TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Derek Dickow, Steward Media
DATE: June 20, 2018
RE: Klint Kesto Pathway to Washington, D.C.
The Chaldean community has an $11 billion impact annually in Michigan’s economy. In one generation, our community has become one of the greatest cultural success stories in U.S. history. We are, and rightfully deserve to be, proud of our cultural, economic, and educational achievements.
Our pathway to success is the retelling of the American Dream, which began similarly to other ethnic minorities: escaping our native homeland to avoid religious persecution and fleeing to America in pursuit of a better life.
We’ve had much help, and thank our neighbors and friends in the metro Detroit Jewish community for providing a roadmap.
The secret to our success – hard work
In 1977, Khalid Kesto, a Chaldean Iraqi Christian, arrived in America. Like other migrants from the Chaldean, Assyrian, and Syriac communities, Kesto’s early days in America were spent tirelessly working. He found independence by opening his own grocery store in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan.
Khalid married Nidhal Dalal in 1979, and they dreamed of building a family rooted in faith. They instilled cultural values by teaching their children the Arabic and Aramaic languages, and sent their children to Catholic school so they could enjoy every wonderful opportunity America offers. They sacrificed with 100-hour work weeks, took risks as entrepreneurs, and did everything in their power to be good role models for their four children. Today, they can say with pride that they nurtured and raised a surgeon, lawyer, nurse, and marketing professional.
Only in America
Klint Kesto went to Brother Rice Catholic High School, and was a leader at a young age. He mentored others and participated in community-focused organizations through Mother of God Chaldean Catholic Church in Southfield, Michigan. In the Fall of 1999, he began his studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In 2002, after a distinguished collegiate career where he helped revive the Chaldean American Student Association, he chose to pursue a law degree and subsequently graduated from Wayne State University Law School with a juris doctorate in 2006. He then began his professional career as an assistant prosecutor in Wayne County.
He worked six years in the prosecutor’s office, volunteered for his church’s Parish Council, and served as a board member of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce (CACC). In 2012, Klint saw an opportunity to serve our community and the citizens of the 39th House District as a member of the Republican party. We made history together working with community leaders like Michael George and organizations like the CACC, the Chaldean American Ladies of Charity, the Arab and Chaldean Council, and the Associated Food and Petroleum Dealers as Klint became the first Chaldean elected in Michigan’s Legislature.
(Michael George, Klint Kesto & Derek Dickow celebrate history on November 6, 2012.)
(State Rep. Klint Kesto sworn in by Lt. Governor Brian Calley in January 2013 surrounded by his family.)
During the campaigns of 2012, 2014, and 2016, Representative Kesto worked long days and nights knocking on tens of thousands of doors. Rep. Kesto helped people get registered, spoke to the community about their civic duty, volunteered his time, and represented our community with respect, integrity, and conservative values.
(Rep. Kesto speaks to a group of Chaldean young professionals on the campaign trail.)
As a recent example, at a reception for Chaldean Legislative Day at the Capitol on May 15, 2018, Rep. Kesto welcomed over 40 Chaldeans who recently became American citizens by speaking in Aramaic. He translated his comments to, “Isn’t it incredible that we can speak Aramaic in the Capitol, and celebrate our religious freedoms in this country? You and your children have the same opportunity to become anything you want,” as he then introduced his wife and two young children. It was a prideful moment for those in attendance.
(Rep. Kesto pictured with new Americans at Chaldean Legislative Day at the Capitol.)
Chaldeans are a known commodity in Michigan
We’ve had a tremendous presence in Lansing over the years thanks to the efforts of our community leaders. Having Rep. Kesto serve in Lansing these past six years has taken our presence to another level, and the word is out. It’s a common sentiment often repeated about the presidential election of 2016 – “Trump became our President by winning big in Macomb County, and those 13,000 votes came from the Chaldean community.”
About half of Michigan’s 160,000 Chaldeans live in Macomb, the other in Oakland. Although Rep. Kesto represents the 39th district, not a week passes without someone from the Chaldean community calling on issues concerning general business, immigration, or other matters. Regardless of where Chaldeans live, they call on Rep. Kesto and say – “He’s Chaldean, he’s one of ours.”
(Fr. Manuel Boji, Vicar General of the Chaldean diocese, delivers the invocation before the start of session in Lansing, MI circa 2016.)
Congressional seats are generational
United States Congressional leaders run every two years with no term limits, and get reelected based on voter demographic in their respective districts. Let’s look at the Democratic delegation as a good example. Former Congressman John Dingell, Sr., was elected to Congress in 1933 and served for 22 years, then his son, John Dingell, Jr., held the office for 59 years, until his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell succeeded him in 2015.
Congressman Sander Levin served the 9th District over 35 years before deciding to retire, and his son Andy is in position to secure the seat this Fall. Former Congressman John Conyers served the 13th District more than 50 years, and his nephew is actively campaigning for the open seat. We are following the pattern.
A moment in time
When Congressman David Trott, of the 11th District, announced his retirement from Congress at the end of 2018, Rep. Kesto saw an opportunity to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Consider the cultural diversity within the 11th District, and pundits widely regard this open seat as a coveted Top 10 race. As of today, there are 30,000 registered Chaldean voters in the 11th District, and there are five Republicans and five Democrats running in the crowded field.
Our strategy is simple: the expectation on turnout in the Republican primary is about 65,000 voters, and Rep. Kesto has the most viable pathway to victory if the Chaldean community votes.
Are you in or out?
It’s time we decide as a community if we want to send the first Chaldean to United States Congress – not because he’s Chaldean – because he’s qualified. He’s the right candidate and the timing is perfect. He’s proven he can represent us well, he’s continuously been accountable and accessible while availing himself when we’ve needed him most.
(State Rep. Klint Kesto pictured with Fr. Anthony Kathawa, Governor Rick Snyder and Fr. Wisam Matti.)
Our community is comprised of some of the most successful doctors, lawyers, commercial real estate developers, professional service providers, retailers, and entrepreneurs in this country. We have a collective decision to make. With much respect to the congressional leaders who currently support our community, we have a candidate who understands our issues best. He is our son, nephew, brother, cousin, and friend – he’s one of us.
Do we value representation?
The next chapter in our community should follow another page taken from our Jewish neighbors. They clearly understand the need for representation. With Congressman Klint Kesto, the Chaldean community will take the next step in our fantastic journey. We invite you to join our cause.
(State Rep. Kesto with leaders from the Chaldean and Jewish community, and Governor Rick Snyder after the passage of House Bill 4493 Mandating Holocaust and Armenian genocide instruction in public high schools.)
Our ask of you
We need your vote on August 7, 2018, we need you to request an absentee ballot if you’re unable to make it to the polls, we need resources to get on TV, we need locations for lawn signs, and we need your energy to encourage your family, friends, and neighbors. We need the community to commit to making history.
We can send the first Chaldean to Congress. Let’s make history!
Are you in or out?
Derek Dickow is a political consultant and campaign finance director for Klint Kesto for United States Congress. He’s the founder of Steward Media, a metro Detroit-based PR firm, a Board Member of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce and the Chair of its Political Action Committee.