By Charles Sercombe
Bet you didn’t know there’s an election coming up in August.
Yeah, this election season is that boring. It’s almost like the candidates don’t care, or maybe they’re doing a stealth campaign.
There are hardly any signs, and we’ve seen very little campaign literature. But, it’s a good guess things will pick up in the coming weeks as we get closer to the Aug. 2 Primary Election for three City Council seats.
The election season has produced one mystery moment. Candidate Abu Mahfuz says he lives at 2424 Neibel, however, at least one candidate, Steve Shaya, questions whether he actually lives there.
The Review went to the address, a lower flat, and found it looking like it is empty.
A woman living in the upstairs flat said she never heard of Mahfuz and said no one is living in the lower flat.
The City Clerk’s Office said Mahfuz registered as a new Hamtamck resident in April through the Secretary of State’s Office. He told the Secretary of State that he was moving from his Detroit address on Klinger St.
The question of residency is not a new issue in Hamtramck elections. The question has been raised a number of times throughout Hamtramck’s colorful history of elections and politics.
Incumbent Councilmember Cathie Gordon almost faced formal proceedings over whether she truly lived in Hamtramck or in Sterling Heights, where she resided before she won election.
Her fellow councilmembers halted proceedings after working out a deal with Gordon.
There is also a question of where exactly Councilmember Mohammed Hassan lives. According to city records, he says he lives at 2434 Neibel, which coincidently is next-door to the address that Mahfuz says he lives at.
The 2434 Neibel house that Hassan claims as his residency appears to be empty. Hassan has refused to answer questions posed by The Review over his residency.
And in a sort of related matter, Candidate Anam Miah has located his campaign office on Conant, but on the Detroit side of the Hamtramck border. There’s no wrongdoing there, but it does perhaps send out a mixed message.
Perhaps the most laughable accusation of a city official being a non-resident occurred in the 1990s. Former Councilmember Mike Witkowski’s residency status was challenged, but it turned out his accuser, a fellow councilmember, either accidently or purposely mixed up Witkowski with another person of the same name who lived outside of Hamtramck.
Ah, but for now, tales of Hamtramck’s political battles will be left for another time.
Moving on to the literature department, some of what is being promised could make your eyes roll.
Let’s start with candidate Anam Miah. According to his business card-sized literature being handed out, he will “revitalize our school system.” That would be great, but unfortunately the Council plays no role in the city’s schools.
He might instead want to run for a seat on the School Board, which does have direct control of the school district.
Miah also must have taken a cue from Gov. Rick Snyder. Miah promises to “re-invent our community.” Snyder, of course, used the phrase “reinvent Michigan” in his recent campaign.
Hey, it’s better than the over-used variation of the “time for a change” mantra that politicians love to use.
If you listen to what candidate Dilshad Chowdhury promises, you’d think money must grow on trees. His literature says he will not only reduce taxes and water bills, he will also “put more fire fighters and police to protect & prevent crimes.”
And, he promises to “bring more aids from the state & federal.”
Candidates, here’s a tip on how to better communicate to voters: Brush up on your English skills — or at least have someone proofread your communications.
Candidate Showkat Chowdhury is also promising to “lower” city taxes while at the same time providing more “police protection.”
OK, candidates, here’s the deal: How in the world can you cut taxes and also be able to afford more police and fire protection? Sorry, it really can’t be done.
Well, maybe it can be done by contracting those services with another agency. No one has really looked closely at this option, and no one can say how much it would save the city’s budget.
But that’s a whole other can of worms.
Although the campaign season is sleepy for now, maybe things will liven up at the “Meet the Candidates Night” on July 13 at People’s Community Services.