Voter Guide

This is by far one of the hottest elections in the city of Dearborn and Dearborn Heights, where the largest number of Arab Americans are running for office.

The Yamichigan Group provides this information to acquaint the voters with the candidates. We are not endorsing any candidates at this time. Please use your judgment and vote for the most qualified person regardless of ethnicity, land of origin, color, or religion. Candidates who are ready to lead are eager to share specific information about their plans and goals for the office they are running for.

Local elections are the most important act at the ballot box. Election includes primary on August 3 and the general election in November. The primary decides the candidates from political parties, who will contest the general election. A candidate from a major party, such as Republican and Democrats usually wins the election. Since the Dearborn and Dearborn Heights area are mostly Democratic, the winner in the primary is the actual winner.

So, on August 3, you are selecting your local representatives, the people who will make decisions that have an immediate effect on your daily life, such as spending your tax money and providing police, fire, roads, and other services.

We urge you to vote even if you do not like any of the candidates on the ballot. Your participation counts and shows that our area is very active, prompting local and national candidates to pay attention to our community. This is how the system works in America. Yes, money is important, but votes are the targets, and every vote counts.

We are providing the list of candidates starting with the City of Dearborn in Alphabetical order of the last name. We asked all of the candidates to provide information. We did not edit their content to preserve their voice, but we edited for length.

We reached out to all candidates in different ways. Candidates who do not want to share information with the public should not be in public service. We need to know who they are and what they stand for. Good leaders do not miss an opportunity to share their plans and goals for the community if they have a plan, and it has to be specific.

The city of Dearborn

Proposals:

The ballot includes two proposals:

1- Vote Yes on the renewal of the library millage. The money generated from this millage is dedicated to paying for library services in the city, which are very important for our young people. This is not an increase. This is just a renewal and we encourage you to vote yes on this one.

2- Vote Yes on Proposal A. This is a very important proposal, and it calls for reviewing the city’s charter and making changes to it. Any changes to the charter would be reviewed, updated and revised by a Charter Commission elected at a subsequent election. This change is very important because it will give residents the chance to change the form of government we have now to a much better form of government. To move from a strong-mayor form of government to a city-manager form of government. Here why:

Currently, the city of Dearborn is run by a strong-mayor form of government. The city council makes legislative decisions, and the mayor runs the city. The mayor is an elected official, and in most cases, he or she lacks the appropriate training, education, and experience in municipal administration and finance to oversee the delivery of essential community services, according to online research. Also, the temptation is strong to make decisions based on the applicant’s political support rather than his or her professional qualifications, the research shows.

Under a city-manager form of government, the city council is composed of part-time mayor and council, who hire a professional city manager to run the city. That person will be accountable to the council and to the residents and will be evaluated on yearly basis. Using this form of government removes politics out of the day-to-day operation, dilutes the influence of interest groups, gives neighborhoods more voice, and ensures the hiring of professionals to run city departments.

City-manager form of government is the fastest growing trend in the United States and would help the city to function much like a business organization. Through a professional staff, the manager ensures the effective provision of services and enforces the policies adopted by the city council, according to online research.

If you want Dearborn to move forward and be a competitive city, residents must vote yes on proposal A and work to change the form of government that has been around for more than 100 years.

To see a list of cities that have switched to the city-manager form of government and learn more about it, please click here …. 

For more information on polling places, candidates, and absentee ballots, click here to visit the state’s website.

For a list of candidates on the Wayne County website, click here

Mayor Race:

Hussein Berry
Age: 58 years old
Current Job: Realtor, Dearborn School Board Trustee
Previous public office held: Dearborn School Board President
What is the most important issue in the race: Public Safety
How would you address it: Since coming out with a strong message against drag racing and distracted driving, residents have noticed increased enforcement and other candidates have followed my lead as well in discussing the issue. A Berry administration will refocus police toward neighborhoods, increase enforcement on drag racing and distracted driving, use smart technology to alert police to problem areas, and build upon our tradition of community policing and engaging our youth.
Why should people vote for you: My vision, my history as a problem solver, and my experience in both public service and business will serve me well as mayor. I respect the public. I respect their intelligence. That’s why I’ve written out exactly what I will do. My campaign is the only one with a comprehensive list of city-related issues that I’ll be tackling as Mayor. Each voter has the power to change our city and they deserve to know what that change will be. If anyone would like to see my full platform, I encourage them to visit my website at www.OneDearborn.com

