Voter Guide

The 2021 general election is one of the hottest elections in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights Arab-American history, where many Arab Americans are on the ballot.

The Yamichigan Group provides this guide 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. Effective leaders are eager to share specific information about their plans and goals for the city.

Local elections are crucial. When you vote on November 2, you are selecting your local representatives, 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. Money is essential in a campaign, but votes are crucial, and every vote counts.

We are providing the list of candidates 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

Charter Commission. Voters approved a ballot proposal in August to review the city’s charter and make changes to it.  The commission is composed of nine members.

The candidates are Albert Abbas, Hassan F. Abdallah, Gussan Abdulkarim, Richard AlAziz, Elizabeth Bailey, Mark J. Dawdy, Laura Dudgeon, Sharon L. Dulmage, Hussein Hachem, Sam Hamade, Timothy S. Harrison, Cheryl D. Hawkins, Kimberly Ismail, Jamil Khuja, Michale Kuentz, Jim O’Connor, L. Glenn O’kray, Fatmeh Saad, Mansour Sharha, L. Gail Walls, Rami Younes and Jacklin Zeidan.

Tax increase millage

The city is asking residents to increase the operating levy from 15 to 17.75 mills for three years. The increase translates to $2.75 per $1,000 in taxable value. This is a tax increase.

We regret the language used in the tax-increase request, which voters can easily interpret as a reduction. Asking the residents for a tax increase should be the last resort after exhausting all means possible and explaining the need to the residents for such an increase.

It is your money, and you make the decision. For more on that, visit the city’s website

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

Mayor Race:

Abdullah Hammoud
Age: 31
Current Job: State Representative for Michigan House District 15
Previous public office held: State Representative for Michigan House District 15
What is the most important issue in the race?  There are countless issues to tackle within the city – all equally important- but, as Mayor, we will first work to establish a line of communication with residents and ensure an accessible, trusted, and capable team is built to move our city forward. Building trust and transparency will be a key goal for my first days in office.
How would you address it?  We will make available information and resources in multiple languages, update Dearborn’s website to ensure that useful & needed information is accessible, hold town halls and coffee hours across our city, and meet people where they are – that is accessible leadership. We will then work to bring forward solutions to lower property taxes and enhance city services, make our roads and neighborhoods safer from reckless drivers, improve our water and drainage infrastructure, and provide stronger support for our small businesses.
Why should people vote for you: Our hometown needs leadership where people and community come first. My campaign is about our Dearborn community, our families, and our priorities. I am running for Dearborn Mayor to be a champion for our children who want to breathe clean air; for our seniors who need a helping hand to stay independent; and for our neighborhood businesses who are fighting to keep their doors open. I want to tackle the issues that matter, like lowering property taxes, improving our water drainage infrastructure, and ensuring the public safety of our community. I hope to earn your vote on November 2nd.

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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:

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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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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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
What is the 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
Age: 40
Current Job: Information Technology Security Manager for Stellantis (formerly known as FIAT Chrysler Auto.), the fourth largest Auto company in the world.
Previous Public Office Held: None
What is the most important issue in the race? Flooding: Establish an independent commission to determine the root cause and create a detailed disaster response plan. Our City Council has failed us time and time again, whether it’s repeated flooding that has devastated our neighborhoods or crumbling infrastructure. In my professional capacity, I worked as the Disaster Recovery Lead for FIAT Chrysler Automobile for a few years and I know what it takes to build a solid Disaster Recovery Plan.
How would you address it? As your City Council member, I will leverage industry best practices to find out what went wrong on June 25th. I will call for an independent investigation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Understanding exactly the root cause of the issue is a fundamental element to move forward on fixing this issue. Based on the recommended solutions, I along with my colleagues will be able to make an informed decision on how to proceed and move forward.
Why should people vote for you? I am running this grassroots campaign to serve you, the Dearborn resident, and not any special interest or the Political Establishment. It is time we will have a Champion who will fight for ALL Dearborn residents. A Champion with a demonstrated ability to solve problems. Join me as we fight for cleaner air, reduced taxes, and better infrastructure. Let us unleash that pioneering and innovative spirit unique to our American DNA, and make Dearborn the greatest city in the world! And above all, let us unite our great city based on the love of God, Country and family. I am kindly asking for one of your seven votes on November 2n.

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Ken Paris
Age: 65
Current Job:  Retired police and command officer that served both Dearborn Police and UM-Dearborn Campus Police Departments. I am currently employed as Armed Corporate Security for AAA Michigan.
Previous public office held:  None.
What is the most important issue in the race:  How the City, State, and Federal Government addresses ongoing flood issues will be a major issue for years to come. However, the most frequently stated concern of residents is the need to address long-term aggressive and reckless driving and the fear of escalating crime. Isn’t it time we had someone with prior law enforcement experience on our Dearborn City Council?
How would you address it: Serious crime and traffic safety issues need long-term solutions. We don’t see police often enough in our neighborhoods. Police have to be provided with sufficient resources and personnel to do their jobs. A sustained traffic safety unit needs to address serious traffic safety problems by using accident causation and complaint-driven data for priority-based enforcement. Consultants, engineering and the use of traffic calming measures can help address our long-term traffic safety problems. See #dearborntrafficsafety.
Why should people vote for you: I served Dearborn Police and UM-Dearborn Public Safety as a police and command officer. I’ve attended the vast majority of City Council and related meetings for years and I am quite educated and informed about issues that concern Dearborn residents. You can learn more about our campaign on our website https://kenparis4council.com/ and FB Campaign page: https://www.facebook.com/paris4council/. I’ve reported about a number of city issues and concerns on my Dearborn Eye FB page: https://www.facebook.com/Dearborneye

