As host Murad Ajani, President of the Aga Khan Council for the Southwestern United States, gave the welcome address to the audience and candidates, he highlighted the core values of the Ismaili community, saying, “The Aga Khan and the Ismaili Muslims promote an understanding of Islam that draws on the value of service, pluralism, forgiveness, and the unity of our shared humanity.”
The moderators for the Forum were Emmy award-winning reporter and KHOU fill-in anchor Grace White, along with Houston-based attorney and Board Member of LVW Houston, Phillip Yates. Moderators presented the panel of candidates with questions, and each candidate was provided allocated time for responses. The audience was impressed by the dedication shown by each candidate to serve the city of Sugar Land.
During the forum, an interesting question was posed about what each valued most on a free Saturday. Many agreed that a “free Saturday” is rare, but if able to take advantage of such an opportunity, candidates highlighted numerous activities that are available in Sugar Land, including Town Center’s “Movies Under the Stars,” parks, events at the Smart Financial Center, and Skeeters Stadium.
Sugar Land is one of the most diverse cities in the country and the candidates were unified in shining the light on the city’s embrace of diverse ideas, and the contributions of the residents, local businesses, and cultural activities. Candidate Naushad Kermally offered an icebreaker exercise to engage the audience by requesting them to introduce themselves to one another in thirty seconds, thus highlighting the true extent of diversity represented in the hall.
Each candidate on stage energetically touched on how they would work towards making Sugar Land a place for people of all cultures, demographics, and beliefs.
Mayor Zimmerman of Sugar Land remarked, “It’s a great forum, with meaningful questions and gives people the time to answer those questions.” Referring to the Ismaili community, he said: “We always have great hosts with [President] Murad and this community center. They are always a front-runner and I always appreciate them for hosting. A big thank you to all our candidates. There’s going to be some hard choices for people!”
In the election held on May 4, the District 2 position was led by Naushad Kermally, who took 39.16 percent of the 4,173 ballots cast. Candidate Nabila Mansoor came in close behind with 34.22 percent. There will be a run-off election on June 8 to determine the winner.