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Deardra Shuler talks with Zead Ramadan who after years of serving on the Community Board, is running for the City Council for the 7th District City Council seat currently occupied by Robert Jackson, who is running for Manhattan borough president. The 46 year old Kuwaiti-born, Washington Heights resident is best known in the neighborhood as a community leader, previously serving as chair of Community Board 12 and current owner of X Cafe. Arriving in NY from Kuwait at age 5, he is one of 8 children. He attended public school and earned his degree in political science from Stony Brook University. After honing his skills in the streets and vacant lots as a child in his largely Dominican-American community, Zead says his upbringing gave him an “intimate passion” for the issues facing the district.
Ramadan, who would be the council’s first Arab-American is the son of Palestinian immigrants. Ramadan moved to Washington Heights from Kuwait in 1971. His father worked as a baker on 164th Street to support the family. Now, Ramadan is the chairman of the board for the NY chapter of the Council for American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights organization, and member and former chair of Community Board 12. The hardships his family faced helped to color his political views, particularly with respect to economic development in Upper Manhattan. Ramadan owns X Cafe in Washington Heights and worked with nonprofits ranging from the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation to the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, which he said aims to make his neighborhood an “economic environment where artists can survive.” As a candidate he will address education and affordable housing policies.
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