71-Year-Old Indo-American Running For Mayor In Michigan

DETROIT – A 71-year-old Indo-American is attempting to become the first Mayor from the community in the US state of Michigan, and has forged a coalition of various ethnic and religious groups to help Democrats take control of a Republican township in the suburb of this city.

Dr Syed Taj is the brother of Indian politician Syed Shahabuddin from Ranchi.

Taj, who unsuccessfully ran for the US House of Representative four years ago, now says that the township government of Canton – a suburb of Detroit that he lives in – needs to reflect diversity of its resident and it is time that Democrats take control of its future.

If elected in the November 8 general elections, Taj would be the first Indian-American Mayor in Michigan. He is running for the post of Canton Supervisor, similar to the position of a mayor.

“We are running on the platform of diversity, transparency and accountability,” Taj told PTI during one of his campaign trails in the town which has a population of about 100,000 including more than 7,000 Indian-Americans.

Encouraging younger Indian-Americans to join the political mainstream, Taj said it took him about six months’ time working with the Democratic party to prepare a diversity coalition panel of seven top seats in the Canton township.

Besides him, the panel includes one more Indian-American Dhaval Vaishnav who is the president of the Temple of Canton.

“If we (immigrants) stick together, we can make the difference,” he said, adding that it becomes more important at a time when Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, 70, has polarised the elections with his rhetoric and anti- immigrant statements.

“Donald Trump wants to make America Great Again which means make America White Again. This is no longer possible. The US is a country of immigrants. And he should realise that,” he said.

Taj, who comes from a well-known Muslim family in Bihar, was born and brought up in Gaya. After completing schooling from Bihar, he went to Ranchi at St Xavier. He earned his medical degrees from Patna Medical College in 1968.

In 1982, he and his wife Sofia moved to Southeast Michigan to pursue the American dream and be close to relatives as they began to start a family of their own but not before spending several years in the UK.

Taj said he decided to contest for elected offices in 2005 when he was constructing his house and while making the rounds of the township seeking various licenses and permits, he felt that he was not welcome. The community also faced similar problems when they were constructing a temple.

“It is important that we immigrants assimilate in the society and be a part of the political process,” he added.

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