to ensure that we are investing in our students and our teachers. In terms of pathways to education, I think that there are different pathways for everyone. Like, for me the pathway was going to traditional four year university and earning my degrees. I wish that college was more affordable. Making college more affordable is important to make sure that for people who are going on the pathway of college they are able to pursue a higher education without going into debt. Because that isn’t the pathway for everyone, we should also make resources for vocational and apprenticeship programs readily available. We definitely need to change the stigma surrounding these occupations and change the narrative. Reinvesting in these programs would allow young people to think about their futures in many different ways.
As a first time voter in 2018, I am excited to have gotten the chance to meet one of the candidates that could be representing my district in congress. As an Asian female, I am thrilled that women of color are being represented in the political world. And, as a member of the Generation Z, I cannot wait to meet the next generation of world leaders.
Image Credits: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fundraiser-for-fayrouz-saad-tickets-37287484871