Thursday, June 10, 2010
Sami Hamed has a favorite icebreaker when he's talking about his campaign for the Arizona House of Representatives: He may be blind, but he's got more vision that the current Arizona Legislature.
Hamed has not let being legally blind—he can't drive but he can read his BlackBerry—stop him from becoming a player in local politics. He works as an aide to Congressman Raúl Grijalva and can be frequently found on the campaign trail of Democrats such as City Council members Karin Uhlich and Richard Fimbres.
Hamed says assisting constituents for Congressman Grijalva helped him learn the issues and know what people in the district want.
“Even though I won’t get to do much constituent work as a legislator—I’ll get to do very little of it—I think it’s best prepared me to hear the problems and the views of the people, and if elected I’ll carry that with me up to the state House,” he says.
Hamed is making his first run for public office in a crowded field, but he's got the endorsement of Grijalva, which he hopes will help him stand out. He's also got the blessing of the district’s retiring Representative Phil Lopes.
Though he has not yet filed enough $5 contributions to qualify for Clean Elections funds, he turned in more than twice the minimum signatures necessary to get his name on the ballot.
As a regular bus rider, a member of the Tucson Transit Task Force and the Chairman of the Citizen Transportation Advisory Committee, Hamed wants to improve public transportation around the state, including investing in a train system between Phoenix and Nogales.
To pay for the rail and other increased public transportation, Hamed would like to re-appropriate gas tax funds to support transportation systems other than roads and highways. Hamed would also ask the federal government to pick up part of the tab—as they did in Tucson’s modern streetcar to the tune of $63 million earlier this year.
Besides the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Hamed says he would be well suited to serve the people of LD27 on the Appropriations and Education committees. He's helped balance large budgets as a member of the board of directors at the Arizona State School for the Deaf and Blind and he attended public schools, including the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind, in the district.
LD27 stretches from Ina Road to south of Valencia Road on Tucson’s west side and includes the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind. Most of the voters in LD27 are also within the boundaries of Grijalva's Congressional District 7.