Breaking news … Majewski defeated as mayor; new council

Amer Ghalib

By Charles Sercombe
Hamtramck has a new mayor.
Amer Ghalib, who has never held elected office, beat incumbent Mayor Karen Majewski, 3,232-1,485, winning 68 percent of the vote.
Ghalib, 41, is the city’s first Yemeni-American to hold the position of mayor in Hamtramck – and he may even be the first Yemeni-American in the country to become mayor of a city.
His victory, which is a historical moment in Hamtramck, is likely to be a bellwether of how future elections go here. The Yemeni community has become a political powerhouse in the city.
That political influence will affect any future controversial ballot proposals, such as gay rights and marijuana retail sales. Both of those issues have been controversial in Hamtramck, and are especially sensitive to the mostly social-issue conservative Yemeni community.
On both of those issues, Majewski has been a supporter.
Majewski, 66, was seeking a fifth term, and will have served 16 years as mayor at the end of her term this Dec. 31. Had she won and served out the term, Majewski would have been the city’s longest-serving mayor.
She is also the last of those of Polish heritage to be the city’s mayor since Hamtramck became a city. Majewski said she wanted one more term to ring in the celebration next year of Hamtramck’s 100th anniversary being an incorporated city.

Karen Majewski

Ghalib ran on a platform of change being needed. While he professed to have “bold” ideas to fix the city’s financial and infrastructure problems, he did not offer specifics, other than he would work with the council and administration.
His critics called him out for not answering their questions about what specifically he would be proposing, and also pointing out that working with the council and city administration are normal functions of the mayor.
Weather-wise, it was a partly sunny day with temperatures in the 40s, although there was a chilly fall breeze, and later in the day a light rain.
Turnout was low, only 36 percent of the registered voters turned out, a total of 4,822. There are a little over 13,000 registered voters.
Most of those votes, 3.218, were from absentee voters. Only 1,604 voters came out to the polls.

Voter turnout was only 36 percent out of the registered voters. Most of the votes cast were by absentee ballot.


City Council election
In the city council race, there are now three new faces that will be taking a seat with the current three councilmembers.
As expected, Khalil Refai was the top vote-getter, just as he did in the August Primary Election.
Following him was Amanda Jaczkowski and then Adam Albarmaki.

Ballot proposals
Also on the ballot were two proposed changes to the city charter. Both passed.
Charter Proposal 1 requires candidates seeking local office to live here for at least one year before they can file to be on a ballot. Charter Proposal 2 now sets a three-term limit for city council and the mayor.
As of Tuesday afternoon, there were over 3,500 absentee ballots. According to sources, there were a number of bundles of absentee ballots found in the city’s drop box – indicating that one or more people were illegally delivering those ballots.
According to state law, only a person connected with a family member, a person of a household, or one otherwise allowed by law, can drop off another person’s absentee ballot.

How the votes went

Mayor’s Race
Amer Ghalib: 3,232
Karen Majewski: 1,485

City council race
Khalil Refai: 1,901
Amanda Jaczkowski: 1,860
Adam Albarmaki: 1,794
Muhith Mahmood: 1,746
Abu Musa: 1,455
Lynn Blasey: 1,141

City Charter proposals
Proposal 1:
Yes: 3,384
No: 898
Proposal 2:
Yes: 2,777
No: 1,522
Posted Nov. 1, 2021

4 Responses to Breaking news … Majewski defeated as mayor; new council

  1. Mark M. Koroi

    November 3, 2021 at 10:05 am

    Dr. Amer Ghalib was gracious and struck a conciliatory tone in his campaign victory speech – thanking Karen Majewski for her years of service as mayor. He was soft-spoken and humble as he addressed a crowd of well-wishers and supporters. He described his early years as a factory worker trying to support a family while studying. He has several college degrees including a medical degree from a Caribbean medical cchool.

    Dr. Ghalib was flanked by Adam Albarmaki and Amanda Jaczkowski for photo opportunities. Jaczkowski, her mom, Lynn Blasey were some of the few females in the crowd.

    The only real shocker was the 68%-32% margin of victory for someone who was a virtual unknown in local political circles when he declared his candidacy.

    Political insiders have described an intent by the newly-elected leaders to make profound changes in city government.

