By Natasha Dado
WEST BLOOMFIELD – Klint Kesto, newly elected republican state representative for Michigan’s 39th House District made history Tuesday when he became the first Chaldean American to serve on the state legislature.
Kesto’s district represents all of Commerce Township, Wixom, the Western half of West Bloomfield Township and Wolverine Lake. Chaldeans are taking great pride in Kesto’s victory, with many describing it as a major milestone for a community that’s often misunderstood and still widely unknown outside of Michigan.
“There are a lot of misconceptions and confusion about who Chaldeans are, and I think his election is going to help clear some of that up,” said Eric Younan director of strategic initiatives for the Chaldean Community Foundation.
There are more than 120,000 Chaldeans in Michigan, but the community which has contributed immensely to the state’s economy through its entrepreneurial spirit has never had a face to represent it in state government until now.
“We have the largest concentration of Chaldeans outside the Middle East. We need representation in state government,” Younan said.
Kesto is an assistant prosecutor for Wayne County, and a graduate of Wayne State University’s Law School. He earned 53% of the vote in the Nov. 6 general election, beating his opponent Democrat Pam Jackson who garnered 46.5% of votes.
Since Kesto launched his campaign more than eight months ago, Chaldeans have rallied behind him in an effort to ensure the community has representation in Lansing. “We might see a lot more Chaldeans getting into politics,” Younan said.
Derek Dickow, an activist in the Chaldean community and the owner and founder of Steward Media has worked with Kesto’s campaign since it launched more than eight months ago.
Dickow said out of the 110 House Districts in Michigan, Kesto’s campaign was among the top five most well funded.
“We are extremely excited about making history, and we’re really confident in Klint’s ability to increase the quality of life for people in this district. People have stood behind him because of his integrity and honesty,” Dickow said.
Kesto’s victory has already started getting other Chaldeans questioning what they can do to get the community more organized.
“I’ve been getting calls from people since he was elected asking what they can do to get our community moving forward, and more visable on the state and national level,” Dickow said.
|Right Derek Dickow, founder and president of Steward Media stands with newly elected state representative of Michigan’s 39th House District, Klint Kesto who made history Tuesday as he became the first Chaldean to serve on the state legislature. The two are featured at the Shenandoah Country Club in West Bloomfield where Kesto’s election night gathering was held and attended by about 300 people.|
Kesto’s win speaks volumes about where the next generation of Chaldean Americans is headed. More young Chaldeans are moving away from the traditional roles of entrepreneurship their parents held, and pursuing college careers.