DEARBORN — U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) has officially announced she will be running for the newly drawn 12th Congressional District covering Dearborn, Dearborn Heights and surrounding cities, and Southfield, in this year’s election.
This mean the neighboring 13th Congressional District, covering Detroit, Hamtramck and Downriver cities like Melvindale and Allen Park, is now up for grabs.
The news comes as U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) announced her retirement from Congress on Tuesday evening, after 30 years of elected public service.
The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) finalized the state’s new political maps last week. They will determine Congressional and State House and Senate seats for the November 2022 elections and will be the state’s district makeup for the next 10 years.
Lawrence’s current district includes Southfield, Hamtramck, parts of Detroit and northern cities like Pontiac, Farmington Hills and others.
The newly drawn 13th District contains large swaths of Detroit, Hamtramck and southern Wayne County cities, as well as eastern communities like Grosse Pointe.
“As expected, communities in the current 13th Congressional District were unfortunately split up between the new 12th and 13th Congressional Districts.” Tlaib said in a press release. “After much deliberation with my family, residents and my team, I am excited to announce that I will be running for re-election in what will now be Michigan’s 12th Congressional District. The new 12th Congressional District contains nearly two-thirds of the people I currently serve. I’m excited to continue to fight for our residents and engage with new neighbors in Wayne and Oakland Counties.
“To the residents of the current 13th Congressional District who have reached out to me since the maps were announced, please know that no matter if you’re in the new 12th or 13th, our work together will continue. I am excited about the opportunity to expand our work to include more communities that want the same access to a better quality of life, including clean air and water, affordable housing, economic justice and more. Our work is only going to gain momentum and become stronger every day.”
The Arab American News learned of Tlaib’s decision from a source Tuesday night, but she was expected to make an official announcement about her bid for one of the newly drawn districts soon after Lawrence announced her decision to retire.
If she wins in this year’s election, Tlaib, a Palestinian American, will represent Arab American enclaves of Dearborn, Dearborn Heights and surrounding areas, including parts of Detroit, in Washington D.C.
“Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence has led a historic and impactful life in public service,” Tlaib said. “From the Southfield School Board, to being the first woman and Black woman to become the mayor of Southfield and now serving as a member of Congress, she has helped to provide transformative change. As a Detroiter, a Michigander and a woman of color in politics, I send my deep gratitude to Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence for her partnership and support. It has been an honor to represent the city of Detroit with her.
As a Detroiter, a Michigander and a woman of color in politics, I send my deep gratitude to Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence for her partnership and support. It has been an honor to represent the city of Detroit with her. — U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit)
Lawrence announced her retirement in a video message on Tuesday night.
“As we have a new redistricting map, a new generation of leaders will step up,” she said. “We need to make sure our elected officials, in Michigan and across this country, look like our communities.
“It is not lost on me that I’m currently the only Black member of the Michigan Congressional Delegation—in both the U.S. House and Senate. So, whether it’s in the halls of Congress, City Halls or local school boards, representation matters.”
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), who announced last week that she will be not be running for the Dearborn area Congressional seat, released a statement on Lawrence’s retirement. Dingell has decided to run for the newly drawn Sixth District, containing western Wayne County cities like Canton and Novi and all of Washtenaw County.
“Brenda’s commitment to her communities is second to none,” Dingell said. “Throughout her 30 years in public service, she supported Michigan students while serving on the Southfield Public Schools Board of Education, gathered communities together as mayor of Southfield and tied her work together as a representative fighting for American jobs and child care, among many other important issues, in Michigan’s 14th District. I’m thankful to have worked with Brenda on behalf of Michiganders and I know she’ll bring her passion and commitment to wherever her journey takes her next.”
Redistricting a central issue
The redistricting process, though citizen-led and with a particular focus on equal representation of community interests, is facing a major legal challenge from African American state lawmakers and will likely see more in the coming days.
The lawsuit alleges that the new maps eliminate majority Black Congressional and state Senate districts that currently run through Detroit and reduce the number of Detroit majority Black districts in the new state House map, in violation of federal laws protecting minority representation in elections.
But the approved maps do offer cohesiveness for the Arab American communities in Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Hamtramck and surrounding areas. This is especially true for the Congressional district Tlaib will be campaigning for.
That cohesiveness comes from direct efforts by the community to present maps to the Commission over its research and deliberation period last year that show where the Arab American concentrations exist. The Commission had to proceed under certain criteria to make maps, the top of which was to have equal populations and included the “communities of interest” criteria, which asked the Commission to keep communities sharing ethnicity or economic and social interest intact.
Though Arab Americans are officially counted as White in the census, local leaders consulted real estate professionals to create some maps that indicated Arab American neighborhoods, maps they submitted to the Commission. The result was Congressional and State House and Senate maps that keep those neighborhoods intact in the new districts, for the most part, offering the potential for new candidates from the community to run for those seats, and for the Arab American population to assert its needs on the state and federal level.
The new approved maps can be viewed on the MICRC website at Michigan.gov/MICRC