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.
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.
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.