Faris Zwirahn launches campaign for NJ Assembly Legislative District 16
PRINCETON, NJ — Local activist, teacher, and scholar Faris Zwirahn announced today his candidacy to seek the voters’ nomination in the Democratic primary for one of two open Assembly seats in New Jersey’s 16th District.
Faris, a first-generation college graduate who grew up on a farm in rural Eastern Syria, is committed to progressive ideas, including the need for diverse representation in government. If elected, he would be the first Arab-American, first naturalized immigrant, and first Muslim to serve in the New Jersey legislature.
Faris is passionate about implementing COVID-19 relief policies that positively impact those most marginalized, encourage good governance reform, and support health in our community. His campaign will prioritize progressive policies, including:
providing hazard pay to low-paid frontline workers during the pandemic
ensuring parents, and especially mothers, have access to the childcare subsidies they need to remain in the workforce
advocating for restorative justice alternatives to the criminal legal system
promoting diverse representation in New Jersey government that reflects our community through improving our ballot design and creating a non-partisan fund to support candidates from marginalized communities’ run for public offices in New Jersey
implementing smart taxation to support health and redefine poverty
using smart taxation to support Medicaid expansion, address the opioid crisis, and increase the poverty line
“My deep personal experience with poverty and knowing the struggle of trying to get ahead are part of the reason why I am running. Additionally, growing up and having a front-row seat to authoritarianism and inequity shaped my deep appreciation and understanding of the importance of human rights,” Faris said. He continued, “Most importantly, New Jerseyans and our community were there for me when I needed them the most as a refugee. They were there for me when the Trump Administration and his ‘Muslim Ban’ rhetoric became a threat to so many of our neighbors and me. My first-hand experience as a minority and immigrant helps me understand the struggle of so many people in our community. Now, I have a duty to serve as we continue to fight for a more progressive agenda that reflects the diversity of our growing constituency.”
In 2010, he successfully obtained a Fulbright Scholarship, which allowed him to leave Syria to study in the United States. When his Fulbright expired, conditions in Syria worsened, and it became clear that if Faris returned to Syria, he would be disappeared due to his political activism. Faris applied for and received political asylum in the United States, and more importantly, seven years later, in 2017, became an American citizen right here in the Garden State.
Hayyat Muheisen, a legal advocate for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Hunterdon and Warren Counties affirmed her support for Faris saying, “I am so proud to see someone of Arab and Muslim descent running for State Assembly. There is such a wide gap of misrepresentation between the people and political representation.” She added, “I support Faris Zwirahn because I know he will bring legislative change to help minorities of all groups and those who really need to have their voices heard.”
Gailon McGowen, a Montgomery Township resident, also showed his support for Faris’s agenda. “I have known Faris for a number of years, and I can attest to the fact that he will be a fierce fighter for those who struggle in poverty and lack access to effective political representation. I know that he will do so with humility, civility, and a fierce determination.”