Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Interview with Dr. Esam Omeish - Part I: The Candidate

Dr. Esam Omeish, a Muslim and resident of Fairfax County, is seeking the office of Representative in the Virginia House of Delegates for the 35th District.
Recently, he agreed to an interview with examiner.com to discuss his campaign. In Part I of this interview, Dr. Omeish tells us about himself. In Part II, he will discuss his politics.

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I have lived in Fairfax for 26 years. I was born in Tripoli, Libya, in 1967. My father was a World Bank Executive, and we moved to the United States in 1982, and moved to Fairfax County, Virginia, where I attended J.E.B. Stuart High School. I did not speak any English at the time, but thanks to a few wonderful teachers who believed in me I was able to graduate top of my class, and attend Georgetown University, where I stayed through earning my Medical Doctorate.

2. What experience do you have that qualifies you to run for this office?

Healthcare is an issue that is critically important to me. I have served through many organizations to provide care to those who are uninsured, and underinsured. By addressing the issue of healthcare I see the opportunity to help people in the most fundamental way possible. Addressing healthcare will also create a better environment for businesses, and a stronger Virginia.

I value education highly. I have four children going through our local public schools, and a big concern to me is ensuring that those schools are the best they can be. If I had not had the opportunity to go to good schools with good teachers who made the extra effort to help me, as a student who did not speak English, I don’t know where I would be today. We must maintain the best schools, to keep our local economies strong, and to also give our children the edge in today’s economy.

One needs to only drive around Fairfax to understand that we have serious transportation issues. I strongly support getting the Metro to Tyson’s and Dulles built on time and under budget.

3. You are an extremely successful surgeon, elected the Chief of General Surgery in INOVA Alexandria Hospital in 2006. A year later you were named "Outstanding Physician of the Year" by its Medical Executive Committee. Why would you want to give up that career for politics?

I will not be giving up my medical practice. Delegate is a part time position, and not one Delegate in the Virginia General Assembly has given up their profession to serve as Delegate. I would be doing my patients a great disservice by abandoning my practice, and I have no intention of doing so.

That said, I am inspired to help people. As one doctor, I can provide X number of surgeries and X number consultations to those in need. As a Delegate I can use the experience I have as a doctor who is actively involved in helping people to pass legislation that will help hundreds of thousands of more people than I could ever do alone. Although I will not have as much time to devote to my practice, I am comfortable with the fact that as Delegate I can have the reach to help so many more people than I could ever do alone.

4. Do you think being Muslim hurts or helps you in this election?

Both. Clearly, our community faces many obstacles to being involved in government. There remain many stereotypes about Muslims. Part of why I am running is that I want to dispel the misconceptions many people have about out community. This is an obstacle other candidates in this race do not face, and so we are challenged to work extra hard, and to make every effort we can to be clear that I am an American who loves his country.

An advantage of being a Muslim is the fact that our community is comprised of many wonderful people, who have stepped up to the challenge of helping our campaign do what it takes to win this election. I believe that it is critical that our community works together to overcome some of the negative stereotypes associated with being Muslim, and demonstrate through their actions everything that our community has to offer the larger society.

5. What Islamic values will help you in this campaign?

I derive strength from my faith. A cornerstone of Islam is being engaged to make your society better. I believe in leading by example. I think our community must take a greater role in government and politics so that we can share our values with others, the same way other communities that are more engaged do with us. A different perspective, and a different understanding, will strengthen our democracy and strengthen our society.

6. Anything else you would like to tell us about yourself?

I’m a huge Skins fan.

Author: J. Samia Mair

J. Samia Mair is an Examiner from Baltimore. You can see J. Samia's articles on J. Samia's Home Page.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Is there a Doctor in the House?

           During these hard times, many Americans have realized just how critical solving our nation's health care crisis has become.  Closer to home, thousands of Virginians and their families have lost their employer - provided health care and are living on the bubble, hoping a medical disaster does not strike their household.

