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Michigan Representative District 53

Choose one candidate. Representatives in the Michigan State House serve two-year terms and receive an annual salary of $71,685.

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  • Samuel Bissell
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Yousef Rabhi
    (Dem)

  • Joseph Stevens
    (Grn)

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Biographical Information

How should the state assist other municipalities and school districts whose solvency is threatened by its financial obligations to current and future retirees?

Is the way the state funds our cities adequate to ensure safety and service delivery? If not, what changes would you support to our municipal finance model?

When cities are struggling, what is the appropriate way for the state to intervene? Should state intervention – through the emergency manager law or some other avenue – come with dollars attached? Why or why not?

How would you rate the state’s response to the Flint water crisis?

Explain your answer and what you would do, if anything, to improve the state’s response.

How would you rate the federal government’s response to the Flint water crisis?

Explain your answer and what you would do, if anything, to improve the federal government’s response.

Have you ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor? If so, explain.

Have you ever filed for personal bankruptcy? If so, explain.

Do you believe Michigan’s tax system is generally fair? If not, what changes do you support?

Would you support the establishment of a Detroit Educational Commission that would have authority to site, open and close traditional public and charter schools?

What changes, if any, would you support in the way Michigan authorizes and regulates charter schools?

Do you favor amending the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity?

Do you support state-level laws modeled on the federal Restoration of Religious Freedom Act?

Have you signed any public pledge to support or oppose any organization’s public policy objectives, such as outlawing abortion or barring any increase in taxes?

Do you support legislation to minimize or eliminate the influence of political parties on drawing lines for legislative districts?

Do you support decriminalization of recreational marijuana?

Do you support and will you appear at campaign events with your party’s presidential nominee?

Do you support the renewal and/or expansion of renewable energy mandates for Michigan energy producers?

Do we incarcerate too many people in Michigan? What would you change in the criminal justice system?

