By Charles Sercombe
Although the Primary Election is just four days away (as of Friday, Aug. 2), a number of Hamtramck voters have already cast their ballots.
The City Clerk’s Office said that it has sent out nearly 800 absentee ballot applications to voters.
As of Thursday, the day The Review went to press, 400 absentee ballots had been returned. That number is expected to increase to at least 600 by Tuesday.
The City Clerk’s Office will be open this Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. to allow voters to apply for an absentee ballot and vote in city hall.
In primary elections where only local offices are on the ballot, voter turnout is usually low, around 1,500 to 2,000. This year, with the Bengali community being the largest active voting bloc, it’s anyone’s guess what the final turnout will be.
Councilmember Mohammed Hassan has been aggressive in getting Bangladeshi-American voters to vote early through absentee ballots.
The ballot contains only three races. Mayor Karen Majewski is seeking a third term, but she has her work cut out. She faces three challengers: City Councilmembers Abdul Algazali and Cathie Gordon and Review newspaper owner John Ulaj.
In order to run for mayor, Gordon had to resign from city council, which means her seat is open. She has two years left in her term. Candidates running for her seat include Darla Swint, Beverly Tran, Ian Perrotta, Darren T. Grow and Abu Musa.
Voters can vote for no more than one candidate. The two top vote-getters will advance to the November General Election.
There are three seats in the running for four-year terms. Councilmember Hassan is the only incumbent seeking re-election. Algazali chose to run for mayor instead of council, and Councilmember Tom Jankowski decided to bow out of politics for now.
Candidates running for the three seats with four-year terms are Showkat Chowdhury, Susan Dunn, Richard Fabiszak, Mohammed Hassan, Andrea Karpinski, Anthony J. Liggett, Jewel Mohammed, Titus R. Walters, Rashad Almasmari and Armani Asad.
Voters can vote for no more than three candidates, but the top six candidates will square off in November’s election.
One thing missing in this election is anything resembling a slate. Councilmember Robert Zwolak, who is not even running for re-election this year, is making an endorsement.
He’s supporting an almost full slate of women on the ballot. Why mostly women?
“We need to maintain a balance on the city council especially for the women in Hamtramck, who are the majority and whose concerns need to be addressed,” he said in an email to The Review.
But that list does not include Mayor Majewski, which is no surprise to those who follow local politics closely. Zwolak has often clashed with Majewski in council meetings, and at one point was ejected from a meeting by Majewski.
His choice for mayor is fellow Councilmember Cathie Gordon (and he gives an “and or” for JohnUlaj).
In his email, he said of Gordon:
“Clearly, there is a sense for change in the city’s leadership. I am recommending Councilperson Cathy Gordon who sacrificed the last two years of her council term to run for mayor.”
(Yes, Zwolak spelled Gordon’s first name as “Cathy” instead of Gordon’s own preference of “Cathie.”)
In the election for the three seats with the four-year term, Zwolak is backing Titus Walters, Andrea Karpinski and Susan Dunn.
In the seat Gordon sacrificed, he is recommending two candidates, Darla Swint and Beverly Tran, even though voters can only vote for one candidate.