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Susan A. Dabaja
Age: 44
Current Job: Attorney, Dearborn City Council President
Previous public office held: Dearborn Council President, 7+ years
What is the most important issue in the race: Budget
How would you address it: I will work to reduce wasteful spending and streamline city services without impacting the day-to-day operations of the city. I will conduct a line-by-line review of the city budget to remove any excess spending and find ways to deliver city services more efficiently. In doing so, I will work to reassess each department’s funding levels, building a budget vertically instead of our current horizontal model.
Why should people vote for you: I am the only candidate running for Mayor that is ready to take on the responsibility and tackle the challenges our city faces, on day one. I have served as Council President for the last 7+ years, and my municipal experience is recent and relevant. As an attorney (17+ years), mother, wife, active volunteer and public servant, I know the issues that our residents care about and I am prepared for this very important role.

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Abdullah Hammoud

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Jim Parrelly
Age: 62
Current Job: Financial Advisor and Entrepreneur.
Previous public office held: No previous public office held
What is the most important issue in the race: Economic Accountability
How would you address it: If we want to keep and attract young families, we need to address this by widening the pie of revenue and managing finances more effectively. We can do that by streamlining services, implementing technology, building more modern housing, and aggressively attracting more business to the city. I will make it a priority to turn Dearborn into a home for tech startups by installing a tech incubator in the city.
Why should people vote for you: The flood exposed that politics, as usual, isn’t working for Dearborn. This happened in 2014, and we let it happen again. How could that be? It’s time to get away from the career politicians and insert fresh energy into City Hall. After being in business for 40 years, I will bring innovation, new energy, and fresh ideas to the government. Also, diversity is our greatest asset, and I will ensure that my administration looks like our city.

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Tom Tafelski

Thomas P. Tafelski
Age: 51
Current Job: Registered Representative
Previous public office held: Council President, President Pro-Tem, Councilman – Dearborn
What is the most important issue in the race: Fiscal Responsibility, Public Safety, Economic Development are 3 issues that are equally important.
How would you address it: Three top issues: Guaranteeing fiscal responsibility and accountability. Controlling spending and work to improve the tax base. Secondly, we need to strengthen and enhance public safety in our neighborhoods and business corridors by enforcing general ordinances and traffic laws. Third, we must revamp our Economic and Community Development Department. We must attract NEW Business into Dearborn, thus enhancing our tax base. Create programs that make city government more user-friendly and welcome business to the city.
Why should people vote for you: Experience, energy, visibility, and a commitment to public service. A history of private-sector success along with my tenure on City Council – as Council President, Council President Pro-Tem, I have always been a strong advocate for neighborhoods, public safety, and our business community. I would make these priorities as Mayor. Dearborn must be more forward-thinking and business-savvy to secure a brighter future, and my experience would enable me to hit the ground running on day one.

 

Kalette Willis

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Gary Waronchak

Gary Woronchak
Age: 66
Current Job: always a public servant
Previous public office held: State Representative, Wayne County Commission (chairman)
What is the most important issue in the race? There are many vital issues, and which one is most important depends on the circumstances of the moment. The issue that touches them all, though, is the openness of the city government. Whether it’s property taxes, or flooding, or something else, our residents need to get straight answers and satisfactory results from their city government.
How would you address it: My administration would usher in a new era of transparency, accessibility and openness in city government. City leaders need to listen and communicate more with residents, with town hall-style meetings and better use of technology. City leaders need to be proactive, anticipating what residents need to know, and addressing that. Our government needs more community conversations as to how and why decisions are made.
Why should people vote for you: I have served Dearborn in public office for 20 years, and was a newspaper editor before that. I know government and, more importantly, I know Dearborn. I have a proven record of accomplishments for Dearborn, in both state and county government. This sort of experience is needed as we are losing a mayor who has served the city for more than 30 years, as council president and mayor.

