Detroit–February 13–The majority of Detroitâ€™s mayoral candidates showed great respect for and an appreciation of the waxing political involvement of Muslims and Arabs by attending a forum at the Islamic Center of Detroit this past Friday evening.
The candidates are racing for the February 24th primary special election to replace Mayor Kilpatrick.
The front runner appears to be the interim mayor, Kenneth Cockrel Jr.
Nicholas Hood III appeared to be the most confident candidate who appeared at the forum, dubbed the â€œDetroit Mayoral Candidate Forumâ€ and cosponsored by the Islamic Center of Detroit on Tireman, the Arab American Public Affairs council (AAPAC), the Michigan chapter of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the Arab Student Union of UM Dearborn, and CAIR-Michigan.
Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab American News, was the Emcee for the event, working with Tarek Baydoun, who is also a prominent leader in Dearbornâ€™s Arab community and active also in the religious programs of Dearborn.
Siblani explained that event organizers had chosen the ICD as the intersection between all of the different communities, and in fact ICD is close to the center of gravity of the different Muslim communities in the Detroit area.
Councilman Hood has the polish of a professional politician. He speaks confidently; can work a room; makes eye contact; thinks on his feet; can say what he should. He is an elected city councilman whose father before him was also a politician.
Troublingly, he has been slow to produce necessary financial records, however, as reported in the Detroit Free Press.
One very encouraging note that Hood sounded was a story about a recent meeting with elder statesman and former ambassador to the UN Andrew Young, in Atlanta. Young told Hood that it was Arab money that had turned Atlanta around, and he said he would tell Hood how Detroit could follow in Atlantaâ€™s recovery footsteps.
We hope this signals a growing openness to Muslims and Arabs on the political, business, and cultural and social levels.
Event organizers were disappointed that two confirmed participant candidates did not appear at the event, namely Freeman Hendricks and Coleman Young.
There were also many present who are unlikely to win the race, but whose presence is still a tribute to the inclusive event. Such candidates included Stanley Christmas, who showed much knowledge of Islam, and Joseph Holt.