The following column is the opinion and analysis of the Arizona Daily Star Editorial Board.
The Arizona Daily Star endorses Sami Hamed in the Ward 1 Democratic Primary. While all four candidates exhibit strengths that would serve the community well, Hamed brings a singular set of skills to a ward in need of new ideas.
Hamed faces Lane Santa Cruz, Rob Elias and Miguel Ortega in the Aug. 27 primary. It is a mail-in election and ballots go out Aug. 2, and the winner could face write-in Republican candidate Sam Nagy in the Nov. 5 general election, if Nagy gets enough primary votes to qualify.
As a lifetime Tucsonan, Hamed has ingrained himself in the community by serving individuals and constituencies through his job, his volunteerism and his participation in local politics.
That will come in handy in a ward that faces many challenges. Although Tucson as a whole has struggled to recover from the great recession, those troubles have been felt acutely in Ward 1. From good-paying jobs, to neighborhood streets, to the encroaching specter of gentrification, challenges abound.
Hamed is ready for the challenge. A graduate of The Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind (where he served on the school system’s statewide board of directors from 2003-2009), Hamed possess the practical skills needed in aiding constituents and solving problems – he has made a career out of it already.
He worked with constituents for Congressman Raúl Grijalva for more than seven years. In his current position as an employment specialist at SAAVI Services for the Blind, Hamed helps individuals develop skills of independence and then assists them in finding employment.
Hamed’s experience helping Tucsonans surmount life and career challenges exemplifies his commitment to public service work and bodes well for a ward clamoring for a representative who prioritizes constituent outreach. Hamed is an expert at helping people meet challenges – an essential skill set on the city council.
Hamed’s personal experience informs his volunteer work, too. He relies on public transportation to get around, and from 2011 to 2016 Hamed served on the city’s transit task force, where he advocated for a more inclusive and efficient public transportation system. He brings an informed and hands-on approach and is a strong advocate for people with disabilities – a perspective that benefits every Tucsonan.
During our candidate forum, Hamed touted his willingness to listen to those different, outside ideas. “The voters have a great voice themselves; they speak really loudly and clearly as it is,” he said. “My job will be to listen and learn from them.”
Although the city council will most likely remain majority democrat, the ability to take in other beliefs and find compromise is a hallmark of a healthy, functioning city leadership.
Nine years ago, fresh out of the University of Arizona and still in his 20s, Hamed made an unsuccessful run for Arizona’s House of Representatives. At the time, he was inexperienced and too green for the job.
Now, Sami Hamed is ready, and polished by his time serving Tucsonans.
The Arizona Daily Star Editorial Board endorses him in the Ward 1 Democratic primary.