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Dearborn City Council

Incumbents:

Robert A. Abraham

Age: 54
Current Job: Executive
Previous public office held: Currently serving as Dearborn City Councilman (20 years experience)
What is the most important issue in the race:  Public Safety and Health
How would you address it:  Dearborn residences continue to rank public safety, Police, and Fire, the most important issues in the City.  The next Council and Mayor must address traffic issues, pollution, crime, and the cost of safety for our community. With over 30 years of experience as a CPA, Chief Financial Officer, and Executive in business, I have the experience need to provide leadership and guidance through the annual budget process and ongoing Council duties and responsibilities.
Why should people vote for you:    The City Council needs experience!  I am the only candidate with the experience required to help the Council-members navigate through the challenges and issues that are faced every day.  For a well-rounded Council of 7 individuals, it is important to have a connection to the past, and a vision for the future!  I provide our community both perspectives.

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Erin Byrnes
Age: 35
Current Job: Educator, University of Michigan
Previous public office held: Councilwoman since 2018
What is the most important issue in the race? The single most pressing issue facing Dearborn is the intersection of public health and public safety, brought into sharp focus with the recent flooding and the COVID-19 pandemic.
How would you address it? Investments in our infrastructure are key and will keep residents safe and healthy as we investigate ways to enhance our sewer system while updating Dearborn’s climate action plan to account for and mitigate the impacts of climate change. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the need for greater public health education and direct services throughout our city, and Dearborn must be prepared to offer ongoing support in this area. Air quality is another key public health and safety issue and during my first term, I supported an ordinance to address the pollution that disproportionately impacts our South End neighborhood. Residents who are routinely exposed to fugitive dust and other pollutants not only have their physical health put at risk but have also been forced to leave their homes when incidents occur at nearby industrial facilities that require emergency response. We must pay direct attention to these issues and allocate funding to keep residents safe and healthy and support our first responders who manage the impact of these intersecting issues.
Why should people vote for you: I am running for re-election to City Council to build a Dearborn that works for and welcomes everyone.  Dearborn faces numerous challenges including upgrading our infrastructure, promoting economic development, and enhancing our public and mental health resources. I am committed to finding solutions to our most pressing issues and have a track record of being responsive to residents and working with others to get things done for Dearborn.

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Leslie Herrick

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Michael T. Sareini
Age: 49
Current Job: Automotive Sales Consultant, Attorney
Previous Public Office Held: Current Dearborn City Council President Pro Tem
What is the most important issue in the race: High property taxes and a Declining population.

How would you address it? Dearborn has lost nearly 5,000 residents; it means we must and can do better. To encourage residents to stay and attract new families to come, we need to reduce our taxes and encourage the improvement of properties. We can achieve this by adopting new technology to streamline city services and reduce wasteful spending while maintaining our public safety services. We need to ensure properties are being fairly assessed and work with stakeholders on the state and county levels to bring down more funds to Dearborn.
Why should people vote for you: The council needs proven and experienced leadership. I have worked to ensure greater accountability and transparency in our city government and never shied away from asking the tough questions. I will work to maintain a safe, clean and accessible city for all families. That’s why I’ve been endorsed by both our Police Officers and Firefighters. Dearborn is the city that my family has called home for generations, as I would like it to be for your family. My dedicated leadership, experience and vision will be valuable in moving our city forward.

