By Simon Albaugh – Yemeni American News
Dearborn, Mich. – In the current midterm campaigns, seats for the Wayne County Commission are up for election. In District 13, Ann Clark, Mohammad Mubarak, Abdullatif Al-Jahmi and Sam Baydoun are all vying for one seat that’s been held by Baydoun since 2018.
The Wayne County Commission, Baydoun explains, is like the city council of Wayne County. With County Executive Warren C. Evans acting as Mayor of the county, the commissioners are asked to vote on initiatives for directing funds throughout Wayne County.
“Honestly, not too many people knew the role of the Wayne County Commissioners until we hit the pandemic and we started talking about reporting the cases on a daily basis,” Baydoun said. “But our role is to promote our communities and work with the local governments to make sure that we have the resources they need.”
Baydoun, who’s served as County Commissioner for Dearborn and Allen Park for the past four years, sat down with the Yemeni American News to talk about what he sees as the most pressing issues for Wayne County and, more specifically, his home District 13.
In the interview, Baydoun talked about the progress and proceeding needs for infrastructure in Dearborn. A major focus for many residents has been the condition of the aging roads, especially Miller Road and Miller Bridge.
“When I was first elected in 2018, Miller Road and the Miller Bridge were somewhere on the bottom of the priority list,” Baydoun said. “So I kept bringing it up. I carried this banner of Miller Road and Miller Bridge. Finally, they elevated it to the top of the list. Now we have Miller Road being completely redone as we speak. And the Miller Bridge will be under construction starting next year.”
Fixing and maintaining roads is at the root of the Wayne County Commission’s purpose. Wayne County oversees over 1,400 miles of roads throughout the county, along with 460 miles of Michigan Department of Transportation roads that the County Commission also maintains. These are kept up through requesting funds from the state.
“Our goal is to bring as much money as we can to Wayne County to keep up the infrastructure,” Baydoun said.
However, coming out of a global pandemic means that the role of County Commissioners is shifting back from what was a different purpose. Throughout the pandemic, Baydoun says that he and others needed to fulfill the unprecedented needs of the county throughout the various COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns.
Baydoun was part of a group of leaders who helped to publicize opportunities throughout the pandemic. Grants, loans and stimulus opportunities were all publicized throughout the lockdowns in Dearborn. But even before that, Baydoun says he was doing everything he could.
“I saw a vacuum of leadership, if you will, when the pandemic started,” Baydoun said. “So I hit the ground running and I started informing the residents in the City of Dearborn and Allen Park about COVID and about how to keep friends and family safe. We also did testing sites in Dearborn and vaccine sites.
“…I hope we never go through this in our lifetime again. But I did put out a lot of information during the pandemic in Arabic and in English, because we have a large concentration of Arab Americans in Dearborn.”
To make matters more difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic, what was considered a 100-year storm broke down the sewer system in the Southend of Dearborn last year, allowing sewer water to damage homes and property in the lower portions of Dearborn.
The 100-year storms are becoming much more common due to what a vast majority of scientists claim is human-caused climate change. Meaning that permanent solutions to more severe weather patterns need to be brought to practice.
“Another challenge is going to be the stormwater issue,” Baydoun said. “I also serve on a tri-county summit for water infrastructure. We’re looking into possibilities for how we can remedy things like last year when we had major flooding here in Dearborn… We need to address the stormwater issue in the City of Dearborn and throughout Wayne County.”
These challenges show some difficult experience for a second-term commissioner. Throughout his work of representing the 13th District in Wayne County Government, he’s also been a vocal advocate for Arab Americans, even spearheading resolutions celebrating Arab American Heritage, along with his infrastructure initiatives.
Baydoun first ran for County Commission in 2018, with news outlets celebrating their endorsement for him. However, it’s up to voters to decide whether to keep Baydoun in his seat or get fresh leadership for Dearborn and Allen Park in Wayne County’s governmental operations.
The midterm primary elections will decide whether Sam Baydoun continues representing Wayne County’s 13th District, or whether that commissioner will be someone new. Ann Clark, Mohammad Mubarak and Abdullatif Al-Jahmi are all vying for the seat currently held by Baydoun.
You can watch the Yemeni American News’ Interview with Sam Baydoun here.