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Lawmaker Hammoud elected Dearborn’s 1st Arab American mayor

State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, (D-Dearborn)
Paul Sancya
Associated Press
State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, (D-Dearborn)

Defeated Gary Woronchak by a 55% to 45% margin.

Michigan state Rep. Abdullah Hammoud won the Dearborn mayoral race Tuesday, making him that city’s first Arab American mayor.

A final unofficial vote count for the general election on the city’s website showed Hammoud defeated Gary Woronchak, a former three-term state representative and former Wayne County commissioner, by a 55% to 45% margin.

Dearborn is a city of about 100,000 people that has one of the largest Arab American populations in the nation.

Hammoud, 31, is Muslim. His parents immigrated to the United States from Lebanon.

“To the young girls and boys who have ever been ridiculed for their faith or ethnicity. To those of you who were ever made to feel that their names were unwelcome and to our parents and to our elders and to others who are humiliated for their broken English and yet still persistent, today is proof that you are as American as anyone else and there is a new era in Dearborn,” he said.

Hammoud is serving his third term in the Michigan House. He has a master’s degree in business administration and a master’s in public health from the University of Michigan.

Dearborn has a large Arab American population, but the city’s past includes efforts by longtime segregationist Mayor Orville Hubbard to keep Black families from moving into the then-mostly white community. Hubbard was mayor from 1942 to 1977 and died in 1982.

Dearborn’s City Council voted earlier this year to remove Hubbard’s name from a civic center ballroom, and a statue of him was removed from outside City Hall in 2015 following pressure from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. The statue then was stored on the grounds of the Dearborn Historical Museum until last June when it was taken down and turned over to Hubbard’s family.

Over the past few decades, Dearborn has become more racially diverse. About a third of the city’s residents are of Middle Eastern descent and about 4% are Black.