Challengers:

Ziad Abdulmalik,

Jonathon Akkari,

Ali Alhashemi,

Saeid Mashgari Alawathi

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Kamal Alsawafy
Age: 33
Current Job: Wayne County Small Business Development Manager
Previous public office held: N/A
What is the most important issue in the race: Our small businesses are critical to the economic success of the city but many businesses opt out of launching in Dearborn due to many of the antiquated and convoluted city processes in place as well as red-tape.
How would you address it: As Wayne County’s Business Development Manager, I have worked for hand in hand with our small business community to promote a thriving culture of entrepreneurial spirit and economic development within the City. I have the necessary skills and expertise to help new businesses launch and flourish, ultimately bringing in additional revenue sources and attracting new investments into our City.
Why should people vote for you: Dearborn has given me so much: it is the city I grew up in and the city that I launched my academic and professional career in, but most importantly, it’s the city I call home. I am running for council to be your voice, to listen, to put in the work, and fight for Dearborn. This campaign is about putting people first. This is our moment to build a better Dearborn that works for everyone.

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Houda Berri

 

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Silvio C. Davis
Age: 34
Current Job: Insurance agency- Supervisor
Previous public office held: None
What is the most important issue in the race: Being a voice for everyone in our diverse community, transparency is important. I want to maintain public safety, city services, and work to grow our business districts.
How would you address it: Transparency- It needs to be clear, direct, and accessible to all residents. Technology will be key. Public safety and city service employees need to have a voice. They live, work, and service our community; we need to maintain the highest standards in these areas to ensure our safety and service continues to be the “best of the best”. Teamwork with our economic development, community leaders, chamber of commerce, and residents will make this successful.
Why should people vote for you: Through my years of community service, I have built relationships between city government and community leaders. I have been and will continue to be the voice for our entire community. We will be getting at least three new Council members and a new Mayor. We must not lose that relationship between Council, Mayor’s office, and our community. Together we are stronger, and I will keep that relationship a priority for our residents.

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Kamel Elkadri

Age: 36
Current Job: Director of Dining Services at Henry Ford Village
Previous Office held: None, appointed to Dearborn Police Traffic Commission
What is the most important issue in the race: Transparency, Equality and Availability.
How would you address it: I am a very transparent and honest person and I will always be available to anyone. I can be seen and approached in the public, reached by phone or email. Unfortunately, city services are not currently equal around the city and the city is divided between South, East and West but to me, Dearborn is ONE and I will lead by that principle.
Why should people vote for you?: Dearborn is family, I was born, raised, educated and started my career and family in Dearborn. I want this same experience for everyone. I am dedicated to Dearborn, the citizens and the businesses, I will work for you and the best interest of all stakeholders. I will work hard to keep ALL our current residents and businesses but also work to attract new residents and businesses.

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Lola Elzein
Age: 35
Current Job: Business Owner, Venture Title Agency
Previous public office held: N/A
What is the most important issue in the race; Economic and Small Business Development
How would you address it: I would work together with my council colleagues and the new administration to aggressively recruit anchor businesses into the city. I would call upon the Economic Development Director to present a plan to the public for small business grant development, recruiting developers for Village Plaza, the old Hyatt Regency, and the industrial area at Eugene and Porath. I will work with the administration to help incentivize businesses that want to locate in Dearborn.
Why should people vote for you: I know what it takes to get things done and I have a passion for service. Our residents need a council that will put aside the politics and will work with the new administration for the overall advancement of our city. I am passionate with an unmatched work ethic, that is how I built a successful company from the ground up. My education, real estate, and business background make me uniquely qualified to tackle our challenges.

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Gary Enos
Age: 54
Current Job: Manager/Cook at Falls Sports Lounge
Previous public office held: Never held public office
What is the most important issue in the race: The lack of leadership and direction.
How would you address it: It’s why I’m running.
Why should people vote for you: All the decisions I vote on will put the community first.

 

 

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Khodr Farhat

Age: 28
Current job
: advocate, public speaker, and activist
Previously held office: no. However, I ran for school board last year
Most important issue in the race: I think that the most important issue is the lack of transparency and accountability. Our residents are not happy with what is going on in that regards especially after the disaster that hit us hard recently. If elected, I pledge to fill the gap between the city council and the administration, as well as the public. Our residents deserve to be aware of everything going on.
Why should people vote for you: I hope to earn residents’ votes because I am a voice of reason. I will bring new perspectives and ideas. Most importantly, as an advocate, I never back down from any good fight. Therefore, rest assured that I will not back down from any fight for the betterment and empowerment of our city and residents. I will not be there for the popularity contest, rather, my job is going to be simple, that is, be the people’s voice and fight for their best interest.