 

The city of Dearborn Heights

Mayor Race:

Incumbent

Bill Bazzi
Age:
Current Job: Mayor, Dearborn Heights
Previous public office held: City Councilman
What is the most important issue in the race? One of the most important issues is the infrastructure and flooding which has been plaguing our city.
How would you address it? I have been working with the City Engineer on a comprehensive flood mitigation plan involving the creation of a detention basin on parts of the Warren Valley golf course property addressing the Rouge River. In addition, my administration and I have been working closely with Wayne County and holding strategic discussions with local, state, and federal stakeholders regarding the Ecorse Creek. Part of the flood mitigation plan includes the preliminary step of removing log jams and assessing sedimentation issues throughout the Creek, to help improve flow and alleviate back-up and street flooding. This will be the first stage in implementing the long-term solution to the Ecorse creek flood problem.
Why should people vote for you? As I hit the ground running since I became Mayor on January 26th of this year, there is more work to be done. Although I would be honored to be elected and continue my service as Mayor, it is not about me—this is and always has been about the people. I would welcome the opportunity to continue working with our excellent administration and new team members, city council, and residents, to bring vital priorities to complete fruition. These areas include: Public Safety; City Service; Flooding and Infrastructure; Business and Economic Development; and Blight and Waste Removal.

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Denise Malinowski Maxwell
Age:
Current Job:  
Chair, Dearborn Heights City Council since 2018
What is the most Important Issue in the race:  
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.

City Council Race

Incumbents

Zouher Abdel-Hak
Age: 69
Current job: Entrepreneur
Previous public office held:  Zoning board of appeal, housing commission, interim treasurer, appointed council member.
What are the most important issues? Flood is #1 priority, charter amendments,
Finish the forensic audit and improve city services.
How would you address them?   I will work with my colleagues and the administration to find the best solution and the funds to solve these issues and make sure we spend taxpayer money wisely, and be transparent.
Why should people vote for you? This is my Home, we must protect our property value and our community by serving all residents as best as we can. I have attended the City Council meetings for 17 years, learned the budget, the departments functions, the charter and watched for years the mishandling , commingling of funds and the poor  performance of previous council . I ask for your trust and vote.

 

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Bob Constan
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Tom Wencel

Challengers

Hassan Ahmad
Age: 43
Current Job: Associate Broker
Previous public office held: None
What is the most important issue in the race and how would you address it: Recent flooding has been a major issue in our city and surrounding cities and proper and effective solutions need to be implemented, immediately.
Hiring a professional third party entity to conduct an independent study of our infrastructure allows us to ensure the most effective solutions will be brought to discussion and gives leadership the ability to make well informed decisions that allow for a comprehensive plan that benefits all and creates a viable and durable solution.
Why should people vote for you: The desire to help others was instilled in me at a young age and community service is something I am passionate about.  I am not running for office alone, as I am advancing this dream of civil and public service for family and all families residing in our Dearborn Heights community.  My bid for City Council is the ideal opportunity to invest my experience, time and efforts to help advance our City and families. I strongly believe that my educational background, extensive work experience and relationships with diverse communities, strong ethics and passion for public service make me the right candidate for this office; which I take very seriously and have tremendous respect for.
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Nancy Bryer
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Rachel LaPointe
Age: 35
Current Job: Full-time parent and activist
Previous public office held: None
What is the most important issue in the race? The most important and urgent issue is the continued flooding. We can not control the weather or climate change, but we can control our sewer system and we can push the county to maintain the creek. Another part of the problem is that residents hear lots of ideas, but we never see actual action being taken and we don’t see preparation in advance of the next flood.

How would you address it:  Dearborn Heights is tired of talking about flooding. We need to complete projects, especially the attainable small-scale actions. We must get every sewer cleaned, ensure the county actually maintains the Ecorse Creek, create rain gardens and detention basins on city-owned property, and most importantly we need to communicate consistently so our residents know what the plan is, how we’re accomplishing the plan, and when the plan is complete.
Why should people vote for you: When I vote I ask myself: Does this candidate care about me? I hope that every resident could confidently answer that with a “YES” about me. My strengths in positivity, communication, and strategic thinking are exactly what the city needs right now. My skills in research and investigation ensure that every decision I make is backed up by facts and data. I look forward to serving and I can’t wait to get to work!

Partial Term

Incumbent

Moe Baydoun

Challenger

Ned Apigian

 

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