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City of residence Ann Arbor
Age 28
Family My mother Peggy Rabhi and my father Lounes Rabhi both live in Ann Arbor's first ward in the neighborhood that I grew up in! I have one brother who currently works at Weber's Inn. My aunt who is a teacher at Lincoln Schools and my cousin who works at Underground Printing both live in Ann Arbor's third ward. My girlfriend Lizzie Nash is a math teacher in Hartland, Michigan and coaches their High School Varsity Cheer team!
Education Huron High School, 2006; University of Michigan, Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science, 2010; Harvard Kennedy School Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government, 2014
Vehicles owned 2014 Chevrolet Malibu (Assembled at the Detroit Hamtramck Assembly Plant)
Professional Experience Volunteer Coordinator, University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, 2014-present; Washtenaw County Commissioner, 2011-present; Outreach Assistant, City of Ann Arbor, Natural Area Preservation, 2012-2014
Political Experience Ann Arbor Democratic Party Board Member, 2008-2010; Washtenaw County Commissioner, 2011 to present (Chair of Working Session, 2011 to 2012; Chair of the Board of Commissioners, 2013 to 2014; Vice-Chair of the Board of Commissioners, 2015 to present)
Race/ethnicity I am American and was born and raised in Michigan. I identify as North African American since my father and my name are from Algeria. I also take great pride in my mother's Italian and Swedish heritage.
Campaign Website http://www.voterabhi.com
Incumbent? false
As a local elected official, I have seen the disastrous impacts of the state's disinvestment in our local governments. The state has a responsibility to fully fund revenue sharing. We must also work to expand the revenue options available to local government instead of forcing local governments to rely solely on property taxes. The state should also provide a tool kit of best practices and provide training in balancing budgets and understanding long-term liabilities for local leaders. During my tenure as Chair of the Board, the County was able to secure a 4-year balanced budget, 10-year labor agreements, and began to address its long-term liabilities which led the county to a AAA Bond rating
No. One of the reasons many municipalities are struggling is the diversion of billions in revenue sharing funds since 2001. Those funds could have gone to core municipal services like roads, water infrastructure, and public safety. Instead, the money went to fill holes in the state budget left by corporate tax cuts. Municipalities have also been hit by the effects of Headlee and the elimination of the Personal Property Tax. Michigan needs to fully restore revenue sharing and provide local governments a range of revenue tools to reduce reliance on property taxes.
Our emergency manager system is flawed. EMs have contributed to the public health disaster in Flint and have mired the Detroit Public Schools deeper in debt. Local democracy is not optional, even in an emergency. EMs should not have the unilateral authority to break contracts, sell major assets, or dissolve municipalities. Part of the problem is that troubled municipalities are expected to cut their way to prosperity, without many options to address the revenue side of the equation. Fully funding revenue sharing would help keep municipalities out of trouble in the first place. We also need to give local government more tools for raising revenue.
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State government caused the crisis in the first place. EMs and DEQ officials dismissed citizen concerns, misinterpreted federal water safety rules, and failed to notify residents that their water was poisoned. DCH/DHHS failed to notice rising blood lead levels in children and did not act to stem the Legionnaires’ epidemic. Nine months after the crisis became common knowledge, people in Flint are still relying on bottled water, and almost no lead service lines have been replaced. In order to prevent similar crises in the future, we need to reform our EM law, rededicate state agencies to protecting public health, and systematically replace lead service lines across the state.
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After the lead crisis in Washington, DC ten years ago, the EPA should have taken more steps to ensure that water testing across the country was not being conducted in a deceptive manner. Once notified, the EPA should have acted more quickly to alert Flint residents of lead in their water and to ensure corrosion control was implemented. However, MDEQ has primacy over drinking water safety in Michigan. While the EPA should have intervened sooner once the crisis started, it was MDEQ and Michigan emergency managers who bear ultimate responsibility and failed to adequately respond to the crisis with Flint's water.
As a freshman in college, I was arrested as part of a sit-in protesting the use of sweatshops in the production of University of Michigan apparel. 11 others and myself were arrested for standing up for workers across the globe subjected to deplorable working conditions. More information here: https://www.michigandaily.com/content/12-students-arrested-fleming
No.
No. This year, corporations will get $99 million more in tax credits than they pay in taxes. Instead of contributing the nearly $2 billion they used to pay, corporations will be subsidized by taxpayers. Meanwhile, our roads and schools are crumbling and taxpaying Michiganders are being asked to pay even more to make up the difference. We should require corporations to pay their fair share to support the infrastructure, public education, and services that make their profits possible. We should implement a graduated income tax, repeal the pension tax, and fully restore the Earned Income Tax Credit.
The state has run DPS in various forms for the last 14 years and has added insult to injury plunging the district further into debt than when it was under local control. Fundamentally, I do not believe that the future of Detroit's schools can be dictated from Lansing, but rather Detroiters should decide their own fate. Detroit's School Board, their city, county and state elected officials, along with the community should decide their own future since they are actually accountable to the people they serve and will need to live with the outcome.
Public funds should not be diverted to for-profit charter schools. Charters are not accountable to the community in the same way as traditional public schools, and they do not serve all students equally. Public schools are democratically controlled by the community and are accountable to the kids and families they serve. I believe this is a fundamentally better education system.
Yes. It is long past time we live up to a higher standard of fairness and equity by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity in housing, public accommodations, and employment.
No. Religious freedom is amply protected by the 1st Amendment. The RFRA legislation proposed in the Michigan Legislature is a thinly veiled attempt to gut civil rights protections.
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Yes. Democracy works on the principle that elections accurately reflect the will of the voters. The voters pick their elected officials; elected officials should not be able to pick their voters. Partisan gerrymandering is antidemocratic. We should institute an independent nonpartisan redistricting process.
Yes. Marijuana prohibition has failed just as alcohol prohibition did. Prohibition promotes crime and enriches gangs, while doing little to prevent people from using marijuana. We should re-direct our resources from prohibition and punishment to education and drug treatment.
I will support the Democratic nominee. If asked to attend campaign events, I would.
Yes. Michigan utilities easily met the 10% Renewable Portfolio Standard before it expired in 2015. We should build on that success by setting a new Renewable Portfolio Standard of 25% by 2025. We should also establish fair net metering rules for homeowners and businesses who produce renewable energy. Encouraging the growth of clean, renewable energy will make our state healthier, empower people to become energy producers, and keep more of our energy dollars here to create jobs in our own state.
Yes. Michigan spends more on prisons than on schools, in part because we keep people in prison longer than any other state. I support the presumptive parole bill passed by the Michigan House, as a way to reduce prison populations while protecting public safety. We should also provide more re-entry support for prisoners returning to the community, to keep them from ending up back in prison. Most of all, we should invest in early childhood education. An ongoing study started in 1962 in Ypsilanti demonstrates that quality preschool significantly reduces the likelihood that kids will be arrested or go to prison later in life.
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