A special general election on May 3 will decide who sits in the State House seat vacated by Dearborn Mayor and former State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud through the end of the year.
The race for the 15th House District pits Democrat Jeff Pepper and Republican Ginger Shearer, formerly known as Virginia Polk.
Pepper won the special Democratic primary election in March over Alabas Farhat — 3,590 to 2,778 votes — riding on a wave of absentee voting in western precincts of Dearborn.
Shearer received 1,201 votes in that election.
The 15th District covers most of Dearborn, except for three northeastern precincts.
Shortly after that primary, Farhat threw his support and endorsement behind Pepper. Pepper also won the endorsement of Wayne County Commissioner Sam Baydoun.
After that election, Pepper told The Arab American News that he had received support from local officials in the heavily Democratic-leaning district and beyond.
He noted that Dearborn’s budget would be grabbing residents’ attention over the next few months and that Mayor Hammoud had asked to sit down after the May election in earnest and “figure out what I can do for the district and has offered help in that process.”
Infrastructure funds are a big ticket item for the district, which continues to see deteriorating roads and bridges, and worsening sewage and flooding problems, funds that a state representative can help direct to needed areas. Combined with those are the persistent environmental issues facing the south and eastern parts of the city in particular.
Republicans currently hold a majority in the Michigan Legislature. State representatives collect around $70,000 in yearly salaries.
The area that the 15th House District covers is now slated to fall under entirely new district maps, finalized by the bipartisan Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) in late December.
The election for the new districts begin with a primary in August and will see a slate of Arab American candidates running for State House, State Senate and county level seats. November’s election will decide who goes to Lansing for a two-year term.
The new maps will mean three districts will cover the Dearborn area, west, central and east. Those districts will envelop surrounding, non-Dearborn and non-Arab American neighborhoods. Those maps, and Michigan Senate and Michigan Congressional maps, can be viewed at michigan.gov/micrc/mapping-process/final-maps
Farhat is running for the Third State House District, as is Shearer. That district covers central and eastern precincts in Dearborn. Although there were some indications that Pepper had an interest in running again as state representative for one of the newly formed districts, he did not file before the deadline.
Look out for candidate interviews for the May 3 special election in The Arab American News next week.