HAMTRAMCK, Mich. (WXYZ) — Michigan voters made history after voting to send the first Indian American to Congress from the state.
Shri Thanedar, who ran for a seat in the U.S. House, beat out his Republican opponent Martell Bivings.
The newly drawn 13th Congressional District that Thanedar will serve includes portions of Detroit, Hamtramck, Highland Park, the Grosse Pointes and several cities Downriver.
People in Hamtramck say seeing Thanedar win has been a point of pride.
“I strongly believe he’s a role model for us. He’s a first generation Indian American who stepped up to take this position and he works hard for this position,” said Muhith Mahmood who calls Hamtramck home.
Mahmood says it’s inspiring to see someone who looks like him will be representing his family in Congress.
“We believe in democracy in America and he’s a well qualified person,” said Mahmood. “We’re really proud of him and very excited.”
Thanedar who most recently served in the State House of Representatives says he believes his business background set him apart from his opponent.
“It’s a big honor also a lot of responsibility. People are hurting with the food pricing being so high, gasoline being so high. We need to create opportunity,” said Thanedar.
“There’s a lot that we need to do in terms of closing the wealth gap, creating economic opportunities that means we need to make higher education cost free. We need to provide skills and skills training so people can get good paying jobs.”
Thanedar says he grew up with seven siblings in poverty. He says he was able to use education to change his circumstances and achieve his American dream.
He says he now wants to help others forge a path to do the same thing.
“I achieved my American dream with hard work and some luck but that American dream is not accessible to many people, especially many people in the black and brown communities and I want to help people achieve their American dream,” said the Congress-elect.
“That means home ownership. That means owning a business. Our children’s lives should be better.”
Thanedar ran on issues like reproductive rights, education and economic empowerment. He says he’s excited to get to work.
“I work hard. Every waking hour I’m thinking about my job. I have not missed a single Michigan House session as a state rep,” said Thanedar. “So when there is a bill that matters you can be sure I’ll be there on the House floor.”
Thanedar will begin his term in D.C. after he’s officially sworn in this January.