By Charles Sercombe
And then there were 13.
That’s 13 candidates we’re talking about who will be on the August Primary ballot for three seats on City Council. Two candidates dropped out of the race last week, Don Kosin and Kathleen Bittner.
Not much is known about Kosin, but Bittner’s withdrawal came as a surprise to some. Bittner is well-known in the community through her family’s business, the Polish Art Center, and from her co-organizing last year’s Hamtramck Labor Day Festival.
Bittner said that she realized that trying to organize this year’s festival and run for council would require too much time.
“I just don’t have enough physical time,” she said.
The 20-something-year-old did say, though, she might give a shot at council in a few years.
“I might think about it,” she said about seeking office.
So, with those two candidates out of the race, that leaves voters with the following to choose from:
Cathie Ladzinski Gordon
Mohamed Delawar Hussain
Steve Selim Shaya
All but four of the candidates have sought office before. The new faces include: Dilshad Chowdhury, Roger Lamm, Ian Perrotta and a candidate with the unique name: Showkat Chowdhury.
Councilmember Gordon is the only incumbent running. Councilmembers Catrina Stackpoole and Shahab Ahmed did not pull petitions to seek re-election.
Algazali and Zwolak are former councilmembers. Algazali gave up his chance to seek re-election two years ago and chose instead to challenge Karen Majewski for the mayor’s position. He came close, losing by about 200 votes.
Mayor Majewski said she’s not surprised by some of the candidates running, describing them as “predictable and perennial.”
She said she is “sorry” that Councilmembers Stackpoole and Ahmed, who sided with her on many issues, are not running again.
“Their leadership has been marked by a deep sense of responsibility and willingness to work through wrenchingly hard issues,” Majewski said. “We’ve gone through these hard times together, so I understand their decision to focus their talents elsewhere, and I know they’ll continue to work for the good of Hamtramck in ways other than elected service.”
Out of the field of 13 candidates, only the six top vote-getters will move on to the November General Election, and out of those candidates remaining three will be elected.
This Primary Election will also be a test on whether the Bengali community is still the most powerful voting bloc in the city. There are five Bangladeshi-American candidates on the ballot.
Algazali is a Yemeni-American and appeared to win over a number of Bengali voters in his run for mayor.
There are now three Bengali-Americans on the current council. Besides Ahmed, there are also Mohammed Hassan and Kazi Miah. Councilmember Miah was the highest vote-getter in the last council election.
If past election results in the last few years are any indication, the Bangladeshi-American candidates are poised to sweep the upcoming election. This would signal the end of the longstanding control – heck, call it an ownership — by Polish-Americans of Hamtramck’s government.
For social and political observers, this election has the makings of a major historical moment in Hamtramck.