By SHERRI KOLADE
DEARBORN — After a recent death in the family, City Councilwoman Suzanne Sareini decided not to run for re-election this year, but instead focus on her family, including her son, Michael Sareini, who March 13 declared his candidacy for city council in the August primary election.
“In light of the tragic death of my daughter (Nowal Sareini-Shatila), my life and my focus have had to change,” said Sareini, who served six consecutive four-year terms. “She has (two boys) a 6-year-old and 8-year-old, which I am raising.”
Sareini-Shatila died of heart disease Jan. 17 at home. She was 43 years old.
Sareini said her daughter’s death was not easy to deal with.
“We are doing the best we can to cope,” Sareini said.
Sareini, who held a council seat for more than two decades, said she plans to stay active in the city, but she has not decided in what capacity.
“It is too early for me to tell,” she said of future plans. “I have been part of the city for 25 years and I am not going to just walk away. Hopefully, I can volunteer or stay involved in other ways. I am not sure now. It has only been a couple of months since my daughter (died). (It is) hard to make a decision.”
In a March 12 press release, Sareini announced her plans and said the decision to not run for re-election was a “bittersweet” one.
Sareini, who plans to finish the end of her term Dec. 31, was first elected in 1989 and took office January 1990.
She said she planned to run for re-election the day before her daughter died, but now is a better time than any for her son, who has a passion for politics, to run.
“Mike has been interested (in running for council) and had hoped to go into that direction when I retired, which was not going to be this year,” Sareini said. “Somewhere along the way I told him, ‘You need to get ready (to run) because I can’t raise the boys properly, honor your sister, and do my job and (work) on city council. Something has to give.”
Sareini is raising her daughter’s sons, Tarik and Adam Shatila. Sareini said some days are easy and some days are not.
“We’ve got days where it is difficult,” she said. “The boys are young. They are resilient. Sometimes I console them. Sometimes they console me. We are all hurting.”
Sareini, who works for Title Source Inc., a real estate title search services company which has offices in Troy and Detroit, has taken off time from work to re-focus her life.
“I have been paralyzed,” she said. “I pray to God that nobody feels this. It is a horrible feeling. The only way at this point to honor her is to raise her sons the way she would have and we will see after that.”
Sareini said she is grateful for residents’ support during her time on the council.
“I really want to thank everybody for their support for this time,” she said. “It was an honor serving as their councilwoman. It is who I am and what I do. Hopefully when I am feeling better I will be able to be active in other ways.”
An election for the seven council seats is held every four years. All council terms will end Dec. 31. May 14 is the deadline to file petitions to run for municipal offices and city council. A primary election is scheduled for Aug. 6. The general election is
slated for Nov. 5.