A crowd of 50 gathered in the Bloomfield Township Public Library to hear from gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed and Haley Stevens, the Democratic candidate for Congress in the 11th Congressional District.
Hosted by the Birmingham-Bloomfield Democratic Club on Monday night, the speakers spent the meeting introducing themselves and their campaign before taking questions from the audience.
Stevens is an Oakland County local who served in the previous Obama administration. She was the chief of staff on the Auto Task Force for the U.S. Treasury Department — this team was delegated the task to work on the auto industry in Detroit. She also created the first online training program for digital manufacturing.
“This is a moment for all of us,” she said, stating elected officials were not steering the country in the direction everyone was comfortable with. “Because there is something happening in Washington that is disconnected from the rest of us.”
Stevens was asked on her positions on certain issues and her plans to work with the opposition party. Along with supporting Medicaid and recognizing the gerrymandering faults in Michigan, she said it was imperative that Michigan had younger representatives in Congress that could work with Republicans.
She further explained the average age of a Michigan representative was in their 60s and they needed fresh, new voices.
After Stevens, El-Sayed, who began canvassing in Ann Arbor on Sunday, began explaining his background the audience — beginning with his parents back in Egypt coming to the United States and feeling like they belonged in this country.
He then explained the crux of his interest, which is the politics of health. He explained most sickness and life expectancy comes from the politics side rather than the biological side; it is politics that affect the differences of health care coverage and sickness between Detroit and Bloomfield Hills.
He emphasized Detroit had plenty of hospitals; public health was preventing care, and hospitals were too meddled in bureaucracy.
Despite his young age, El-Sayed said he would be a fit for governor with his expertise in public health, following Michigan’s handling of the Flint water crisis.
El-Sayed then answered questions as well.
An audience member commended El-Sayed for being a Muslim man running during “Trump’s era.” While El-Sayed thanked her, he reminded the audience Trump won by a small margin and “this country is still our country.”
Over half of the audience were newcomers to the Democratic Club, ignited by the current Trump presidency.
Audience members, such as Bloomfield Hills residents Deborah Bernstein-Seagal and Brian Kott, were more familiar with Haley Stevens and came to hear her talk.
“My son went to high school (Seaholm) with her,” Bernstein-Seagal said.
“We were recently reintroduced to her as a potential candidate, and we think it is important to elect Democrats in the current environment,” Kott said.
El-Sayed was a new face to many as well, who heard him for the first time that night.
Kott said while he was impressed by El-Sayed, his unfamiliarity to some Michigan residents may leave him at an disadvantage with the other, well-known Democrat gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer.
“I would was also introduced to Dr. El-Sayed,” he said. “A very impressive man … And I think his problem is name recognition and the fact that Gretchen Whitmer is known fixture and a minority leader of the House and all of those other things. He’s certainly qualified and deserves to have a voice in our current society.”