Texas city may elect Palestinian mayor
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Texas city may elect Palestinian mayor

With a population over 100,000, Richardson would be one of the largest cities in the US to vote in a Muslim leader

Renee Ghert-Zand is a reporter and feature writer for The Times of Israel.

Amir Omar is believed to be the first Muslim-American elected to public office in his area of Texas. (YouTube screenshot)
Amir Omar is believed to be the first Muslim-American elected to public office in his area of Texas. (YouTube screenshot)

An affluent suburb of Dallas, home to many of the area’s Jews, may become the first sizable American city to elect a mayor of Palestinian descent.

Richardson, a city of 100,000 in north Texas, will decide May 11 whether to elect Amir Omar, a former city councilman believed to be the first Muslim-American elected to public office in the area. Should his campaign succeed, it appears Omar would be the first American of Palestinian background to serve as mayor of such a sizable US city.

A conservative Republican in his late 30s, Omar refers to himself on his campaign website as “living proof that the American Dream is alive and well.”

Born in Wisconsin and raised in Texas, Omar has worked primarily in telecommunications, and holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University.

His mother was born to an upper-middle-class family in Iran, and his father comes from a family of Palestinian farmers. They met while attending college in Arizona.

Their son, first elected to Richardson’s city council in 2009, previously ran unsuccessfully for the US House of Representatives in 2006 — a campaign that would have made him the first Iranian-American in Congress.

His work in local politics has been more popular with voters; he was re-elected in 2011 with 63 percent of the vote.

With a mayoral platform focused on families and small businesses, Omar’s current political bid has so far drawn 69 endorsements from organizations and individuals. His political positions, like his campaign, appear to be locally minded, without statements on foreign policy or the Middle East, although his Twitter feed notes that he recently took his daughter to a University of Texas lecture on the Holocaust.

“Just as I have done on the City Council, as your Mayor I will be a hands-on leader with a passion for Richardson,” his website declares.

Should he win, Omar would join a handful of Muslim-American and Arab-American mayors currently in office in the US, including Mohammed Hameeduddin of Teaneck, NJ; Mohamed Khairullah of Prospect Park, NJ; Sam Abed of Escondido, Calif.; and Arjumand Hashmi of Paris, Texas.

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