‪Know your 19th District Judge Candidates Susan A. Dabaja


By Stephen Coats

The Yemeni American news


We recently sat down for an exclusive interview with Susan A.Dabaja, the current President of the Dearborn City Council at her office inDearborn.  She is a candidate for the 19th District Court here in Dearborn.  Susan is a very engaging and colorful person and here are some of the things she had to say…

“I was born and raised here in Dearborn Michigan, I grewup in the south end. I lived there until I was 20 years old. I had a reallygreat childhood and really great experiences during those 20 years. I went toSalina Elementary, then Stout Middle School and graduated from Edsel Ford HighSchool in 1995. From there I went to U of M Dearborn. I had a passion for speaking,being vocal and speaking for those that didn’t want to speak for themselves.By the time I graduated from U of M Dearborn I had gotten married and I had ababy girl named Claudia.”

“I went on to start my Master’s degree at Wayne State University,during which time I applied to Law School and I was accepted at University of DetroitMercy. I really learned more about who I am; what type of leader I would be in the future, sharing my opinions, representingpeople and their causes or their own passions. When I was in law school,I was the mother of one littler girl, but I also had my second little girl inmy second year of law school and it was really quite a task raising a youngfamily and going to law school. I had a great support system at home, withmy husband, my mom and my sisters. They really allowed me to fulfill my dreamof becoming an attorney. So I graduated with two little girls and graduatedfirst in my law school class. I was very proud of that accomplishment, onlybecause I knew the struggles I had to deal with to get to that point.”

“Usually when you graduate first in your class you haveyour choice of where you want to work, but I knew at that point I was notinterested in working at one of the larger law firms. I wanted to be a mom,I wanted to be part of the community here in Dearborn, I wanted to be involved inour city, and I wanted to be able to volunteer. So, I started to look for ajob locally here in Dearborn. I interviewed with Sam Salamey who is now ourchief judge in the court and I started to work with him.”

“Since I was a little girl, I have always been told that,‘you are very outspoken’ or ‘you really know how to voice your opinions.’ It’snot about being the loudest, I think it’s really about being passionate aboutsomething, wanting people to know how you feel about something and being ableto share that with people in an effective way, so that perhaps you can make adifference in the world.  Because Ithink what’s really important in raising our children is teaching them whattheir role would be in society and how they can give back and contribute.”

“For 9 years I was practicing, I had builtmy practice, have a great clientele base but I knew that I wanted more. I feltthat I could contribute more to our city, so I decided to run for city counciland at the time I just wanted a seat on council, but I really worked hard and Ibelieve if you want something you really have to earn it. So I ran a grassroots campaign and lo and behold I was the highest vote getter which earned methe spot of Council President. I remember that evening thinking that everyonearound me was excited I got this seat as the first Arab American in that role.As the hours went by it sort of dawned on me that as the Council Presidentthere comes a lot of responsibility. I didn’t want to disappoint. I knew thestandard was going to be high but for myself I set the standard even higher. Onething that I have made clear from day one is that I am there to serve everysingle resident.”

“Just recently I decided to run for the 19thDistrict Court Judge seat.  I feel thatmy background, my qualifications, my experience as an attorney is somethingthat I can also bring forth to the residents of Dearborn and utilize in thecourthouse. It’s important that we have qualified, experienced people serving onthat bench. But also people that have been involved in the community, peoplethat understand what Dearborn is about. I am a known commodity to theDearborn residents. You want someone that understands this city. Iunderstand this city inside and out.  Iunderstand them as a parent who is raising her three children here.  I understand them as resident who has livedhere just about her entire life.  Iunderstand the city as a taxpayer. I understand this city as somebody that hasserved on City Council.”

“After practicing for some years I’ve had judges ask meto mediate cases and mediators do is meet with both sides of a law suit or bothparties and try to see if they can reach common ground, a compromise or a balancedsolution. I decided to go get trained for that and now I mediate cases and Ihave had a successful mediation rate.”

“My heart is invested here; my family is invested here. Idon’t see myself leaving Dearborn for a very long time. I think that this iswhere I belong and where I want to be. I think that you see a change going on,we have now more businesses interested in our city, you have Ford who justannounced that they are going to be spending a big chunk of money right here inour West downtown and to improve they have purchased property, they are goingto bring more employees which is great for us because that means new peopleliving here, spending their money in our shops, in our restaurants.  There is a nice improvement going on.  I think Council is very much in tune with whatthe residents are feeling because we all live here.”

with publisher