By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — Nine candidates for City Council will be narrowed down to six following the Aug. 6 primary election.
The candidates are incumbents Dave Abdallah, Lisa Hicks-Clayton and Ray Muscat, former Councilman Ned Apigian, and newcomers Jamal Bazzi, Larry Henney, Stephen Henry, Nadine Jones and Rose Tripepi.
Abdallah, 53, is a Century 21 Realtor and Heights council member; Apigian, 81, is a self-employed architect; Bazzi, 41, is a business owner and investor; Henney, 74, works as a Realtor; Henry, 64, is the owner of Leader Printing and Mailing; Lisa Hicks-Clayton, 54, is a Heights council member; Jones, 41, is a flight attendant, founder and director of the non-profit Love A Michigan Vet Project; Muscat, 65, is a retired Ford Motor Co. machine repair leader and a Heights council member; and Tripepi, 70, is retired from Ford Motor Co. and UAW.
Three seats are open on the city council, all held by the incumbents who are seeking re-election this year. Abdallah has been on the council since 2016, Hicks-Clayton since 2012 and Muscat since 2015.
On Nov. 5, voters will determine who fills the four-year term seats on the council.
Each candidate was asked four questions with a 100- to 120-word limit for each. Responses over the word limit were edited. Henry did not respond to the questionnaire by press time.
Question 1: Why are you seeking (re)election for a seat on the Dearborn Heights City Council?
Abdallah: I have devoted my entire career to helping families find their home in the Dearborn Heights area. I have raised my children in Dearborn Heights and my elderly parents reside here. I have always had a passion for service, and voters have entrusted me to vote in their best interests. I want to continue to serve the city that I have called home for the last 20 years.
Apigian: Because I bring a unique and rare important background experience and education to the council table and to the cities problems in general, as the city does not employ any civil service employees as a licensed architect or community planner.
Bazzi: Simply because I live in this great city and my wife and I are raising five children together and I have the passion to serve and especially to serve the residents of our great city of Dearborn Heights.
Henney: I never intended on running for public office, but I feel intervention is necessary. I’m 74 years young, so I’m not interested in climbing the political ladder. I’m only interested in making my city better. I’m embarrassed when I watch the city council meetings. They remind me of children bickering over a toy. I have a life experience of working with people to get things done. I’m only interested in making my city better. That’s why I’m running for city council.
Hicks-Clayton: I am seeking re-election so I may continue to serve our community, address and resolve challenges, we face as a community, and assist our families with the challenges they may face. Everyone can use a champion and I am that champion. I work for our residents everyday. I lobby at all levels of government, seeking resources and resolutions, which work for our citizens and our city. I bring the most experience and education to the position, and have served our community with compassion for all citizens. Everyday, I ask myself, “How can I make a difference today for others?” I have been a community advocate for over thirty years, volunteering, serving on city commissions, and other key leadership positions, which makes me very qualified to work for our residents. I amplify our constituents’ voices on important issues.
Jones: I have a passion for serving and want to make a difference in my community and be able to help on a greater scale. I feel that the role of a city council member is one that represents the citizens and is able to step up and make the community better for all as a whole. To listen to the residents, put together goals and getting them executed. To bring their fellow council members, as well as the citizens together to work as a team to build a better community. Someone that steps up because they care about not only their family but their neighbors as well.
Muscat: The reason I am seeking to be re-elected is because I feel the necessity to serve my community the only way I know how. I also have been a vocal advocate for those who do not like to speak in public for whatever reasons they have for 15 years or more. I feel that the job of a council person should be just that, the voice of the people and be the steward of the tax payer’s money.
Tripepi: I have been active in politics my entire life. While I understand that there may never be friendships, the fighting needs to stop. The accusations and finger-pointing are putting Dearborn Heights in a bad light. Enough is enough. This is my city and I believe that the majority of the residents need to be represented. There are many great things about this city and we need to work together to keep these things on an upward track. We need to focus on the budget, ordinances and contracts. If elected, I plan on using my voice and my no BS approach to get to the heart of the issues and throw petty politics out with the trash.
Question 2: What are two important issues Dearborn Heights is facing and what will you do to address those issues if (re)elected?
Abdallah: An important issue that residents are facing is flooding. I will continue to work with county, state and federal governments to find a solution for the flooding problems that residents face. I will continue to work towards maintaining and improving city services for our residents. A bustling business district attracts families, helps raise property values and generates economic development. I will use my extensive experience as a realtor to attract and continue to enhance development in the Warren Ave and Van Born corridors.
