Nearly 50 years since Hubbard, Dearborn elects its first Arab-American mayor

Hammoud to become city’s 7th mayor

Dearborn has elected its first Arab-American mayor.

The city with the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the country has elected its first Arab-American mayor, the 7th mayor in the city’s history.

Abdullah Hammoud, a former state representative, was elected to the mayor’s office in the city’s general election on Tuesday night, winning by a slim margin, becoming the city’s first Arab-American mayor.

Hammoud previously served as Dearborn’s representative in the Michigan House of Representatives since 2017. He graduated from the University of Michigan with master’s degrees in public health and business administration, and a bachelor of science.

Candidate

Votes

%

Abdullah Hammoud
13,04055%
Gary Woronchak
10,79645%
100% of Precincts Reporting

(48 / 48)

Current Mayor John O’Reilly did not run for re-election as he deals with health issues. He has held the mayoral office since 2007.

Dearborn, the 7th biggest city in Michigan, is home to the largest Muslim population in the U.S., per capita. The population is heavily diverse, even among the Arab Americans who call Dearborn home.

The true Arab American population of Dearborn, or the U.S., is not known because the U.S. Census classifies Arabs as “white,” so estimates are likely dramatically lower than actual population. Organizations, like ACCESS, have been working for years to add a “Middle East/North Africa” option to the Census to better establish how many Arabs are in the U.S.

Arab immigrants came to the area in the early-to-mid 20th century, attracted by the chance to work in the auto industry in the home city of Henry Ford. There are also populations of Irish, Germans, Italians and Polish communities in Dearborn for the same reason.

From 1942 to 1978, Dearborn’s mayor Orville L. Hubbard was in office, elected 15 times. Hubbard was a self-proclaimed “segregationist” who consistently fought to try and keep African Americans from moving into the city, opposing low-income housing projects, often using racial slurs in interviews with local media.

Hubbard was put on trial for conspiracy to violate human rights after an alleged incident involving mob vandalism to a home of a man who was rumored to have sold a house to a Black family. He was acquitted of charges.

Hubbard would often use racial stereotypes and slurs to describe Jewish people, Arabs and Irish people in the city. He died in 1982 after suffering from multiple strokes. A statue of Hubbard was removed in Dearborn back in 2020.


About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital special projects manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013.