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Mustapha Hammoud
Age: 27
Current Job: Engineer at Ford Motor Company – 8 years. Currently in Program Control, Electrified Powertrain Engineering
Previous public office held: None
What is the most important issue in the race: Our Local Taxes
How would you address it: Our taxes are too high, and the city has not been using money effectively. I plan to have our budget re-evaluated to find savings while allocating resources to invest in the future of our city. We can find opportunities to reduce tax burdens through state and federal grants as we fix our broken infrastructure. Intelligent planning and policies can make our city a better place to do business and live while increasing our tax base.
Why should people vote for you: We need well-informed, committed, and honest elected officials who are ready to make the necessary decisions to ensure we’re building a welcoming and sustainable Dearborn. I am independent-minded, and never afraid to speak up. As an engineer at Ford, I believe in science, innovation, and preparation for the future. No matter who the new mayor is, you can count on me to hold the administration accountable and push for real solutions.

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Samraa Luqman
Age: 38
Current Job: Legal Administrative Specialist & Real Estate Agent
Previous public office held: none
What is the most important issue in the race: Accountability. Almost all of our problems; high taxes, flooding, environmental injustices, cuts in public services, etc are rooted in this.
How would you address it: People need to start being held accountable. If lies are propagated by a city official, there is evidence of incompetence or negligence, if a person is not doing their job, if grave mistakes are made by individuals, then they need to be held accountable. There should be no back-scratching in government, no quid pro quos, no turning a blind eye or willful ignorance. This democracy was founded on the principles of checks and balances and this Council has continued to be complacent and acquiescent to a strong Mayor. This needs to stop. The Council must assert its powers in disapproving appointments, scrutinizing budgets, and rejecting proposals as is their right according to the City’s Charter.
Why should people vote for you: I’ve been fighting for residents for decades. I’ve gained experience in working with the City to bring green infrastructure, to contest and object to projects and ordinances, have been fighting the state for environmental justice, and have a breadth of valuable experience and knowledge. I have in the past and continue to research issues, laws, and what other cities have been successful in with regards to resolving traffic, revenue, and recreational issues. I’m committed to restoring public trust in our City and departments by enforcing ordinances currently on the books and ensuring that people are held accountable when appropriate. This accountability is what is needed to get the city back on track!

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Khalil Othman

 

Ken Paris

 

The city of Dearborn Heights

Mayor Race:

Bill Bazzi

 

Anthony Camilleri

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Denise Malinowski Maxwell
Current Job:  Chair, Dearborn Heights City Council since 2018
Most Important Issue:   Tie – Flooding and Public Safety
How would you address them:
1- Flooding: Flooding is a regional problem, and will likely require a regional solution.  I will work with federal, state and local officials to explore regional solutions successfully employed in other areas of the state.  In the short term, I will explore the feasibility of “Smart Sewers” that include sensors and valves to detect when the system is in danger of overflowing and redirect wastewater so that less of it escapes the sewers. Cincinnati has also successfully employed “smart sewers.” Depending on costs, “smart sewers” might be the short or long-term solution to our flooding problem.
2- Retention of Law Enforcement Personnel. Recent studies have shown that police officers are retiring at a rate 45% greater than last year.  Resignations are up nearly 20%.  Lack of support and downright hostility for law enforcement is responsible for this trend.  It is incumbent upon the City administration to make clear that “defunding the police” is the most idiotic and most dangerous idea to come along in a long, long time.  Additionally, our labor relations policy must signal that we value our experienced police force and retention is a top priority.  The same goes for our firefighters.
Why should people vote for you: I am of the people and for the people.  I have a long and deep connection to the City and its residents.  That connection was forged long before my first successful run for elective office.  That connection is authentic, not something trotted out for political gain.  I want to be the mayor that knows the residents’ interests and has their best interests at heart, they should vote for me.
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