By John Ulaj
That’s right: “Advancing Hamtramck.” It’s my new motto. It is also the slogan by which I hope to help transform this city.
The main definitions of the word “advancement” include, “to move forward; proceed,” “to improve or make progress,” and “to grow or rise in importance, and/or status.” Thus, synonyms for “advancement” are (1) progression; (2) development; (3) acceleration; and (4) betterment.
But before I expound further on the significance of these four words, I wish to make an important announcement.
Hello, Fellow Hamtramckans!
My friends, today I am declaring my candidacy to be your next Mayor of Hamtramck.
I’ve been planning my run for mayor for the past few years. I see that our city is in desperate need for leadership and innovation — the very qualities that can drive us ultimately down the road to success and prosperity.
I am often asked whether Hamtramck can survive, and furthermore remain a sovereign entity. The answer to that question — of course — is that it must. And it will!
Progression, Development, Acceleration, and Betterment will be the four building blocks of my campaign. They will form the foundation of, and be the driving force behind, my plan to recreate Hamtramck.
You may well be asking yourself, why are you running? What is your specific plan for the city? Do you have the experience that is needed to propel us forward?
Being raised in Hamtramck, and living here all my life; having attended three separate public schools from kindergarten on up (Dickinson East, Kosciuzsko, and Hamtramck High), and graduating in 1991, I have deep, deep ties to this wonderful city.
I remember being a kid growing up in the 80’s here in town, and playing in the alleys — how clean and proud this city once was. I want to restore the pride in our city.
With my experience both in commercial development and as an active real-estate broker, I understand what it takes to increase our tax base: strong economic development. I believe that empowering small businesses is the key to keeping Hamtramck a strong city, with its own special and specific identity. Which brings me to the point where I explain my plan for the city.
And that is this: by the end of my first term in office, I plan to have helped create the conditions for your property values to increase by 25%.
This will, obviously, bring more revenue into the city coffers in turn, thus helping insure our public safety, the viability of our schools, and the overall desirability of Hamtramck — and without the necessity of asking voters for one more dime in taxes.
Preserving public safety must be our first priority, and that means keeping both our police and fire departments our own. As a former chairman of the city assessor’s board, I am familiar with the factors that are used to valuate properties, and how these values then impact the city’s overall financial picture. Increasing property values will make the city stronger and healthier.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of any neighborhood or town, and Hamtramck’s most successful businesses are known all over the greater Detroit metro area. That ready identification is one of the starting points in what will be the major marketing of our city to the suburbs, and beyond. Increased tourism, from both near and far, will also help increase our tax base, and thus enhance the city’s image. This, in turn, will boost residents’ morale, and spur better services for residents, improving everyone’s quality of life here.
It would be all too simple to dwell on the negativities of life, or point fingers and cast blame on one another. I believe this is counter-productive and a complete waste of energy. I want to channel my energy into bettering your lives, by providing you with a safe and clean city.
Certainly, two things that will turn the tide for our city are to repair the basic infrastructure, and to maintain a strong police force. I want to employ the concept of officers on bicycles, to help protect the downtown areas and main streets. Downtown businesses will benefit strongly from this program, and then word will get out that Hamtramck is a great, safe place to run a business.
We need to incrementally begin restructuring and repaving all the streets and alleys. Rebuilding the infrastructure will also help accelerate business development and better the quality of your lives.
We must do these things in an orderly fashion , in order to build and draw in businesses from the outside. Without an improved infrastructure, without cleanliness and a strong police force, we will not be able to adequately market or appeal to corporations to come here. Blight must be dealt with immediately, and we must show the slum lords that we mean business, through the use of fines and even the potential of jail time.
In truth, I want to chase all the slum lords from out of this city, and restore the quality of life that you the residents so richly deserve. You want experience in the mayoral race: my vast experience in multiple businesses right here in this town will help to create a city we can all enjoy, and again be proud of.
On a related note, it’s been four years now that The Review has been in business. Thanks to all the residents — and by the grace of God — it’s running strong and flourishing.
When I began this enterprise, some were skeptical about my perceived lack of experience in owning and running a paper. Well, the answer to how I achieved a successful local media stronghold was by applying common sense and running my business as efficiently, and self-sufficiently, as possible.
The key to any successful business is intensive marketing. Examine the business models of just about any Fortune 500 company; believe me, this strategy works.
I will do the same for Hamtramck, and I will make it work here, too.
I also want to make it very clear that, in the interest of the newspaper’s integrity and impartiality, and out of respect for the residents who have always supported this paper, we will not endorse any candidate for mayor in The Review. Other endorsements will still take place including for the race for City Council. I have therefore made the decision to pass over the baton as endorser to Charles Sercombe, my editor and a long-time student of this city’s political landscape.
In summary, I wish to say to you that we are all in this together. However, when the city is experiencing corruption, or an emergency manager takeover (for a second time); a broken infrastructure, low morale, dirty parks, an unfinished historic museum, to name just some of our ills; then our normal lifestyles, in fact our city’s very existence as we know it, are put at grave risk.
I promise you this: that I will have the best interests of the city at heart, and will complete the work that should have been completed for the past 20 years or more.
Under my leadership, and with the help of those who I choose as delegates, we will have the best parks, a powerful police force, a clean city (from the street to the alleys), repaved streets and alleys, the removal of all blight, planting of trees throughout the city, a bike trail, a skateboard park at Veterans Park; we will see baseball restored, police officers patrolling on bicycles, adequate and functional lighting at night, and much more.
I am asking for your vote on August 6th to be your next Mayor. Let’s make Hamtramck the city it once was — and more. And better. As it was in the days of Albert Zak, so shall it be in the coming days when I am your elected mayor.
A clean city, a prosperous city. A city we can all proudly call home.
May God bless Hamtramck, and all of you!