Report on Dr. Abdul-el-Sayed Presentation at the Grand Traverse Resort
Monday, April 17, 2017
At 30, Abdul became the youngest health official of a major American city when he was brought home by Mayor Mike Duggan to rebuild Detroit's Health Department after it was privatized during the city's bankruptcy. As Health Director, he was responsible for the health and safety of over 670,000 Detroiters, working tirelessly to ensure government accountability and transparency, promote health, and reduce cross-generational poverty.
Dr. Abdul-el-Sayed began by asking the gathering of about 150 people what concerns they have in the upcoming race for governor in Michigan. Responses covered preserving and improving the ACA, water quality, climate change, gun control, women’s issues, government transparency, gerrymandering, income disparity, jobs, privatization of schools, etc. Dr. Abdul said that he and his staff have been conducting a listening tour of Northern Michigan where he assured us that he has been hearing the same concerns all across the state.
Wanting to share with us his family background, Dr. Abdul said that his grandfather was a produce manager in Egypt. His father immigrated to the Detroit area in 1978 after considering Bayreuth, Germany, as an alternate destination. He chose the US because of the promise, “Out of Many, One.” He felt the US would be the best place where someone like himself would be welcomed. Abdul’s father received a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, but also served as a part-time Imam. His parents divorced shortly after he was born. His father remarried a fellow engineer, Judy, a Presbyterian from Gratiot County whose family had been here since before the American Revolution! His family consisted of Muslims, Presbyterians and confirmed Atheists! This energizing mix fostered his love of diversity and people in general.
Dr. Abdul studied Biology and Political Science which led him into a career in public health. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 2007, where he was honored to deliver the student commencement speech alongside President Bill Clinton. Abdul went on to become a Rhodes Scholar, earning a doctorate from Oxford University and a medical degree from Columbia University. As a public health professor, Abdul became an internationally recognized expert in health policy and health inequalities.
The Detroit crisis led to the shutdown of the Public Health Department which he was then hired to rebuild. Dr. Abdul believes that health challenges manifest in the poverty levels of children. Either they succeed and go to college, or end up going to prison. As head of the Detroit Public Health Department, Dr. Abdul began a program of inspection of schools to detect lead levels in water which has become a program instituted nationwide.
Dr. Abdul feels strongly that we have failed to build a sustainable economy under Republican supply side, business models which are not working. We are told schools must be run like a business, resulting in our schools being turned into for-profit private and charter schools. We are being given a false dichotomy of jobs or the environment. That we can’t have both.
We are being told brown people are coming into our country, taking our jobs, when many jobs are now outsourced overseas, or eliminated due to technology. Trump promised displaced workers he would get their old jobs back. Hillary said, ‘that’s not happening.’ Both ignored focusing on the kinds of jobs that will sustain us going into the 21st century, i.e., jobs that won’t be offshored such as in the healthcare industry, artisan manufacturing of wines, beer and cheeses for example. We need to build infrastructure to support small business development, high speed internet, good roads, and more emphasis on trade, and two year degrees obtained at community colleges.
When asked how he plans to fund his campaign, Dr. Abdul said he plans to run a grass roots campaign asking for donations from ordinary individuals. If he does accept funds from special interests, for example Planned Parenthood, he will only do so if their goals and his are the same stated in a signed letter of intent. He promises he will run the most energized campaign for governor Michigan has ever seen. Considering his age, 32, enthusiasm, qualifications and eloquent delivery of message, I think we can believe him.
GT Dems Communications
& Indivisible TC