DEARBORN, Mich. (WXYZ) — In just over a week there will be a decision on Dearborn’s new leader.
November 2nd is election day. Ahead of it, we’re asking questions that voters should have answers to before checking their ballots.
We reached out to both of Dearborn's mayoral candidates -
Gary Woronchak - declined our requests for an on-camera interview - but did provide written responses to our questions -
Abdullah Hammoud did meet with us - to discuss his vision for Dearborn's future.
“I think being a mayor is nothing more than being a neighbor with a little extra responsibility,” said Dearborn Mayoral Candidate Abdullah Hammoud.
Abdullah Hammoud has served as a State Democrat Representative for the past five years.
He’s hoping in a handful of months, it’ll be seven Dearborn City Council members to work with instead of 148 legislators.
“When you think about Dearborn, where do you envision Dearborn going? What is the future of Dearborn in your eyes?” asked WXYZ’s Brian Abel.
“When I think of Dearborn, I think of the families all across the city and their stories. I think of Salal Halem, and his children and his family,” said Abdullah Hammoud. “I think of Nancy Bach over in the east end of the city, and her house was devastated by the floods.”
Hammoud at age 31, cruised through the august primary with 42% of the vote.
Facing 66-year-old Gary Woronchak, who placed second in the primary at 18%.
We asked Woronchak his vision for Dearborn’s future, he stated:
I see Dearborn becoming a place where young families want to locate, where our senior citizens feel safe and secure, and where our richly diverse population lives in harmony. We're part-way there but have work to do.
Gary Woronchak thinks he has the experience in this race by far responding:
Having been Dearborn's state representative, County Commissioner, Chairman of the Wayne County Commission, and a newspaper editor. But experience is more than just longevity. It's the seasoning that enables one to solve problems, deal with difficult situations and to see beyond the moment.
Hammoud is a product of Dearborn. Born and raised and educated in the city’s public school system before getting Bachelor’s and Master's Degrees at U of M Dearborn and Ann Arbor, respectively.
“What is it about your life experience and your career that leads you to believe that you are the right person for this job and that you’re prepared for it? asked Abel.
“I think having a background in public health can serve the city well just knowing that we’re going through one pandemic, and we have a lot of recovery on the out of this,” said Hammoud.
“If you look at the team that we built in Lansing that’s been able to help thousands of residents over my 5 years as state rep, or you look at what we did during the catastrophic flooding,” he added.
And the late June flooding in Dearborn - a focal point in this race.
The waters - damaging 20,000 of the roughly 35,000 homes in Michigan’s 7th largest city, leading to accusations the city government didn’t do enough to prevent or help.
When asked what the major concern of Dearborn residents, Woronchak said:
What I've heard most from voters is traffic concerns in the neighborhoods. Certainly, addressing the causes behind the widespread flooding is high on the list.
And Woronchak’s plan (in part:)
There are several steps we can take to address traffic concerns, from public awareness campaigns on the light end to speed humps on the heavy. More deployment of officers in the neighborhood, too. An independent study on the June flooding will point us in the direction we should go to address that;
“When you talk about actual issues, there is a clock on the wall, and it’s ticking. And it's when the next catastrophic heavy rain that will ensue,” said Hammoud.
"We can look to neighboring communities and what they did successfully,” said Hammoud. “If we look at the city of Taylor back in the 80’s, they constructed golf courses and actually used them as a means of flooding golf courses when you have heavy rain.”
"We’ve submitted a 26-acre parcel of property in the city of Dearborn that we’d love to convert into a giant wetland retention basin,” said
“So that’s the Dearborn that I imagine. One that’s competitive again. That competes with neighboring communities. That improves the public safety and public health and quality of life for residents across the board,” said Hammoud.
If elected, Hammoud would be the first Arab-American to lead Dearborn, where roughly half of its residents identify as Arab.
Election day is only 10 days away. Join WXYZ on November 2, 2021, for all of Metro Detroit's hot election race results.