Gary Woronchak’s accomplishments

and advocacy for,

and relationship with, the Arab and Muslim American Community

Wayne County Commission Chairman Gary Woronchak has been a leading advocate for the Arab and Muslim communities he has represented for his 14 years as a Wayne County Commissioner and for six years as a State Representative before that.

 

Here are some highlights:

 

  • Introduced and passed the state Halal Food Act (Public Act 207 of 2002), which makes it a crime to falsely represent non-Halal food products as Halal. Along with being an important consumer protection measure, the Halal Food Act is significant because it is the first acknowledgement of Islam in Michigan law.
     

  • Co-sponsored the Wayne County Halal Food Ordinance in 2005, creating similar protections on a local level as his state Halal Food Act.
     

  • Obtained $1 million in state funds for construction of the Community Health & Research Center developed by ACCESS (Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services) at 6450 Maple, off Schaefer Road, south of Warren Avenue, in Dearborn.The health center is a full-service primary care facility designed to provide medical treatment for those who can’t afford health care. Woronchak presented a symbolic $1 million check at the ACCESS annual banquet in 2000 and was credited for his role in obtaining the funding during the dedication of the health center in May 2003.
     

  • Introduced two resolutions in the state House of Representatives urging Congress to enact the Secret Evidence Repeal Act and successfully fought for a hearing on the issue of Secret Evidence in 2000 before the House Committee on Criminal Justice, to raise awareness of the issue among legislators. Secret Evidence was the federal government's practice of detaining and deporting Arabs and Muslims with evidence it would not disclose.
     

  • In the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Gary realized that ignorance needed to be countered to keep legislators from other areas of the state from blaming all Muslims for the attacks. He organized a meeting in Lansing for legislators to learn about Islam, bringing a religious leader, a community activist and a journalist to the Capitol to break down barriers of misunderstanding.

 

  • Helped to kill Michigan Senate Resolution 77 of 2003, which expressed “solidarity with Israel in its fight against terrorism.” Rep. Woronchak received thanks from the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) after convincing the sponsor of the resolution, who also chaired the Senate committee to which it was referred, that it was not the State Senate’s place to take sides in this international matter of which most Senators didn’t have a full understanding.
     

  • Gary amended the School Aid Act in 2002 to change the formula for at-risk funding, resulting in $2.5 million more every year for Dearborn Public Schools programs for students who need extra help. He brought state leaders to Salina Elementary to show them how successful programs were for students at whose homes English was not the primary language, which helped him obtain the extra funding for our classrooms. In an editorial entitled, “Woronchak comes through in clutch for Dearborn Schools,” the Dearborn Times-Herald wrote: “Because of true determination and hard work, Woronchak managed to direct these funds to Dearborn for this year, and the next decade.”

 

  • Helped to secure a $6.8 million federal grant through Wayne County for the construction of HYPE Athletics Recreation Center in Dearborn Heights.
     

  • Gary co-sponsored a state resolution in commemoration of Ramadan in 2003. He has continued that tradition by having the Wayne County Commission adopt a resolution for Ramadan each year, recognizing Islam as a religion of peace.
     

  • Hosted a program at the Wayne County Commission with a ceremony and a resolution supporting the Campaign to Take on Hate, a national grassroots effort to combat bias and discrimination based on religion and ethnicity.
     

  • Introduced a resolution opposing President Trump's "Muslim Ban." Trump’s so-called travel ban, which attempted to stop all refugees as well as immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, went into effect Jan. 27, 2017. Woronchak’s resolution in opposition was approved by the Commission on Feb. 2, making Wayne County likely the first local government on record in opposition.

 

  • Issued a statement condemning President Trump's decision last December to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to direct the State Department to begin the process for moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Gary said: “The President of the United States has taken a sledge hammer to one of the world’s most delicate matters, and I add my voice to those of leaders in governments around the world who have condemned this reckless move. This unnecessarily risks destabilization and the enflaming of tensions that could result in violence, while resolving nothing.”

 

  • Gary for years has participated in and spoken at marches and rallies in support of the Arab and Muslim communities. He received the AAPAC Public Service Award in 2003 and was keynote speaker at the Yemen American Benevolent Association (YABA) banquet in 2000. He supports scholarship efforts for Yemeni American Association and YABA and supports all groups in the community.