By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — After months of campaigning and an election in the books, the nine newly elected Dearborn officials were officially sworn into office during inauguration ceremonies Jan. 9 at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center.
Mayor John O’Reilly Jr., Council President Susan Dabaja, Council President Pro-Tem Michael Sareini, Councilman David Bazzy, Councilman Robert Abraham, Councilwoman Erin Byrnes, Councilwoman Leslie Herrick, Councilman Brian O’Donnell, and City Clerk George Darany were sworn in to serve the city until 2021.
During the ceremony in the Michael A. Guido Theater, 19th District Court Judge Sam Salamey swore in the officials following a video presentation showing the city’s recent accomplishments.
“In a democracy like ours these elected officials are not rulers, but public servants elected to serve by the real decision makers, we the people,” Salamey said. “As residents we must not forget our own responsibility to be informed, active and engaged in the decision process.”
Darany, former 15th District state representative, was first to take the oath of office for his first term as city clerk. In his speech he thanked his family for the encouragement during the campaign and throughout his entire career.
“2018 is going to be a big year,” he said. “I plan to go beyond the job description and office responsibilities to provide transparency and communication for the community.”
City council officials followed Darany, each giving a speech.
Dabaja is returning to the council as president after receiving the most votes during the general election.
“I’m humbled and grateful to be entrusted to serve as council president,” she said. “I’m excited to serve and continue to be fair and make balanced decisions to improve the quality of life for Dearborn residents.”
Serving on the council since he was first elected in 2002, Abraham said he is proud to serve a city with a great sense of community.
“I look forward to keeping Dearborn on track toward our bright future,” he said. “I’m blessed to lead and show people what is right and what is good in order to lead by example.”
Bazzy told the audience that his 2017 was met with challenges following the passing of his mother last year, but being re-elected is a gift because he can give back to the community.
“Being on the council is not just a job,” he said. “I have a lot of jobs. Being on the council is a passion and commitment. Serving on the council is about listening to people and what they need then looking at each other on the council to decide what is best for the city.”
During his speech, Sareini also shared he lost a family member after his uncle passed last year who he said supported him throughout his career.
“Success is not measured in material things, but in compassion, kindness and relationships with others is what is important,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot during my first term and will continue to serve the residents to the best of my ability along with my colleagues.”
O’Donnell said the council works for the entire city and wants to see Dearborn continue to move forward in 2018 and beyond.
“I’m excited to continue to make good decisions for the entire city so not only this generation can benefit but generations so they have a place to live, work and play.”
Herrick, a newcomer to the council, grew up in Dearborn and said residents are the thing that make Dearborn a great place to live.
“Thank you to everyone who supported me and I am honored to be serving you in my hometown,” she said.
Byrnes echoed the same in her speech after bring sworn in for her first term on the council.
“It’s an honor to be working with my colleagues, especially now that there are three women on the city council for the first time in a long time,” she said. “We need everyone to be part of the work we are doing because we are here to serve the city.”
Mayor since 2007, O’Reilly praised the community and said there is no current community like Dearborn outside of the city.
“I’m honored to serve the city for another term as mayor,” he said. “We are very unique, especially when we look at the relationships with the school districts, colleges and university we have in Dearborn. I will continue to accomplish things to make Dearborn a place where people want to live, business want to open and people want to visit.”
At the end of the inauguration ceremony, longtime Councilman Mark Shooshanian was honored by the elected officials for his six terms on the council before retiring.
“I am humbled and honored to serve the city of Dearborn for 24 years and know the current officials will keep Dearborn strong,” he said.
Dabaja, Abraham and Bazzy all said Shooshanian was a great mentor who always offered a helping hand anytime one was needed. O’Reilly said Shooshanian never had an ego and he is a unique person because there will never be anyone like him.
“Mark served the community through everything he did, as an educator, coach and council member,” O’Reilly said. “He always did everything with a steady hand during his time on the council.”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)