Apigian: The issue is flooding in the southend; and the city in general. Solution: for the south end, lies with the federal government, specifically the US Army Corps of Engineers not with the council or the city. The secondary issue deals with the entire city. The problem is the over loading of the storm sewer lines causing back-ups in the streets and into basements due to retention limits in the pipes, therefore, this requires more or larger diameter pipes to increase capacity. However, we are still at the end of the line for all the communities above us. Related issue: Because fecal material is fond in flooded basements, means that some foul and storm sewers are still combined and must be separated.
Bazzi: A) The Ecorse Creek Flooding issue. The Ecorse flooding issue is the most important issue in our city and it must addressed and resolved ASAP. And that is through the Army Corps of Engineers and utilizing federal money. B) Promote safer neighborhoods by funding the first responders well.
Henney: The council and mayor argue and sue each. We need to bring back transparency so that taxpayers know how their tax dollars are being spent. As a self-employed realtor for over 31 years, I have brought buyers and sellers together, successfully resolving disputes. I can work with the most disagreeable. I get things done. We have a 60-year-old problem of flooding in my city. We need to take the recommendations of the Army Corps of Engineers. From the council platform, I will be your advocate to the county, state and federal governments to finally fix this problem. I will be your squeaky wheel. No one should go to bed worried that their basement is going to flood because it’s raining.
Hicks-Clayton: First, it is critical that city council members understand their responsibilities and power, as outlined in the city charter. City council members must be a check and balance for the executive branch (mayor and administration). Full accountability and ask the questions which need to be asked, research before the vote, and truly do what is best for the community we serve. City council only works for you when we do our due diligence, ask needed questions and vote accordingly. One hundred percent accountability to our citizens. Members can handle the city business in a professional and civil manner. Personal agendas must be removed and we must lead with compassion, understanding , and be knowledgeable. I have established relationships with leaders from all levels of government which provides support and engagement to get the job done.
Jones: I would love to see everyone working together. As leaders of our city, it is important for everyone to be on the same page and to get alone. There seems to be a disconnect currently, I would like to help resolve that issue. I am looking forward to working together with the council; to put the needs of our citizens first. I feel that a government should be transparent, especially on a local level. We live in our community, our neighborhoods thrive, and we thrive. We deal with issues that are important to us; these issues affect our family, children, neighbors and business owners. A council member should be easily approachable and honest with the residents. Concerns should be mapped out in black and white, no grey areas.
Muscat: There are multiple answers to the question of the two most important issues in Dearborn Heights. For some people it’s the flooding in the south end of our city, but there is not one individual or by the council as a whole can fix this without financial help from the federal government or exercising the consent agreement with Wayne County. In my opinion the transparency in our elected officials is key to having a great city, honesty, integrity is a must and it is lacking on all levels. The other key issue is the high water and disposal rates. These rates are directly affected on how the city spends money from the water fund. We must keep challenging the admiration to change their practices.
Tripepi: Young families are an asset to any community. I live in the heart of the south side and have many young families looking to buy in our area. The way to get these families in the city and keep them here is to ensure their safety and assurance that they will not flood. The flooding issue is a multifaceted and complex problem that has an effect on all of Dearborn Heights in many different ways. In addition, I have been volunteering at the Eton Senior Center for years and see the need for parks and recreation as well as more senior services. I am confident that we can benefit from the new recreation director to bring life back into the community and attract these young families.
Question 3: What education, experience or skills do you possess that make you a qualified candidate for Dearborn Heights City Council?
Abdallah: I am a graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in finance and marketing. I am a top producing Realtor and have worked with Century 21 for 31 years. I have spent my entire career in the Dearborn Heights area, helping families find a home. I am a realtor, community volunteer, father of 3 children raised in our city, and son of elderly parents who live here.
Apigian: The education question separates me from not only the new comers of the council candidates but also from the incumbents as well. I am a design and physical planning professional, holding two associate degrees, in liberal arts and science; and two professional degrees, a bachelors of architecture and a master of urban planning.
Bazzi: I’m also a gas businessman and investor, I am a family man, married and a father of five. I will utilize all my experiences to serve the needs of my great city Dearborn Heights. And I will work with the residents, the investors and colleagues on council when elected to better serve the residents.
Henney: My lifetime experience has been working with people to solve problems. We can disagree without being disagreeable. When the housing crash came, I was instrumental in working with the cities of Westland, Livonia and Redford Township in their neighborhood stabilization programs. I helped increase owner occupied, home ownership in those municipalities.
Hicks-Clayton: My degree is in political science. I have continued to pursue education opportunities, so I may be the best and an informed city council member. I have achieved the Michigan Municipal League Elected Officials Education awards, level 1 (education), level 2 (leadership) and level 3 (governance). I serve on the Michigan Municipal League’s Municipal Services Committee, which reviews and approves support for all Michigan local governments on proposed State of Michigan bills, which impact local communities. As a member of Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, serving on several regional task forces, including economic development, storm water management, legislative reform, this level of education engagement has prepared me to serve.
