Photo by Bob Oliver
Members of the new Dearborn City Council listen to new Council President Susan Dabaja address the audience at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center during the inauguration ceremony for the city’s elected officials Jan. 2.
By BOB OLIVER
DEARBORN – A small thing like a snow emergency didn’t stop many from gathering for the inauguration ceremony for the city’s elected officials Thursday.
Residents and city officials gathered at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center to watch the winning candidates for mayor and the city council from the November election get sworn in by Michigan Supreme Court Justice Brian Zahne.
City Council incumbents Mark Shooshanian, Robert Abraham, David Bazzy, Brian O’Donnell and Thomas Tafelski renewed their pledges to the city while newcomers Michael Sareini and Susan Dabaja took the oath of office for the first time.
Sareini finished third in the November election while Dabaja landed the most votes out of any candidate, securing the role as council president for the next four years.
Tafelski, the former council president, was second in votes and will serve as council president pro tem.
After accepting the oath of office, all seven members of the council were given a chance to speak.
“Twenty years ago, I stood here as the new kid on the block and now, sadly enough, I’m the oldest,” Shooshanian said. “Some things have changed over the years, but what has stayed consistent is that Dearborn has remained one of the greatest cities in America. I’m proud to be a city councilman.”
Barry also stated how strongly he felt about the community.
“This is a tremendous community and I think the city is better than it’s ever been,” Bazzy said. “This isn’t a community of individuals, but a community as a whole working together. I believe we can accomplish anything together.”
Dabaja said the city has work to do, but that it can be accomplished with everyone working together.
“The challenges we face in this city are real and their impact can be felt in each of our homes,” she said, “and while it will not be easy, nor will things happen overnight, I assure you that I will work diligently, collectively and passionately, forging a strong path for our city government.”
Dabaja said she was looking forward to the challenges of sitting not only on the council, but as its president.
“I recognize that there are those who may not agree with me or with every decision that I make as your council president, but I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face and about the decisions we make,” Dabaja said.
Following the council, Zahne swore in Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. for his second full term in office.
O’Reilly thanked city employees for their work and said they make the operations within the city run smoothly.
“We have an incredible work force in our city from the department heads down to every single employee,” O’Reilly said. “I’m impressed every day with how they work, how they’re committed and how they really want to make this a great city. They are really in tune with what we want to do.”
O’Reilly also praised the residents of the city.
“This is a community that embraces everyone and that supports everyone so that we all succeed together,” O’Reilly said.
City Clerk Kathleen Buda was also supposed to be sworn in but could not attend due to illness.
All nine of the elected officials will serve four-year terms that will expire at the end of December 2017.
The evening also featured two video tributes to former Councilwomen Nancy Hubbard and Suzanne Sareini, both of whom did not seek re-election after 24 years on the council.
Hubbard was not at the event due to illness, but Sareini spoke to the audience and thanked them for allowing her to serve six terms in office.
“It has really been a privilege and an honor to serve as your councilwoman for so many years,” Sareini said. “It’s enriched my life and the lives on my family in so many ways.”
Sareini and Hubbard were also recognized by U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) who gave Sareini the text to a speech he is entering into the Congressional Record on Jan. 7 that mentions the work completed by the two councilwomen during their careers in service to the city.
He also presented Sareini with a customized piece of jewelry and thanked her for her service to the city.
“You have been a great public servant and you have left us with a tradition of distinguished and able public service of which we are all proud,” Dingell said.
Dingell also gave his blessing to the new council.
“This is a remarkable city council, and it is also a successor to a succession of many remarkable city councils who have served Dearborn so well for so many years,” Dingell said.
(Bob Oliver can be reached at [email protected])