Kalamazoo County Commissioner Nasim Ansari Wins Fifth Term

Muslim Matters

Kalamazoo County Commissioner Nasim Ansari Wins Fifth Term

Press Release, adapted by TMO

Republican Nasim Ansari a four term County Commissioner wins again in 2010 election crushing his challenger Democrat Chuck Vliek, son of former Pro-Temp Mayor and County Commissioner Ted Vliek by 59 percent votes.

Nasim H. Ansari spent his formative years in Sukkur where he attended primary and secondary school at St. Mary’s High School. His choice of higher education led him to obtaining a Master’s degree (Chemistry) and Diploma in Public Administration – both from Sindh University.

Several years after both degrees were obtained in 1977 Ansari migrated to the United States where he and his wife Rashida then built their family of four children. He pursued and obtained another Master’s degree – this time in Business Administration – from his now hometown, Kalamazoo, Michigan at Western Michigan University.

He says of his career, “Each stage in my career has been a learning process as I climbed up the ladder there were always moments when I had to climb back down a few steps.” He humbly cites this as part of the cycle of life as a husband, father, citizen and friend to so many. He attributes his success to his faith in God and his parents’ undying support, particularly his step-mother Qamar Jahan who has eternally emblazoned a vision of unconditional confidence in her son.

Soon after he was handed his degree from WMU, he joined pharmaceutical companies and regional industry leaders in the capacity of management. Eventually, he settled in a career with the City of Kalamazoo, lending his expertise for many years. Ansari also began a long-standing teaching career as an adjunct professor at various institutions. Through the years, he actively pursued personal artistic endeavors in the arts, particularly music and poetry.

His appetite for community involvement finally led him to his participation in local politics, where he ran and won elections for Portage City Councilman and subsequently Kalamazoo Country Commissioner, in every election year from 1999 to 2010. Marking continued success in a predominantly white (90%), Dutch locale with an Asian community of less than 1%, Ansari has transcended cultural barriers, formerly thought to have been hindrances in political aspirations for such a man. When asked about his success on this front, Ansari candidly replies, “For me, it never was a matter of black or white, Asian or non [Asian], it was simply a matter of community; my community.”

His very first campaign slogan cleverly used his name, “Don’t Be Sorry – Vote Ansari” and it quickly caught on. In the years following and till present, his election committee slated the phrase “People’s Voice, People’s Choice” before most other minorities had run for such elections, he often second-guessed himself but carried on. “The insecurities of whether a short, dark and unknown face would be able to win an election in a society where there very clear-cut expectations of what a politician should represent, were quickly dispelled when I came across my first supporter. The rest is history.”
Now, with so many years within the regional political circuit, he has developed an excellent rapport with the community by participating in political, social and technical activities at state and local levels. Though he has been equated as a cross-party candidate because of his adherence to the issues at hand, rather than party-specific views, he serves on the Executive Board of the Kalamazoo County Republican Party. Having been given such honors as leading the pledge of allegiance at a gathering of 5000 people while the President of United States visited Kalamazoo, he has become a celebrity in his own right. In a post-9/11 editorial of a widely-circulated newspaper in Michigan, it was written, among other positive references, “Nasim Ansari has worked hard to build bridges between Muslims and non-Muslims in Kalamazoo County.”

He’s often asked how he manages to transcend the seeming disparities faced by Muslims these days – to which his reply is always the same: “I try to emphasize on commonalities amongst us rather than dwelling on differences.” After all, his repeated wins are proof-positive and testament to the fact that it is not a matter of being Muslim or from Pakistan, rather the actions of a few “bad apples” within both that eradicate the true message of Islam.

In light of recent confusion about Muslims in general, Ansari issued this statement:

“Unfortunately, we live in a society which is driven by images and portrayals presented by the media. What gives me hope is the growing number of people standing up for what is right. True Americans know that we are all out there for the greater good of humanity and a handful of criminals certainly will not taint our belief in this beautiful nation that is America. We have to rise above prejudices and hatred and concentrate only on our mission in life which is to give back to all people for what is good – leaving something for our future generations to cherish.”

Ansari encourages Pakistanis living abroad to focus on the positives, work hard, persevere and take active part in mainstream politics and community. He urges, “Voting and running for office is a must if we want to make a positive contribution to our society.” He explains that the way into people’s hearts is by volunteering to help the community’s senior citizens, physically challenged, and students. Be a role model – and a positive one, by example. He has often used his now famous quote, “Educate, to dispel the hate.”


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