DEARBORN, Mich. (WXYZ) — Allegations of a racially insensitive post made by the wife of a top Dearborn official have sparked more controversy after a high-profile vote.
Recently, city council unanimously voted to make Arabic translation available on upcoming voting ballots.
“When you read that message, what goes through your mind?” 7 Action News asked Executive Director of Emgage Michigan Nada Al-Hanooti.
The community leader told us she is furious about a public social media post by the wife of City Clerk George Darany.
“This message is not only irresponsible but is racially charged.” said Al-Hanooti, who advocated for providing Arabic translation along with English on voting ballots.
She told us she was stunned to read part of a post saying: “We do speak American in this country as most immigrants learn.”
Darany refused an on-camera interview but agreed to talk with us by phone.
He told us his wife’s message was posted without his knowledge.
“Think she said we do speak American in this country, which obviously is true. We also speak a lot of other different languages. She printed that. Those are her words, not mine.” Darany said.
This week, counsel passed a proposal making Arabic available on ballots for the upcoming election. That takes into account that the city’s population of about 110,000 includes roughly 47% being Arab American and speaking Arabic at home, according to census data.
Darany now says he’s working to update ballots in time and within a budget.
“We will work as hard as we can to make sure this happens in August,” Darany said.
City Councilman Mustapha Hammoud, who introduced the proposal, also says it is supported by the Michigan Secretary of State to promote more turnout and ensure election integrity. He says it applies to any group that is 5% or more of the population or 10,000 or more people.
“This is going to be a big win for people who have a hard time voting because they don’t physically understand what the ballots say,” Hammoud said.
The city says total cost should be $20,000 or less. The clerk says he’s working with the county to put the measure in place as quickly as possible.