Seven Turkish Americans Running for Elected Office

Turkish Coalition of America reports that there are seven members of the Turkish American community who are now running for elected office in 2017-2018. Turkish Americans running for office: Hacibey Catalbasoglu of New Haven, CT; Judge Jay Karahan of Houston, TX; and Lauren Arikan of Jarrettsville, MD., Kemal Bozkurt of Lawrence, MA; Aylin Acikalin Maklansky of New Orleans, LA; Tayfun Selen of Chatham, NJ; and Ben Bartlett of Berkeley, CA.

Kemal Bozkurt

Turkish American Kemal Bozkurt is running for School Committee District A in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He previously served on the Lawrence School Committee in 2015. The municipal preliminary election will be held on September 26, 2017 and the municipal election will be held on November 6, 2017.

Kemal currently serves as the Assistant Director of the Lawrence Public Library and has worked as a reference librarian for the past 15 years. He has been elected as state delegate to the Massachusetts Democratic Party four times. Kemal also previously served on the zoning board in Lawrence for 12 years. He has lived in Lawrence for the past 19 years and is a loving husband and father to three children.

Kemal is currently pursuing his second Master’s degree in Library Information Science from Syracuse University. He holds an Master’s degree in Banking and Insurance from Marmara University and Bachelor’s degrees from both Seljuk University and Anadolu University.

Aylin Acikalin Maklansky

Turkish American Aylin Acikalin Maklansky is a Democratic candidate in her first run for public office for the District A seat on the New Orleans City Council in Louisiana. Her primary election is on October 14, 2017.Aylin has been the trusted aide to senior Department of Defense officials, U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and the Hon. Nadine Ramsey, a former Civil District Court Judge and current District C City Councilmember in New Orleans.  

Aylin has focused much of her career on public service and consumer advocacy in government and as a private attorney. She led the effort to form the Council's first Environmental Advisory Committee to implement the Climate Action Plan and to study issues such as reducing barriers to Electric Vehicle Ownership and increased recycling and composting. She’s worked on issues related to coastal restoration, environmental justice, criminal justice reform, land use and zoning, domestic violence, equal pay for women, workforce development, consular affairs and youth services.

Aylin Maklansky graduated from Ben Franklin High School, George Washington University (BA, International Affairs) and Tulane Law (JD, Environmental Law). She has spent extensive time in Turkey throughout her life including studying at Bosphorus University and Middle East Technical University.

Tayfun Selen

Turkish American Tayfun Selen of Chatham, New Jersey has been nominated to run as the Republican candidate to fill a vacant seat on the Chatham Township Committee. The winner will serve the remaining two years of Committee member John Maurer’s term. Maurer, a Republican, resigned his seat in late August. The township voted unanimously to appoint Tayfun to fill the seat temporarily until the election on November 7, 2017. Tayfun currently serves as Chairman of the Chatham Township Republican Committee and previously ran for New Jersey State Assembly in 2013 and 2015.

Tayfun is an architect, accountant, and businessman actively involved in the community. In addition to supporting several local charities, he serves on the Advisory Board for Montclair State University’s School of Business and previously held a seat on his local Board of Adjustment. He holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Architecture from Istanbul Technical University and an MBA from Montclair State University in New Jersey.

Ben Bartlett

Ben Bartlett, married to Turkish American Yelda Bartlett, is running for California State Assembly District 15. The primary election will be held on June 8, 2018 and the general election will take place on November 6, 2018. Ben currently serves as a Councilmember on the Berkeley City Council District III in Berkeley, California. Working with Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín and his colleagues on the council, Ben drafted and passed numerous initiatives to address issues such as the housing crisis, homelessness, and inequality.

Prior to serving in the City Council, Ben served on numerous boards and commissions. He built his career as an environmental lawyer uniting industry and government to address climate change, alleviate poverty with green jobs, and expand opportunity for everyone. A South Berkeley native who grew up in a culture of community service, Ben is a respected leader in the community and is also strong supporter of the Turkish American community.

Hacibey Catalbasoglu

Turkish American Hacibey 'Haci' Catalbasoglu is running as an Independent in the November 7, 2017 general election for the Board of Alders for Ward 1 in New Haven, Connecticut. Haci is 19 years old and a junior at Yale University. He is the youngest Turkish American to ever run for public office. If elected he will be the youngest member of the current Board of Alders and one of the youngest Alders to ever serve on the Board.

As the son of Turkish immigrants who own a pizza restaurant in New Haven, Haci is campaigning to support small businesses and entrepreneurs as well as defend the city’s immigrant community. Additionally, his platform calls for a stronger connection between students and the local community since a majority of constituents in Ward 1 are students at Yale.

In 2017, Haci was nominated to serve on the city’s Commission on Homelessness after many years of volunteering and advocacy for the New Haven Livable City Initiative through New Haven’s [email protected] program. He was recommended for confirmation to the Commission by a unanimous vote of the Board of Alders’ Aldermanic Affairs Committee on April 24, 2017. As a member of the Commission, Haci is tasked with advising New Haven Mayor Toni Harp on how to actively combat the homelessness epidemic in New Haven. In the summer of 2016, Haci also had the opportunity to intern for U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT).

Judge Jay Karahan

A principled and dedicated public servant, Turkish American Judge Ceyhun ‘Jay’ Karahan has served on the Harris County Criminal Court No. 8 in Houston, Texas for 14 years. He is seeking a fourth term and will be running in the Republican Primary on March 6, 2018. The general election will be held November 6, 2018. Since 2003, Judge Karahan has managed over 75,000 cases, presided over 550 trials, and supervised more than 12,000 probationers.

Judge Karahan is a native of Tampa, Florida and moved to Texas in 1979 to study law at South Texas College of Law. As both a state and federal prosecutor, he tried over 100 serious felony cases to jury verdict. He is licensed to practice before the Texas Supreme Court, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Judicial Circuit. Judge Karahan is one of two Turkish Americans currently serving in elected office.

Lauren Arikan

Lauren Arikan, wife of Turkish American Yusuf Arikan, is running for the House of Delegates in Maryland’s 7th District in the Republican Primary on June 26, 2018. The Arikans live with their three children in Jarrettsville, Maryland on their 8-acre farm where they raise poultry and dairy goats. They own and manage an accounting and staffing firm, Arikan Accounting. Lauren also owns and operates an investment company, Arikan Investments.

Lauren is a member of the Harford County Republican Women’s Club and the Maryland Federation of Republican Women. She has spent the last several years regularly testifying in Annapolis against legislation that harms parental rights. Community service is a huge part of Lauren’s life. As a teen, she was a Girl Scout Gold Award recipient. In 2014, she founded Birth Circle of Baltimore, which is a monthly community group that offers free peer support to women during their childbearing years and beyond. She also served on the board of Maryland Friends of Midwives, a local 501(c)3, that supports midwifery in Maryland. The general election in Maryland will be held on November 6, 2018.

Last modified onFriday, 15 September 2017 15:25