  2. bill meyer

    November 3, 2021 at 10:57 pm

    Ghalib’s victory speech: Tonight is a real example that the American Dream is alive… Our victory tonight is a testament to the possibility that an immigrant like myself, who came here, worked in a factory job at the age of 18, now has the honor and opportunity to serve the community that raised him as your next mayor. I recognize the historic nature of this moment, and know the weight that it will bear. I also know that the gravity of the work ahead will be long and will be tough. But I am committed to uniting and building a better Hamtramck for all people together…I would also like to take this moment to address those who are uncertain about the next four years. Thank you for making the democratic process engaging and competitive. I will make sure that as your mayor I will do my best to represent and serve ALL corners of our community, no matter your faith, your background, who you love, or your political views. I hope to gain your trust and I promise to always lend a listening ear and take your opinions, concerns and criticisms into consideration as we lead a united Hamtramck.
    I would like to extend my thanks to Mayor Majewski for a spirited and rigorous campaign. Madam Mayor, the legacy of your leadership and nearly two decades of service to our community is greatly appreciated. And we are forever grateful for your service to Hamtramck during its toughest years.
    I look forward to working with you to best serve our community. Next year Hamtramck will be celebrating our 100 year anniversary. I want us to think about the last 100 years, all of the hope, all of the struggles and all of the communities that have established their roots here. These two square miles have had a century of incredible stories and history. I am looking forward to start building the next 100 chapters with our diverse and vibrant community. Tonight we celebrate and tomorrow, after a little bit of sleep, we will begin the work of building Hamtramck’s next decade, one that is inclusive, transparent and united! God bless Hamtramck, God bless the State of Michigan, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you!

  3. Mark M. Koroi

    November 7, 2021 at 3:29 pm

    Ten (10) reasons why Karen Majewski lost in her re-election bid:

    (A) the flooding crisis – during Karen’s many years in office there was no plan approved and implemented to alleviate the susceptibility of city residents from the dangers of flooding – there were viable plans that cost monies the city did not have – Hennessy Engineers examined the issue and opined possible solutions but nothing was in place to prevent the catastrophic water damage that some residents sustained last summer;

    (B) the default of the city’s MERS obligations – Karen pushed a millage increase that was really the best option to create revenue needed to fund Hamtramck’s pension funding shortfalls – but voters handily rejected this most most reasonable solution – a major cause of the deficit owed to to MERS was the generous collective bargaining agreements negotiated with the police and firefighters unions many years earlier that created vast obligations to pensioners that the City of Hamtramck now has to fulfill:

    (C) dissatisfaction with the Hamtramck Police Department – the 3-year prison sentence recently handed down to HPD Officer Ryan McInerney and the ongoing federal civil rights lawsuits involving the now-defunct COBRA unit were publicly reported examples of issues facing the department that led to calls for change – however Karen was largely silent on possible solutions – such as creating a civilian police oversight board

    (D) the Pride Flag controversy – homosexuality is frowned upon by many Muslim – and Roman Catholic – adherents, and Karen’s unabashed support of the LGBT community and its Pride Flag being unfurled and hoisted over via resolution of City Council Zussman Park rankled many;

    (E) lead contamination in city water – the city has been aware for years that its lead piping was creating a potential water hazard – but city leaders essentially did little without obtaining a permanent fix due to lack of funds – thus resulting in lead readings in drinking water that now exceed EPA action levels;

    (F) Karen’s age – Karen is 66 years of age and voters chose an opponent one generation her junior plus electing two City Council candidates in their 20s and one in his thirties while rejecting older mayoral and City Council candidates this election cycle;

    (G) no serious absentee ballot controversy – in 2017 Karen unquestionably benefitted from the Michigan State Police public announcement of a vote fraud investigation with impending press conference detailing findings and charges(which NEVER materialized), in 2021 there has been some isolated allegations of absentee vote irregularities – but nothing approaching the hyperbole of 2017 that attempted to cast suspicion at Muslim candidates;

    (H) the black community – black activists picketing Karen’s Tekla Vintage surprised many – and at at least one black resident expressed dissatisfaction with Karen’s response when a gun was pointed at a black motorist who had just gotten into an accident with a DPD police cruiser;

    (I) Dr. Amer Ghalib was an “outsider” candidate – voters were dissatisfied over elected officials bickering over petty issues while gasic city services were deficient and not being addressed – Karen faced an insider candidate in 2017 when she defeated City Councilman Mohammed Hassan buy a 61-39% margin;

    (J) Dr. Ghalib raised more campaign funding and implemented an effective campaign strategy – obtaining key endorsements – such as former mayoral opponents Kamal Rahman and Saad Almasmari that placed Karen at a disadvantage in the historic campaign.

    Dr. Amer Ghalib now has his work cut out for him as he inherits the mayoral seat of a city on a steep decline – much like the City of Highland Park in the last decade.

  4. Resident

    November 7, 2021 at 11:48 pm

    Mr. Koroi – Hamtramck is not in decline. It is a growing city.

    A. Look at the census data. Population has gone up from 22,423 to 28,433, an increase of about 27% over the last decade.

    B. New businesses are opening up on vacant buildings.

    C. High occupancy rate. There is hardly any apartment available for rent.

    D. High property value and still rising.

    You can argue about poor planning and mismanagement on the part of the leadership. You can argue about mediocre property assessment (sky high market value yet taxable value is low even after change of ownership). These things don’t make Hamtramck a declining city. It is growing inspite of these.

    has seen a lot over the last many years

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