Jones: I am currently obtaining a master’s degree in Public Administration and Public Policy, I graduate in December. I served two terms with AmeriCorps and run my own nonprofit. I have a heart to serve and the education and experience to do so.
Muscat: I am a graduate of Crestwood High School and a graduate of the Ford Motor Company Trade School via Henry Ford Community College and received journeyman status with endorsements from The United States Department of Labor. I have also attended Michigan Municipal League classes along with going to other seminars for elected officials. Like most jobs there is no better training than on the job training, I started that process some 15 years ago attending most if not all city council study sessions and council meetings. There I learned what needed to be done and what was lacking. Along with voicing my thoughts were enough to have citizens to ask me to run for the council position which I did in 2015.
Tripepi: I have a long history of civic engagement and governmental service. I’ve been on TIFA for over 15 years. I serve on the Van Born corridor, volunteer at Eton Center and drive the bus for senior trips. I’m involved with the UAW as a former employee and screener for many decades. I’m a proud member of the Italian American Club and a member and active volunteer at St. Sebastian. Member of the American Legion post 409. I’m a retired community liaison from Ford. After listening to so many residents, I believe that it’s time to stop the petty politics and move forward in ensuring the city remains a place that I am proud of. My job, volunteerism and dedication will make me an asset to this great city.
Question 4: Why should people vote for you?
Abdallah: I am proud of my record. I have always voted based on objectivity, utilized my experience and will continue to be transparent. Every vote made is well thought out, based on research, and I will always take into consideration, the best interests of the residents. I have a bold vision for Dearborn Heights and I want to continue my work on council to ensure that our city is the best place to live, work and play.
Apigian: You should support my candidacy because I am licensed by the state of Michigan in three separate disciplines: as an architect, a professional community planner and as a residential builder. In my past I have designed several major spaces in Michigan: CBD design for Pontiac, the new Cobo Center design relocation and Environmental Impact Study; and in the Middle East a New Town for Makka Saudi Arabia, called “Madinate Al Barakah” and a refugee center in Iraq. An expertise the city could use that the city does not have.
Bazzi: The decision is for the Dearborn Heights residents, when elected I will be honored to serve my great city residents, all the residents. I will take their concerns to highest levels when needed, I will make sure the police and fire departments are well funded for the safety of our residents. I will enhance programs for my dear seniors and make sure their buildings are well kept, safe and clean. I will contact investors to bring businesses to our city and that’s starting from the Van Born corridor all the way to Warren Avenue.
Henney: The current council and mayor are too divided. We need to bring back common sense. If elected; I will always conduct myself in a civil, respectful, and professional manner. I will be accessible to all residents, working with you to address your issues and concerns. I will create a culture of fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability. I will prioritize public safety and improve community relations, while protecting programs that improve the quality of life for all residents. I will support sensible economic development to eliminate blight, increase the tax base & improve city services. I will work with council and administration to discuss their objectives to find common ground. My background in solving problems makes me the best choice for Dearborn Heights City Council.
Hicks-Clayton: I ask for our citizens support and vote because I have served and ask to continue serving you. I will amplify your voice on issues important to you and your family. I work hard and am the most qualified, bringing experience, knowledge, and commitment. I lead by example and empower others to lead. I am a dedicated public servant and a faithful servant.
Jones: I will be open to listen and learn from not only my fellow council members but from the residents as well. I truly want to step up and make difference, I am one who believes that leaders should stand up for the citizens and ensure that everyone is treated fairly and have an ultimate goal of happiness for all. I want to make my corner of the world a better place.
Muscat: The reason to vote for me is simple; I work for each citizen in Dearborn Heights and not the other way around. I believe my record speaks for itself, I make no promises but to do the best I can do and to always listen to the citizens of Dearborn Heights as a whole. I will always tell the truth and when I make an error in judgment or a mistake I will be the first to acknowledge it and do everything in my power to rectify it.
Tripepi: I am a homeowner and taxpayer in the heart of the south-side. The most important issue that should be the top on everyone’s list is the flooding of the Ecorse Creek Watershed. This issue affects all residents as resources for mitigation, litigation and clean-up are continuously being redirected to the flooding issues. There is a regional solution that needs to be realized to give my friends and neighbors relief. This solution will also help in reducing those with expensive flood insurance premiums and ensure that property values stay consistent. As a resident of almost 50 years, I plan on contacting other communities’ officials to make sure that the pressure stays on Wayne County until a shovel gets in the ground.
For more information on the election, candidates or proposals go to www.vote411.org or www.lwvddh.org.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])