Attorneys elected to council with Arab-American majority

DEARBORN (AP) -- A Detroit suburb with one of the nation's largest Arab communities has elected a City Council with a majority of Arab-Americans for the first time in the city's history.

Following Tuesday's election in Dearborn, attorney Susan Dabaja will become the council president in January. Dabaja, the daughter of Lebanese immigrants, got the most votes and said she remains focused on the city's entire population, just as she was while campaigning.

"We're one Dearborn, we're one family, we're one community," Dabaja told The Detroit Free Press.

The city has a history of tensions as its Arab population increased. Mayor Jack O'Reilly said the new council more greatly reflects the city's makeup.

"It's going to have people feel much more like they're all included in the effort," he told The Detroit News. "That's a positive."

Dabaja and attorney Mike Sareini are the two newest Arab-Americans elected. They join Robert Abraham and David Bazzy, who retained their seats on the seven-member panel, which for the past decade has had multiple Arab-American members.

While boosting diversity could benefit the community, Mike Sareini said he got voter support by addressing residents' concerns.

"They know you want to help," Sareini said. "They know your goal is to serve."

Published: Fri, Nov 8, 2013