Currently, we have no Democrat doctors in Virginia's House of Delegates. As the Chief of General Surgery at INOVA Alexandria Hospital, I have the expertise and perspective Virginia's legislature needs when considering health care policy. I have personally witnessed the disastrous effects this latest economic downturn has had on Virginia's patients. I am committed to providing the best health care possible for both insured and uninsured patients alike. As chairman of a local free medical clinic, we provided free clinical and surgical healthcare to uninsured patients who would otherwise have to go without the necessary medical services. I continue to serve through "Project Access", a program which connects uninsured patients with doctors who will provide them necessary care.

Our campaign for Delegate in Virginia's 35th District is an extension of my life's work to help people. My perspective as a practicing surgeon and my involvement in the community will enable me to give better direction for Virginia's General Assembly to consider policies beneficial to the health and well-being of Virginia's citizens. It is imperative that every Virginian has adequate preventative health care regardless of their circumstances.

With your help, I will be the only Democratic "Doctor in the House"

The election is on Tuesday, June 9th. We need your help and support. We will be sending out weekly email updates about the campaign, and we'd love your feedback. We hope that you will get involved with our campaign.

Together, we can!

Esam Omeish, 
Please visit Esam Omeish's campaign website for more.

To contribute:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Remember Our brave men and women on Memorial Day

As we prepare to begin the Memorial Day weekend, it is important for each of us to pause for a moment and reflect on the meaning for the day. While it can be viewed as the unofficial start of summer and a chance to enjoy a family picnic, we all should recognize Memorial Day is truly a day for remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice to make our Nation free.

Our brave, selfless, and devoted men and women have fought and died to protect the rights and freedoms we all enjoy every day. This is our opportunity to honor them.

As a Americans and a Democrats, we should set an example and educate our children and grandchildren the true meaning of Memorial Day and remind them of the tremendous privileges we Americans enjoy thanks to the valiant service of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen.

As you enjoy the long weekend with friends and family, I ask you to remember the ideals that make our country great and those who have sacrificed to protect those ideals.

Attend one of the many memorial services across the state. Proudly display the Flag. If you see a veteran or person currently serving our Nation in the Armed Forces, tell them "thank you," because we owe a debt to them that can never fully be repaid. And say a prayer for all those currently serving our Nation in harm's way.

Happy Memorial Day and may God continue to bless Virginia and the United States!

Esam Omeish

Monday, May 11, 2009

What community Says About Doctor Esam Omeish

Call it a sign of the times. Despite his stellar record in the community as both a physician and activist for the needy, there is a vocal minority with extreme views in the blogosphere and media who want to distort and tarnish the good name of Dr. Esam Omeish. Read below a few direct comments made by a variety of well-respected community leaders and professionals about Dr. Esam Omeish as they defend his character:

Virginia's Governor Tim Kaine: "Dr. Omeish is a respected physician and community leader."  

In 2007, despite the honor of Gov. Kaine selecting him to serve a political appointment, Dr. Omeish sought the appropriate attention be placed on the critical work of Governor Kaine's commission. Out of respect for Gov. Kaine, Dr. Omeish did not want any media controversy created over appointees like himself to detract from the underlying purpose of the Governor's commission.

 Other people regrettably understood Dr. Omeish's humble and unselfish decision to forgo fighting the vicious attacks against his honor. Below are just a few examples of how others stood up to offer their moral support to Dr. Omeish. 

 Father Jerry Creeden, : "Words of support from the Faith community, the Commonwealth (of Virginia) is for all of us."

 Rabbi J. Moline: "I am sorry that the juggernaut of prejudice has resulted in your resignation. I would welcome your defense. This is an extended hand from my community, let us do something together."

 Attorney Vic Glasberg: "You have handled with grace the indignity visited upon you. What you said was understandable and suitable for its context, and its misuse is regrettable and an injury to us all."

 Kate Hanley, Virginia Secretary of State: "Dr. Omeish is one of two elected from his peers from among more than 300 physicians, and he was the recipient of the "Outstanding Physician of the Year Award" for 2007 in Alexandria Hospital". 

 Many doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, and patients who know Dr. Omeish personally also felt compelled to write their words of support for him. Below is just a couple of statements exemplifying how strongly his colleagues support him.

