Dr. Abdul El-Sayed brought his campaign for Governor of Michigan to the Downriver for Revolution group on Sunday, May 7th. He took questions from the group and answered what questions he could in the 90-minute time frame. He spoke of his of his background, education, and experience re-creating the Health Department in Detroit – eliminated by an emergency manager during the bankruptcy. Members and guests were introduced to an articulate, intelligent, young man who has committed his life to public service.
Born and raised in Gratiot County, Michigan, Dr. Sayed studied political science and began his medical education at the University of Michigan, continuing on to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and completing his MD at Columbia University’s College of Physicians & Surgeons
He served as the Executive Director of the Detroit Health Department and Health Officer for the City of Detroit from 2015-2017. At 30 years old, he was the youngest health commissioner appointed in a major US City. Previously, he was Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia University. He is an internationally recognized public health expert, and the author of over 100 scholarly articles, abstracts, and book chapters on public health policy, social epidemiology, and health disparities.
His educational background and work experience make him a somewhat unique figure in the governor’s race, someone with leadership skills in government but without any negative political baggage.
Dr. El-Sayed focused much of his available speaking time on issues that affect most Michiganders; public health, access to clean water, infrastructure investment, public education, environmental issues, and his support for human rights for all of Michigan’s citizens, including LGBTQ, immigrants, and people of color. He didn’t pretend to have answers to all of the problems facing the citizens of the state but promised to use his problem solving skills to find and put into effect positive changes.
Judging from the posts and conversations from the group following the meeting, members were generally quite impressed with Dr. El-Sayed. His poise, his calm demeanor, and speaking skills were much appreciated by those tired of the political double speak far too common in politics today. His unwavering support for reforming Michigan’s broken mental health system was welcomed by several mental health professionals in attendance. “Fixing the broken mental health care system would solve so many other problems,” remarked one.
Overall, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed faced a somewhat skeptical audience. There were questions about his platform, and his viability as a Muslim candidate. He gained some supporters, I believe, with his visit.
The Downriver for Revolution group will be hosting other candidates for governor over the course of the campaign.