Primary Election: It’s now the mayor versus a newcomer; millage voted down


By Charles Sercombe
Mayor Karen Majewski has survived another election challenge despite a harsh social media campaign against her and serious doubt among election watchers about her chances.
Majewski came in second behind newcomer Amer Ghalib in Tuesday’s Primary Election.
Ghalib, who has no experience in city government, beat Majewski by less than 400 votes.
City Councilmember Saad Almasmari was defeated in his bid to become mayor, coming in last in fourth place.
Also, perennial mayoral candidate Asm “Kamal” Rahman came in third.
Both Ghalib and Majewski will now advance to the November General Election to square off.
The city council race was reduced by two candidates, Cody Lown and Armani Asad.
The surviving six candidates will also move forward to the November election where the three top vote-getters will be seated on the city council starting Jan. 1 of 2022.
The top council vote-getter is Khalil A. Rafai, with 19 percent of the vote. The runner-up is Amanda Jaczkowski with 17.5 percent of the vote.
Both are first-time candidates.
Also on the ballot Tuesday was a proposed tax millage to fund the police and fire pensions. Once again, voters trounced the proposal, this time by 82 percent.
The proposal would have allowed the city to levy up to an additional 10 mills on the property rolls. Voters have said that the tax hike is unaffordable.
That rejection, however, could have a rebound effect. If the city defaults on its pension obligation, that could result in a lawsuit, and a court-ordered tax judgment that far exceeds the 10 mills that was proposed.
Insiders say to expect the city administration to ask the city council to try the proposal again for the November election or sometime after that.
A total of 3,934 voters participated in the election, with 2,528
voting by absentee ballot. Election results came in at about 11 p.m., two hours after polls closed.
Tuesday was a picture-perfect day, weather-wise: partly cloudy with mild temperatures and a nice breeze.
Here is a breakdown of how the mayoral votes went:
Amer Ghalib: 1,417, 36.74%
Karen Majewski: 1,053, 27.30%
Asm Rahman: 849, 22.01%
Saad Almasmari: 535, 13.87%

The city council election results are:
Khalil Refai: 1,685, 19.91%
Amanda Jaczkowski: 1,483, 17.52%

Muhith Mahmood: 1,121, 13.25%
Adam Albarmaki: 1,067, 12.61%

Abu Musa: 964, 11.39%

Lynn Blasey: 894, 10.56%
Cody Lown: 694, 8.20%
Armani Asad: 543, 6.42%

The results for the millage elections are as follows:
No: 2,916, 82.82%
Yes: 605, 17.18%

Updated Aug. 6, 2021

An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Councilmember Saad Almasmari had previously run for Hamtramck mayor. He previously ran for State Representative.

9 Responses to Primary Election: It’s now the mayor versus a newcomer; millage voted down

  1. Nasr Hussain

    August 4, 2021 at 1:02 am

    The city can easily direct all income tax revenue to pension obligations thus removing the threat of a lawsuit.
    Other expenses and waste can be cut from the city’s budget. If the city current administration can’t do that, then a State administration surely can.

  2. Mark M. Koroi

    August 4, 2021 at 6:12 pm

    Karen received 43% of the primary mayoral vote in 2017 and only 27% this mayoral primary election in 2021.

    One factor in her decline in vote totals may have been the flood response by in the City of Hamtramck government that some viewed as deficient. This perception likely hurt City Council member Saad Almasmari’selectoral chances in the 2021 mayoral primary as well.

    In Dearborn, residents slammed City Council and its President Susan Dabaja for poor flood response with Dabaja singled out for deficient constituent communication.

    Dabaja raised over $163,000 in her mayoral primary and was expected to breeze to victory – but wound up losing in a distant third-place finish behind Gary Woronchak, who raised less than $40,000 in campaign contributions. Hamtramck City Attorney James Allen donated $1,000.00 to Dabaja’s mayoral campaign.

    Hamtramck insiders see Karen likely losing her mayoral seat to Amer Ghalib this November.

    She maintains close relations with the Bengali community however – including former City Council member Shahab Ahmed – and she has been improving her ties with other Bengali political heavy hitters – including Mohammed Hassan. BAPAC could be a source of help for Majewski this fall as well. Should this community give her solid backing, there can be expected to be a close race in November.

  3. Sam Alwan

    August 5, 2021 at 4:36 am

    The article is clearly biased for Karen:

    “Mayor vs newcomer” could’ve been “Mayor vs Ghalib”

    “Ghalib, who has no experience in city government” did she write the article?

    “beat Majewski by less than 400 votes”? Why not more than 350 votes if you can’t do the math?

    Muslim community and sponsors need to take an act on this newspaper.

  4. csercombe

    August 5, 2021 at 3:56 pm

    just so you know, “newcomer” does not imply anything other than, in this context, someone who has never run for public office in town. here is a link of a detroit news story with the same terminology:

  5. Mark M Koroi

    August 5, 2021 at 4:38 pm

    The fact Amer Ghalib is a “newcomer” likely helped him get more votes.

    The incumbents that have run this governemnt the last several decades have largely lost the confidence of the Hamtramck electorate.

    My guess is that if Karen campaigns vigorously it will be a close race in November – although I believe Ghalib has the edge given the primary vote totals.

  6. Reader

    August 6, 2021 at 1:19 pm

    When was the first time that Saad Almasmari ran for mayor?

  7. csercombe

    August 6, 2021 at 3:29 pm

    my mistake. it was state rep. Correction made online. thanks!

  8. Mark M Koroi

    August 6, 2021 at 5:44 pm

    One aspect of this election is apparent.

    The electorate in Hamtramck wants to vote out of office its political insiders – who they perceive as responsible for the dire mess that the city finds itself in.

    One reason for Mohammed Hassan’s landslide loss in 2017 was his satus as apolitical insider. Amer Ghalib, in contrast, never held political office before and has run on a platform of making city government citizen-friendly and ending the divisiveness that has plagued Hamtramck city government for the last decade. Another factor in Karen’s victory in 2017 was the Michigan State Police vote fraud investigation that inhibited absentee voters (largely Bengali and Yemeni-American voters)from returning ballots in the general election – that MSP investigation fizzled despite public statements on impending charges by an MSP spokesman.

    Gary Woronchak, a former journalist who often covered the political infighting in Dearborn politics as a news editor was likewise a surprise victor in the City of Dearborn mayoral primary despite being heavily outspent by primary candidate Susan Dabaja, the longtime Dearborn City Council president – who was publicly criticized over her response to the devastating flooding problems.

    Karen openly promoted the millage increase referendum to address the MERS issue arising from police and fire pension obligations the city must pay – so it is clear that her proposed solution was are not popular -even though it was likely the most sound alternative under tough circumstances.

    Hamtramck is entering its perhaps darkest period – much like Highland Park when it closed up its police force and became the poorest city in America – brought on in part by the closure of the Chrysler HQ and the Sanders Confectionery plant. Likewise, Hamtramck took a hit on its tax base due to the closure of the American Axle plant and the scaling back of the GM Poletown factory operations.

    The financial abyss the City of Hamtramck is heading toward is perhaps the most salient feature of her 16-year tenure as mayor – and a reason why December 31, 2021 will likely be her last day as mayor with Amer Ghalib taking over and inheriting a city facing a dour future.

    God help Hamtramck!

  9. Nasr Hussain

    August 6, 2021 at 9:30 pm

    You’re too pessimistic. Hamtramck’s problems can be easily solved with the right management.
    What you’ve said has been said quite a few times before. Each time the State comes in and leaves Hamtramck with a budget surplus.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *