Candidates Square Off One More Time Before Tuesday’s Election

By Charles Sercombe

Well, the gloves finally came off at last Thursday’s “Meet the Candidates Night.”

Sort of.

In what has been a pretty tame election year, candidates for City Council and mayor sharpened their words just a tad and took some verbal jabs. The turnout for the forum was lower than usual for this kind of event. About 40 people showed up instead of the usual 100 to 200.

Why did so few attend?

It’s hard to say, but part of it could be voter fatigue and the fact that the candidate forum for the primary election had more candidates who were still jockeying for position. This year’s election season had all the appearances of being a sleeper.

As the saying goes, appearances can often be deceiving. This election season may have started off as a yawn but it sparked up on the day of the primary election. To the surprise of many, the Bangladeshi community came out in droves to rocket the three Bangladeshi council candidates to the top.

It’s now official: the Bangladeshi community is a political force to reckon with.

Although council candidates Kazi Miah, Mohammed Hassan and Anam Miah received the most votes, there is no guarantee how they will fare in Tuesday’s General Election. Just like in any other Hamtramck election cycle, the General Election is a whole different ball game.

For many political observers, this race is too close to call and it seems just about anything can happen. Some are even expecting a record number of voters to turn out this Tuesday.

Also in Tuesday’s election are two seats on the school board. Incumbents Hedy Shulgon and Betty Zwolak are facing challengers Carol Pinckney and Roberta Olko.

Olko and Hassan were the only no-shows at Thursday’s candidate forum.

First up in the forum were Mayor Karen Majewski and her challenger, Abdul Algazali, who gave up a bid for re-election to the city council to run for mayor. Algazali has been running on the theme of “change.”

He described himself as a “work horse” and Majewski as a “show horse.” He even criticized her for taking a trip to Europe this summer to be a part of a folk dance celebration. He said while Majewski was dancing, he was taking care of business.

Majewski shot back that she has never seen Algazali at state and local functions nor has he attended seminars by the Michigan Municipal League.

In the council race, Tom Jankowski said it all comes down to who has experience. As a former mayor, Jankowski said he is qualified.

But newcomer Kazi Miah, the highest vote-getter in the primary election, disagreed, saying that if experience is what matters, he questioned why the council “wasted” $60,000 in legal fees to investigate whether Councilmember Cathie Gordon is truly a resident of Hamtramck.

Despite the lively exchange, none of what was said appeared to wound any of the candidates.

Still haven’t heard enough from the candidates? The Hamtramck branch of the NAACP is hosting a candidate get-together this Sunday (Nov. 1) at People’s Community Services on Jos. Campau and Danforth. The event starts at 3 p.m.

As for Tuesday, it promises to be a day of high drama. Stay tuned.

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