 Dr. L. Kerness: "I have known you (Dr. Omeish) as a caring and skilled surgeon, a gentleman, and a family man. It is hard to imagine you as anything other that a pacifist. Rest assured that I, and all those I have spoken to, have not waivered in our support of you as a person and a surgeon, and are not swayed by media hype and political propaganda. I wish you and your family peace during this stressful time, and remember that this too shall pass."

E. Bushmiller, RN, CNOR, B. Engler, BSN, CNOR, C. Hortman, RN: "The one thing we would like to make clear is the commitment Dr. Omeish has to democracy and more importantly peace. He is a committed family man, hard working and capable surgeon, and a good person. He is knowledgeable in basic tenets of the three Abrahimic religions and points to areas where they intersect, always searching for common ground. We are upset and disheartened with what has happened to Dr. Omeish. We wish to speak up on his behalf."

  As the Chief of General Surgery at Alexandria Hospital, Dr. Esam Omeish has earned the highest praise from his colleagues and patients because of his tireless and unconditional advocacy for the highest quality patient care, regardless of a patient's financial status. With your assistance, Dr. Esam Omeish will represent Virginia's 35th District with the same passion as a healthcare advocate at it's General Assembly. He will bring to Richmond his same caring ethical standards and proven leadership skills that have led Dr. Omeish to winning the "Outstanding Physician of the Year Award" in 2007.  

We must be able to compete and deliver our winning message of building on the successes of Governors Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. The time to make a much-needed investment in our campaign is now.

Even a small contribution of $10 or $20 makes a real difference.


Over the past few days, Esam has withstood attacks and has continued to focus on talking to voters about his fresh ideas, chairing his comprehensive plans for Accessible quality healthcare,  improve NoVA transportaion, Conscientious environmental stewardship, and Continued excellence in education.  

With just less than one month to go, we need your help to make sure Esam can be heard over the chorus of attacks, and spread his positive message throughout the 35th District.

To take a stand with Esam, please make a contribution today.

Let's give Dr. Omeish the opportunity to be the same role model for Virginians for which he has already been awarded by his medical peers at Alexandria Hospital. Help Dr. Omeish to give excellence in healthcare to all Virginians.  

Together We Can!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Supporting Virginia's Economy

I realize that Virginians are facing the toughest economic times since The Great Depression. Because the nation's economic downturn has taken it's toll on Virginia's workers, I support President Barack Obama's recently passed Stimulus Package (Congress' American Recovery and Reinvestment Act). I support it because it provides Virginians with $4 billion to improve it's state infrastructure while it puts more Virginians back to work.  

The bill also allows for $125 million in assistance to extend insurance benefits and provide retraining assistance to unemployed Virginians. Given the opportunity to serve Virginia as the 35th District Delegate, I would not elect to send the Stimulus funds back to Washington. Instead I would support Gov. Tim Kaine's statement that an additional $4.50 per worker annually is manageable for Virginia's employers.

This is particularly true since the additional $4.50 per worker would only be paid for those Virginians still unemployed 2 years after the Stimulus funds have taken their effect on Virginia's economy. This is a relatively small price to pay to avoid a worsening middle class economic meltdown that would otherwise translate into more suffering for our Virginia neighbors across the board. I would instead seek to provide immediate relief for unemployed Virginian workers to help them manage their financial affairs during what is the worst economic crisis they have suffered since The Great Depression.

Looking ahead, I see Virginia's 35th District as a vibrant, diverse, and progressive community with much untapped economic potential. I would seek to help generate more "green" jobs to lead Virginia towards a renewable energy economy while we respect and protect Virginia's natural beauty and environment. I would also seek to invest more funds for providing greater internet access to further develop Virginia's electronic infrastructure. Additionally, I would support more research and development funding for Virginia's universities. This would encourage a Virginia economy based on "the best and the brightest" it has to offer it's citizens. Expanded funding for small business and entrepreneurship programs will also help Virginia continue as a national leader in job innovation.

With your help, I will be able to help Virginia's citizens heal their economy as I represent it's 35th Delegate District. I will work to have Virginia's General Assembly consider policies that will encourage even greater opportunities and prosperity for Virginia's businesses and workers as we strive for a complete and full economic recovery.  

Help me be Virginia's next 35th District Delegate


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