Abdul El-Sayed visits NMU to discuss candidacy

Abdul+El-Sayed+visits+NMU+to+discuss+candidacy

Jackie Jahfetson

Democratic candidate for governor of Michigan Abdul El-Sayed visited NMU on Monday, Oct. 9, to talk with students and community members about his future plans for the state if elected.

Welcomed by a large turnout, El-Sayed addressed the crowd with a few questions about the importance of democracy, equality and politics. He began his discussion by illustrating the value of democracy with a brief story about how his parents chose to move from Egypt to America because they believed in the dream that they could build a future just like any other American.

El-Sayed continued his talk with stories about his childhood and the simple freedoms, like a family legacy, that Americans sometimes take for granted. He talked about the choices he made early on and why he decided to dedicate his career to studying health inequalities.

“If you want to understand why people get sick, we spend a lot of time focusing on the biology,” El-Sayed said. “But it usually has a lot more to do with politics.”

Access to valuable resources such as a good-paying job prevents many issues from developing, El-Sayed continued.

He described how he witnessed firsthand the importance of those simple resources and how he rebuilt a broken system when he was appointed as the health commissioner in Detroit.

El-Sayed said after just inspecting inner city schools, the Flint water crisis had raised a lot of questions of whether other schools were exposed to the same lead.

“I saw things like school floors, gym floors buckling because of the amount of mold that was growing under them,” El-Sayed said. “You could smell it the minute you walked by.”

He said he realized that he needed to act rather than stand by and watch things crumble down around him. As health commissioner, he led efforts in making sure every school, daycare and headstart in Detroit was tested for lead in the water.

He said he can’t fathom why after 1,200 days the water issue hasn’t been solved.

“We live in a state where our governor tells us that government is just another business,” El-Sayed said. “If you mess up with the water, you poison 9,000 kids, you treat it like a liability. You just walk away. You ignore it.”

As governor, El-Sayed intends to rebuild the infrastructure of the state with the people of Michigan. People want change and are asking for solutions, he said, and added the challenges the state faces must bring people together and this will require leadership.

“I’m standing up with the 10 million people in this state who are sick and tired of politics that has told them that they cannot have solutions to the problems that we all see.”

With an economy based heavily on mining, logging and seasonal tourism, the Upper Peninsula needs to focus on what empowers small businesses and making long-term plans for building more of an inclusive economy while still preserving traditional jobs of the U.P., El-Sayed said.

“At Northern Michigan, this is a place where you have great ideas that get researched out everyday, and I want those businesses to be built right here in places like Marquette.”

Many of his supporters like senior and political science major, Connor Raak, president of the NMU college democrats, believes El-Sayed has the right qualifications for the job.

“He knows how to fix problems,” Raak said, adding,  “Though he has a young face, El-Sayed has a vision for Michigan, and is willing to work with both sides in order to get things done.”

If elected as the first Muslim governor of the United States, El-Sayed added that he not only wants to be a great governor, but this would illustrate the ideals of America.

“Anybody can aspire and be a leader in this society. That’s a beautiful thing about America.”