Jesse Sbaih and his family members
BY SHADI MATAR
Las Vegas has often been called the “City of Lights” but these days Jesse Sbaih is shining just as brightly. His story is one of hard work, dedication, and giving back to the community. He also could be making history later this year as the first Arab American immigrant and Muslim American immigrant to be elected to Congress.
Born in Jordan, Sbaih moved to the U.S. at age 11 with his family. They ultimately settled in Virginia where Sbaih was quickly accepted by his classmates. “When my family first moved to Virginia I was in 6th grade and carried a dictionary with me because I was still learning English. One day the school administration, on their own, came together and got me a tutor. My friends would help me look through the dictionary and learn new words.”
In order to help his family financially, Sbaih washed dishes at an Italian restaurant when he was only 12. Motivated by a strong work ethic he earned a scholarship to the University of Miami for his undergraduate education and another scholarship for the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego. From Virginia to Miami to San Diego and finally Nevada, Sbaih says that he’s had a chance to experience different communities across the U.S. “I have not been anywhere where the goodness and spirit of the American people has not predominated.”
Sbaih is proud of his heritage because he knows that Arab Americans have made a large impact on this country and he wants to be a part of that history. “Arabs and Americans are not so different, yes we may eat different foods but at the end of the day we want the same things; peace, happiness, and the opportunities to do great things.”
After completing law school, Sbaih was given an opportunity to work in Nevada with Justice Cliff Young. Sbaih became a clerk for the Nevada Supreme Court before founding his own law firm which has been active in southern Nevada for more than a decade. One major reason Sbaih decided to practice law is that he wants to give back to the country that has given so much to him.
Sbaih, his wife Dr. Sameera Sbaih, and their three children reside in Henderson, Nevada and have been active in the Arab American community for many years. Sbaih has been pleased to receive their backing in turn. “The Arab American community’s support has been tremendous and people are really excited about the campaign. We really think we can make history as the first Arab immigrant to be elected into Congress. I could not have asked for a better community to be by my side.”
As a candidate for Nevada’s 3rd district Sbaih wants the voters to know that he is a proud Arab American and that he will never shy away from his heritage. “We are a nation of nations where people from different backgrounds come together, do great things, and give back to this country that has given so much to them.” Among other things, Sbaih wants to bring more clean energy jobs to the 3rd district and wants to make sure that all citizens have access to healthcare and college education.
The 3rd district will be heading to the polls on June 14 for the Nevada primary where Sbaih hopes to have a big turnout from the community.