Like most students planning to graduate at the end of this term, LSA senior Hatim Elhady is working to finish up his last remaining requirements for his majors in economics and near eastern studies. But unlike most seniors, Elhady isn’t spending his extra time leading student groups, going to the bars or applying for jobs or graduate school.

Instead, he’s running his campaign for City Council.

Elhady hopes to represent Ann Arbor’s 4th Ward, which extends from East Madison Street southward past Ann Arbor-Saline Road and includes South Quad Residence Hall, Fletcher Residence Hall and the Michigan Stadium.

Elhady said he’s running as an Independent because he wants to transcend political party affiliation.

“I feel it represents the ideology of independent solutions and independent thinking I’m going to bring to Fourth Ward,” he said.

The Nov. 3 elections will decide if he can put that ideology into practice. But Elhady is up against tough odds, Eugene Kang, the last student to run for City Council in 2005 was unsuccessful in his bid to represent Ward 2.

Elhady grew up in Detroit, but he said his interest in politics was “born and bred in Ann Arbor.”

“When I came here,” he said, “it was an entirely different world from Detroit. The diversity — cultural, racial — it was like a melting pot, very dimensional compared to Detroit.”

But while he appreciated the diversity of Ann Arbor and the University, Elhady began to focus on other issues impacting the lives of local citizens like the city’s transit system and landlord-tenant issues.

“I had issues like every other student and resident,” he said.

From there, he began considering other issues City Council hasn’t addressed.

Elhady went door to door in the Fourth Ward asking residents about significant concerns they felt council members neglected. For the most part, according to Elhady, they voiced similar concerns.

“It started small and became big to the point where I was like, I need to run for City Council,” he said.

Elhady said he’s hoping to encourage communication between constituents and their City Council representatives, adding that a lack of communication “exacerbates all other issues.”

“I believe in communication, and I’ve put that into action,” he said.

After Elhady decided to run, he began to call council members from other wards for support.

“I picked up the phone, called them and said, ‘I’d like to run for City Council and I want to know your issues and help the city of Ann Arbor. Let’s make a meeting,’” he said.

During one such call, Elhady spoke to Mike Anglin, a Democrat from the Fifth Ward.

Anglin said he was impressed with Elhady’s outreach efforts and knowledge of city-political dynamics. He also appreciated Elhady’s youth.

“I think it’s important to have a multi-generational approach to governance,” Anglin said. “Hatim would bring a focus to City Council that’s not there now.”

To help with his bid, Elhady has reached out to student voters during his campaign. Although he is not allowed to campaign door-to-door in residence halls, University Housing recently approved his stuffing of mailboxes.

In addition, Elhady encouraged students to vote through the Michigan Student Assembly’s Voice Your Vote campaign.

Although Elhady values student support, he emphasized that he won’t serve as “U of M’s man on City Council.”

“My campaign is not built around students, nor is it built around permanent residents,” he said. “It’s built around everyone in the Fourth Ward. We all have issues and deserve a voice.”

If elected, Elhady plans to hold weekly office hours. These hours would not have him confined to an office — instead he would use the time to speak at neighborhood organizations and visit Fourth Ward residents.

Despite his relative inexperience, Elhady is optimistic about his chances.

“It all depends on how hard I work,” he said. “When I go personally door to door, do mailbox stuffings, when I go to each one of my friends and get them registered to vote, I think the outcome will be good.”

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