Yousef Rabhi is a Washtenaw County commissioner who was first elected in 2010, and currently represents District 8 in Ann Arbor. As of January 2015, he serves as vice chair of the board, after holding the position of board chair from 2013 through 2014. He is volunteer coordinator for the University of Michigan's Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum

Yousef Rabhi at a January 2014 meeting of the Washtenaw County board of commissioners. (Photo courtesy of The Ann Arbor Chronicle.)

In September 2015, Rabhi announced his candidacy for Michigan state representative for District 53 in 2016. The seat is currently held by Democrat Jeff Irwin, who is term-limited.

A Democrat, Rabhi was elected in November 2010 to his first two-year term on the Washtenaw County board of commissioners representing District 11 in Ann Arbor. He started his campaign when he was a senior at the University of Michigan.

His first term began in January of 2011. His election was notable because in the August 2010 Democratic primary, Rabhi prevailed over Mike Fried by one vote – 998 to 997. Fried asked for a recount, which resulted in giving Rabhi a two-vote margin over Fried. Other candidates in that primary were Alice Ralph (280 votes) and LuAnne Bullington (108 votes).

Rabhi won re-election in 2012. Due to redistricting that took effect during that election cycle, the county board shrank from 11 districts to 9. Ann Arbor was previously represented by four commissioners, but starting in January 2013 the city had three main districts – 7, 8 and 9 – in the newly constituted board. Rabhi ran for the seat representing District 8, and was unopposed in the Democratic primary. District 8 covers the south central part of the city, including the Burns Park neighborhood and most of downtown.

Rabhi was elected board chair in 2013 by fellow commissioners, who re-elected him to that post in 2014.

He contemplated running for mayor of Ann Arbor, but announced in early 2014 that he would instead seek a third term on the county board. He was again unopposed in the August 2014 Democratic primary and defeated Republican Jeffrey Gallatin in the November general election.

Early years (from Rabhi's campaign website): 

Yousef was born in Ypsilanti in the Normal Park neighborhood. However, Yousef spent most of his childhood on the north side of Ann Arbor on Upland Drive where his parents still live. Growing up, Yousef had a diverse educational experience. He began his preschool days at Blossom home preschool where he actively participated in the Adopt -A-Stream program.  He attended first grade at Northside elementary but soon moved on to the Ann Arbor Open School. He attended Clague Middle School and is a proud graduate of Huron High School. At the University of Michigan, Yousef earned a Bachelor's of Science in Environmental Science with a specialization in urban planning and ecosystems management.

Yousef has been blessed with a loving and supportive family that extends beyond his immediate relatives. His mother, Peggy Rabhi, is a longstanding local activist and served as the Democratic Party’s Ward Chair for the First ward.  His father, Lounes Rabhi, is a mechanical engineer and his brother is a student at Michigan State. His grandfather was a WWII veteran and a lifelong labor organizer in Detroit.   

Timeline: Yousef Rabhi

Sept. 30, 2015: Enters campaign for Michigan's 53rd State House district with a fundraiser at Bill's Beer Garden.

Jan. 7, 2015: Is elected by his board colleagues to serve as vice chair of the board.

Nov. 4, 2014: Wins general election to represent District 8 on the Washtenaw County board, with 6,008 votes (82.22%) compared to 1,273 votes (17.42%) for Jeffrey Gallatin. Rabhi had been unopposed in the August Democratic primary.

May 2014: Takes job as volunteer coordinator for the University of Michigan's Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum.

January 2013: Is elected by his fellow commissioners to serve as chair of the Washtenaw County board.

Nov. 7, 2012: Is re-elected to serve as District 8 representative with 10,562 votes (77.75%) compared to 2,922 votes (21.51%) for Republican Joe Baublis. Rabhi had been unopposed in the August Democratic primary.

February 2012-May 2014: Works as an outreach assistant for the city of Ann Arbor's natural area preservation program.

Jan. 4, 2012: Is re-elected by his fellow commissioners as chair of the board's working sessions.

Jan. 5, 2011: Is elected by his fellow commissioners as chair of the board's working sessions.

Nov. 2, 2010: Wins the general election for his first two-year term on the Washtenaw County board of commissioners, representing District 11 in Ann Arbor. Rabhi gets 5,663 votes – 75% of the votes – compared to 1,821 for Republican Joe Baublis. 

Aug. 26, 2010: Prevails in a recount of the Aug. 3 primary by two votes. Recounted totals for the four candidates: Yousef Rabhi, 999; Mike Fried, 997; Alice Ralph, 280; LuAnne Bullington, 108.

Aug. 3, 2010: Wins Democratic primary for District 11 in a four-way race against Mike Fried, LuAnne Bullington and Alice Ralph. The initial count shows Rabhi prevailing by one vote over Fried. Rabhi with 998 votes (41.81%) to Fried’s 997 (41.77%). Ralph and Bullington trailed considerably, with 281 and 108 votes, respectively. 

April 2010: Holds official campaign kick-off for Washtenaw County commissioner race to represent District 11, a seat held by fellow Democrat Jeff Irwin, who decided to run for state representative.

2010: Earns a bachelor's of science degree from the University of Michigan.

In the news

Ann Arbor's Yousef Rabhi announces 2016 campaign for state House – MLive, Sept. 14, 2015

With Rep. Irwin term-limited, Yousef Rabhi announces plans to run for seat – Michigan Daily, Sept. 12, 2015

Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners selects new chairwoman – MLive, Jan. 9, 2015

Washtenaw County Board incumbents mostly coast on election night – MLive, Nov. 5, 2014

Rabhi: Not Running for Mayor of Ann Arbor – The Ann Arbor Chronicle, Jan. 9, 2014

Forum: Ann Arbor Districts for County Board – The Ann Arbor Chronicle, Oct. 15, 2012

Ann Arbor Dems Win County Board Seats – The Ann Arbor Chronicle, Nov. 3, 2010

22-year-old Yousef Rabhi elected to Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners –, Nov. 3, 2010

Recounting the Rabhi-Fried Recount – The Ann Arbor Chronicle, Aug. 31, 2010

Yousef Rabhi gains 1 vote in recount, officially wins Washtenaw County Board race by 2 votes –, Aug. 27, 2010

Rabhi, Smith Secure County Board Wins – The Ann Arbor Chronicle, Aug. 4, 2010

Yousef Rabhi kicks off campaign for Washtenaw County commissioner at Tio's Mexican Cafe –, April 28, 2010

LSA senior to enter race for Washtenaw County Commissioner – Michigan Daily, Jan. 14, 2010

Rabhi and 11 members of the campus group Students Organizing for Labor and Equality staged a sit-in in University of Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman’s office demanding that the University strengthen its code of conduct for apparel suppliers, according to an April 3, 2007 article published in The Michigan Daily.


Campaign website:

Contributing to This Page

For some existing timeline elements more precise dates would be desirable. Update strategy: Add timeline elements and news links as history unfolds.