Making history: Shadow Creek Ranch resident running to become first Muslim elected in Brazoria County

Shadow Creek Ranch resident Dalia Kasseb could be county's first elected Muslim official.

Shadow Creek Ranch resident Dalia Kasseb could be county's first elected Muslim official.

As Pearland grows and becomes more diverse, the debate over representation that cuts across ethnic, religious, gender and ideological lines has risen to prominence.

The percentage of Black and Asian residents has grown by 10 percentage points each, and the percentage of Hispanic and Latino residents has grown by 5 percentage points since 2000 even as the city's population has boomed, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

It was only two years ago when the first nonwhite city council member, Derrick Reed, was elected in Pearland's more than 120-year history.

Now, another Pearland resident is pushing the envelope. Shadow Creek Ranch resident Dalia Kasseb, 30, is running to become the first Muslim elected in Pearland and Brazoria County history.

Pearland Dalia Kasseb Dalia Kasseb is running for Pearland City Council Position No. 7. If elected, she would be the first elected Muslim official in the county.[/caption]

Kasseb is on the crowded ballot of the hotly contested Pearland City Council Position No. 7, a newly created council seat that was spurred by the development and population boom in west Pearland. Currently, two of the six council members are from west Pearland, only one of whom is from Shadow Creek Ranch.

Kasseb is a pharmacist and co-owner of the specialty compounding pharmacy, Pyramids Pharmacy, which she operates with her family.

"I was raised to serve others. I work with my patients daily to serve them. My main motivation is to bring that kind of energy in the health care field to my community here in Pearland," Kasseb said.

Even in the heated political climate surrounding Muslims in the U.S. and abroad, Kasseb doesn't shy away from talking about her faith as an observant Muslim woman who dons the headscarf known as a hijab. She looks to other prominent figures like Congressman Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, who was the first Muslim elected to Congress and Abdul El-Sayed, who is running to be the first Muslim governor of Michigan.

Kasseb has framed herself as "a voice for all" residents in her campaign for city council. Her top priorities include transportation and alleviating traffic congestion, funding for parks and green spaces, managing public debt and bringing a diverse perspective to city council as a health care professional, small business owner, Millennial and woman.

"Pearland was marketed to my family as a 15 minute drive to the Texas Medical Center. Every piece of marketing said our community would be central to all the activities we could hope for. What happened? ... This rapid growth requires intense responsibility," Kasseb said.

Kasseb is also one of only three women on the ballot for the May election with a total of 13 candidates. The last woman on Pearland City Council was Susan Sherrouse, who lost her re-election bid to council member Gary Moore in 2014. The first woman to serve on city council was Frances Philpott, who was elected in 1978.

"Throughout my life, the values of equal opportunity and advocacy have resonated strongly with me," Kasseb said. "Women are not a minority in Pearland, but we're definitely nonexistent on city council."

In addition to Kasseb's top priorities, she has spoken out against the Blue Ridge Landfill.

Although city council elections are nonpartisan—meaning candidates don't run under a Republican or Democratic ticket—candidates can be endorsed by or affiliated with a political party on the campaign trail. Kasseb has been taken into the fold of the Brazoria County Democratic Party, receiving political support from party vice chair Robert Williams, who has served in party leadership positions as early as 2000. Williams is looking to boost more young, diverse, up-and-coming professionals into local leadership positions.

"These people that we get elected, this is a springboard for them," Williams said. "At the local level, they affect our pocket books, our quality of life and our children's future even more than the president. It's so important to get like-minded individuals elected."

During the 2016 presidential elections, the Brazoria County Democratic Party began outreach efforts in the Pearland Muslim community and appointed Mohammad Alam, the first Muslim state delegate in the county's history and a Pearland resident. Alam has established himself as an informal political liaison between the Pearland Muslim community and the county Democratic Party. Alam encouraged Kasseb to enter public life and run for local office.

"People don't look at your hijab and religion when they talk about community issues," Alam said. "She is the first ever Muslim candidate in Pearland. If she wins or loses, the perception is going to change."

Kasseb has been campaigning side-by-side with Quentin Wiltz, who is running for mayor of Pearland. If Wiltz wins the vote in May, he would be the first nonwhite mayor in Pearland history.


Texas Bay Credit Union is coming to Pearland

Texas Bay Credit Union is opening a Pearland location at 11555 Magnolia Parkway in March.

Houston-area hospitals to close include the Tomball, Spring, Heights and Bay Area locations of Kindred Hospital, according to the statement. (Anna Lotz/Community Impact Newspaper)
Kindred Healthcare to close 6 Houston, Dallas locations

Four Houston-area locations of Kindred Hospital will close by March 17.

Coastal CBD Relief now open in Pearland

The family-owned and -operated business sells CBD products, including CBD oil.

Pearland ISD
Pearland ISD Board renews Superintendent contract, approves addition to stadium plan

The contract will now reflect the addition of the term starting Jul. 1, 2020 until Jun. 30, 2020.

Big Humphrey's closes Pearland location

Big Humphrey’s Pizza and Italian Restaurant announced that it closed Dec. 21 after serving the Pearland community for 34 years.

Deviled eggs with shrimp (Courtesy Lowens Seafood)
Lowens Seafood restaurant opens in Friendswood

The restaurant offers both seafood and Cajun-inspired dishes.

DATA: A look at residential real estate in Pearland, Friendswood

This month's residential real estate data compares data from November 2018 and November 2019 for five local ZIP codes: 77089,77546, 77578, 77581 and 77584.

Margherita pizza
Taglia Fresh Italian offers fresh, simple dishes

The restaurant serves Italian food—all freshly made, including the restaurant’s bread and pasta, with produce delivered to the restaurant daily.

Hwy. 288
Southbound lanes on Hwy. 288 open; work continues on northbound portion, FM 518

Construction on the Brazoria County portion of Hwy. 288 southbound has been completed with the exits now open.

John Clayton outside Clayton Funeral Homes
Future Broadway Street widening sparks discussion among Pearland business owners

Local service businesses worry about lost space from construction, expansion

Dark Horse Investments office building coming to Friendswood

Dark Horse Investments is building a new office building set to open March 1 at 107 Shadwell Lane, Friendswood.

Club Pilates opens Pearland location

Club Pilates held its soft opening Nov. 18 for its location at 2810 Business Center Drive, Ste. 114, Pearland.

Back to top