By Charles Sercombe
If only Hamtramck government could forever stay like it was on Sunday afternoon.
Nice, agreeable, optimistic, everyone in it for the good of the city, no personal agendas. So far, the honeymoon is sweet.
That was the upbeat message newly elected officials gave during their inaugural ceremony. Over 100 people attended the ceremony at the public library, many of them from the Bangladeshi community, obviously proud that two more of their community members now sit on City Council.
For Mayor Karen Majewski, who four years ago made history by being the first woman elected to that position, it was a chance to reflect. A lot has happened, she said, in those four years.
“The last year has been especially hard for all of us, as we watched the unimaginable collapse of the industry that created the Hamtramck we know and love …,” she said, referring to the auto industry and the closing down of the American Axle plant.
Although many in the city went through hard financial times and still face a daunting future, Majewski said Hamtramckans know how to survive.
“Many people have remarked on the spirit of our city–about our determination in the face of adversity, about our stubborn refusal to give in and give up, about our willingness to roughen our hands in honorable labor,” Majewski said. “We take pride in that identity.”
Besides the strength of the people, Majewski said, Hamtramck also has something extra going for it.
“Hamtramck has good bones–intact neighborhoods, walkable streets, a lively downtown, close proximity to the cultural and educational institutions of our largest neighbor, an exciting ethnic mix–you’ve heard all this before, but maybe you need to be reminded of how valued these resources are considered outside of Hamtramck, and what a workable foundation they give us, especially as Southeast Michigan re-crafts itself,” she said.
As for the year to come, Majewski sounded hopeful.
“2010, in fact, looks to be a year of exciting projects, for the city and for the region. And we are all participants in this process,” she said.
The most rousing and emotional speech was given by newcomer Kazi Miah, who thanked a dozen or so people and dignitaries in the audience and on the dais as well as recounted the poverty his family overcame when they first moved here.
Miah said he will approach working with his fellow councilmembers with the same philosophy he uses as coach for his basketball team.
“We’re not going to make this personal,” he said. “We’re going to work for the betterment of the city. We are going to agree to disagree. …”
At the end of his 10-minute speech, the audience whistled and clapped with approval.
Mohammed Hassan also promised to support his fellow city officials but waded further into specifics about what he would like to see happen. He called for more diversity in the city workforce and also a reduction in the number of city employees if the city needs to find savings in its budget.
Hassan also called for the end of home inspections unless the condition of a house is “not sanitatious.”
Former mayor Tom Jankowski said that it’s time to stop focusing on individuals in the city and concentrate instead on the city itself.
“We really need to nurture this city,” he said.
Jankowski also invited the public to come back to him a year from now and “let me know how I’m doing.”
The council’s first regular meeting is next Tuesday. In the upcoming weeks the council will be asked by City Manager Bill Cooper to decide on what specific budget cuts he has proposed should be taken.