Al Haidous currently serves as a Wayne County commissioner. Upon his election as mayor of Wayne in 2001, he became the first Muslim mayor in the United States.
2001 was a difficult year for us as Americans. Some people thought it might be difficult for me to get elected. But the people in Wayne approved, saying, “He’s our son and we believe in him through the reputation he has built.” I was honored, and I can’t thank them enough. I served for 14 years.
I’m not the only contributor to my success. A lot of people contributed to that. I wouldn’t be here without my wife, God bless her. She was the backbone. If I’m busy with the city, she’s running the store. When the kids get out of school, she’s home to feed them and make sure they do their homework.
We worked hard. But we didn’t feel it because we always managed to laugh together when we sat down at the dinner table.
Yesterday, I turned 74. I’m in the sunset of my life. But I enjoy what I’m doing, and I hope I can serve as long as I can. The day I know I’m not too happy with my performance, then I’ll call it quits. But as long as I’m happy and feel I’m doing what the people expect me to, I’m doing it.
The salary when I started was $2,800 a year. A reporter asked me, “If you’re not making money, what do you want out of this?” I told him, “I have a small business in this community, and through that, the community supports me, and loves me and my family, and educates my kids.”
I want one thing: one day, when somebody sees my son, my daughter, my grandson, my granddaughter, to hug them and tell them, “Grandpa was a good man.” That’s all I want to take with me. If I could accomplish that, I’m the most successful person.