Ahmad Zahra commemorates achievements of first year in office
Ahmad Zahra commemorates the achievements of his first year in office on the Fullerton, California City Council. An Arab American, Zahra is praised as a conscientious and dedicated public servant
This month marks my first year on council, and it’s been an honor to serve my beloved community. Although Fullerton has faced many tough issues and hard decisions, we have brought our city forward with our accomplishments. I look forward to serving my community in years to come.
Balanced BudgetDelivering a balanced budget for the City of Fullerton was a priority of mine prior to running for council. This year, we approved a stronger reserve with an additional $5.5 million towards road improvements, and reduced community center fees with a rental fee discount for veterans.
In 2019, our strategic plan priorities included approving a more equitable and sustainable water rate structure, as well as heavily investing in our water pipes, sewer, and roadway structures throughout the city.
Delivering a balanced budget for the City of Fullerton was a priority of mine prior to running for council. This year, we approved a stronger reserve with an additional $5.5 million towards road improvements, and reduced community center fees with a rental fee discount for veterans.
Implementing strong solutions for our homelessness crisis has been a goal for all cities in Orange County. Fullerton incorporated a safe parking program, a partnership in two regional navigation centers in which we broke ground, a recuperative center, and a task force to advise on further solutions. We also approved a rental assistance program for low income seniors living in mobile parks.
I fought to make economic development a priority for our city government, because a strong economy means better services for residents. At my urging, the city created a dedicated staff position focused on economic development and assisting local businesses. This renewed focus has already brought more job opportunities to our city, including bringing the county’s first regional job fair to Fullerton!
Public safety is one of the leading priorities in our city. Accomplishment of 2019 include increased park lighting, adequate and additional stop signs, speed control solutions, and emergency response training in Spanish. In addition, we purchased a new fire engine and new emergency gear. Also, our Police Department received an improved pay package to tackle our officer shortage, as well as additional funding to maintain strong police community outreach and more neighborhood patrolling.
This year, I advocated and embraced our cultural diversity with raising the Pride Flag during pride month, recognizing Arab American Heritage Month, encouraging Muslim and Jewish participation in our invocations, bringing back holiday decorations, and approving approving the restoration of our Lemon Bridge Murals that celebrate our city’s Latino heritage.
Early in the year, I was appointed to serve as a representative for Fullerton on the Orange County Water District. I advocated and successfully created a working group to tackle water issues in our county’s disadvantaged communities. The results of this group include securing a grant for our water wells in Fullerton and support for water education programs for schools in low income areas.
Enhanced Community Engagement
I’ve made a strong effort to improve engagement and resident access to local government. I have maintained my social media updates, hosted and attended over two dozen community meetings, started an educational panel series and attended many community events in support of the non profits in our city.
There still is plenty to do on many fronts and I’m looking forward to the rest of my term so together we can make Fullerton the best it can be for all of us.
For more information and updates, follow me on Facebook and Instagram.
Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. He began writing in 1975 publishing The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues as Special US Correspondent for the Arab News ArabNews.com, at TheArabDailyNews.com, and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday, the Orlando Sentinel, Houston Chronical, and Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.