Chaldeans successful in Michigan primaries, kick off campaigns for Nov. 6 General Election

Several Chaldean Americans were listed as candidates on ballots during the Michigan primaries, but only two were successful in their bids, moving on to compete in the Nov. 6 general election.

Klint Kesto, an assistant Wayne County Prosecutor and Diane D’Agostini, Oakland County Circut Court Judge for the 48th District Court have kicked off their campaigns for the general election. On Tuesday a fundraiser for Kesto’s campaign was expected to take place at the Shenandoah Country Club in West Bloomfield with guest speaker Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, and special guests Senator Mike Kowell and Oakland County Clerk Bill Bullard Jr.

Kesto is running in the race for the 39th House District which represents all of Commerce Township, Wixom and the Western half of West Bloomfield. D’Agostini is seeking a third term on the bench. She was elected as a district judge in November 2000 after winning all 84 precincts in the 48th District. She was then reappointed Chief Judge by the Michigan Supreme Court effective for a six year term in November 2006.

If Kesto is elected he would become the first Chaldean to serve on the Michigan State Legislature, and reportedly the first Chaldean American in the United States to become a State Representative. To date no Chaldean has ever reportedly served as a state representative or member of the U.S. Congress. The Chaldean community and its leaders have rallied strongly behind Kesto, to ensure that the community is represented in state government.

Kesto will face Democrat Pam Jackson in the General Election. Jackson is a Math professor at Oakland Community College. According to reports, when Kesto was competing in the primaries he was the only candidate among his opponents with a law degree.

Kesto received 28 percent of the vote in the primaries, and Jackson received about 68 percent.

D’Agostini won more than 65 percent of the vote in the primaries, and will compete against Josh Arnkoff in the general election. Arnkoff received more than 18 percent of the vote.

D’Agostini received her bachelor’s degree with a major in journalism from Wayne State University, and was published in several local magazines before going to law school.

She graduated from the Detroit College of Law, presently Michigan State University, College of Law and furthered her legal studies at Oxford University in England.

Prior to being elected a District Judge, Diane D’Agostini served as an assistant prosecutor in Oakland County from 1991-2000. She prosecuted criminal cases in the Warrants Division, District Court Division, and Circuit Court Division and served as the Chief of the Parole Appeal Section. In this role, she successfully blocked the release of numerous violent prisoners including murderers, child molesters and other dangerous prisoners. She was awarded the Domestic Violence Prevention Award presented by the Oakland County Coordinating Council Against Domestic Violence in 2011.

Judge D’Agostini finds great reward in teaching the youth about the law. She formed a program directed specifically for children called, “Order in the Court”. The program has involved thousands of local 4th graders coming to court to learn about the law in a simple and age appropriate manner, featuring a mock trial staged by the students. It has earned “favorite field trip” comments by many of the school children and has become an annual field trip for many of the local schools.

Kesto serves on the Mother of God Church Parish Council in Southfield, is a board member on the Chaldean Chamber of Commerce, and Chaldean Federation of America, member of the Chaldean American Bar Association, Associated Food and Petroleum Dealers, and associated with the West Bloomfield Republican Party. He’s a graduate of Wayne State University Law School. As an attorney he’s handled cases ranging from assault with intent to murder and embezzlement. In May Kesto told The Arab American News he felt encouraged to run, because he views it as an opportunity to advance the ideals of not only his own community but other minority communities throughout the state. Kesto comes from a family of small business owners.