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Station Fuels Election Hopes

Arab American News, News report, Khalil AlHajal Posted: Nov 04, 2008

Editors note: A gas station on the corner of Plymouth and Wyoming Roads in Detroit, owned by two brothers who changed the name of the station from Sunoco to Obama three months ago. The station is constantly swarmed with customers who wait in line to fill up there.

DETROIT The presidential campaigns of Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain have bombarded the public with images, slogans and soundbites for months, but in one Detroit neighborhood, even the corner gas station is covered with Obama logos, since its owners decided to repaint and rename the business after their favorite candidate three months ago.

obama"We own Obama Fuels. It's registered in the state," said Sebastian Bazzi, who owns the Obama gas station at the corner of Plymouth and Wyoming Roads along with his brother Samir Bazzi.

It's cost them thousands of dollars, especially since they sell their gas at least ten cents cheaper than any other gas station in the area, but Bazzi said they've done it "for change, for the economy, for everything."

Under no contract with any fuel supplier, the Bazzis had the building and the pumps painted blue and replaced what used to be Sunoco signs with the Obama for Change logo.

Now the pumps are constantly lined with cars waiting to fill up at the station.

Sebastian Bazzi said customers drive all the way from Farmington, Roseville, Southfield, Dearborn and Warren just to fill their tanks at the station dedicated to the Democratic candidate.

"They love it," he said. "They thank us."

The station went from selling 60,000 gallons of gas each month to selling 250,000 gallons since making the change.

But Bazzi said he hasn't made any extra money on the gas because he's selling it at cost, and sometimes at a loss.

"I've been losing for the past three months," he said.

He said the motivation comes from faith he has that Obama will bring the kind of change that could reach the disadvantaged neighborhood his gas station serves.

"He's for the people. He's showing us real change... "If McCain wins, we'll go back in the hole for another four years... The rich get richer and the poor stay poor."

Bazzi said he and his staff have registered 680 people to vote and handed out 2,000 Obama yard signs.

He's planning a barbque outside the station on election day to celebrate and encourage people to vote.

When it's all said and done, Bazzi estimates the entire effort will have cost him about $90,000.

stationGas station owner Sebastian Bazzi changed the name of the Detroit station to Obama to express their support for the Democratic candidate. Bazzi said he's handed out thousands of Obama yard signs and registered 680 people to vote

The 32 year-old, who came to the U.S. from Lebanon as a child 25 years ago, said it's worth it, because, while he's voted in the past, he's never been as excited as he is in this election.

"We need change," he said.

Herb Hughes, 49, who directs traffic at the station's chaotic pumps, said he supports Obama because "he's for education and he's for jobs and he's for helping the poor people."

He said he's helped register people to vote at the station where hundreds clamor every day to buy the cheap gas and express their support for Obama.

"It might be slower on election day because they're all going to be at the polls."


PHOTOS: Khalil AlHajal


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