HEIGHTS — Dearborn Heights voters will decide who will fill three four-year seats on the City Council during the Nov. 5 general election.
Candidates are incumbents Dave Abdallah, Lisa Hicks-Clayton and Ray Muscat and newcomers Larry Henney, Stephen Henry and Rose Tripepi.
Abdallah, 53, is a Century 21 Realtor; Henney, 74, has been a self-employed Realtor for 31 years; Henry, 64, is the owner of Leader Printing and Mailing and U.S. Navy veteran; Lisa Hicks-Clayton, 54, is a retired educator; Muscat, 65, is a retired Ford Motor Co. skilled tradesman of 42 years; and Tripepi, 71, is retired from Ford Motor Co. and UAW.
Abdallah has been on the council since 2016, Hicks-Clayton since 2012 and Muscat since 2015.
Each candidate was asked four questions with a 100- to 120-word limit for each. Responses over the word limit were edited.
Question 1: What city amenities and services would you like to improve or grow if (re)elected?
Abdallah: Superb city amenities are integral to keeping our neighborhoods vibrant and our corridors bustling. The amenities that I would like to improve upon are caring for our parks by ensuring trees are planted, grass is cut, and playground equipment is safe for our kids. I would like to improve and allocate more resources for street sweeping and snowplowing during our winter months. Public safety and continued support for our police and fire are always a top priority for me. As councilman, I will continue to work with our county state, and federal government to address flooding issues.
Henney: The city council and administration must work together. They need to start working for the citizens of Dearborn Heights instead of promoting their political agendas. I will work to ensure the flooding issues that have plagued us for too long are finally fixed. We need sensible economic development. Bad decisions have been made resulting in restricting trade. We have too many blighted homes on the south end. Our streets and sidewalks need repair. My experience working with municipalities will result in more owner-occupied homes.
Henry: My top priorities once elected will be to continue to address the flooding, develop our business districts and work to make our parks and recreation better.
Hicks-Clayton: I would like to invest in recreation opportunities, while utilizing tools available to attract new and a variety of businesses to our community. Serving on a regional economic development task force, an economic redevelopment tool kit is available which can assist with identifying deficiencies and opportunity for growth. By pairing economic development, recreation and building community partnerships, our community can thrive and offer Music in the Park, Art in the Park, a Healthy Dearborn Heights indicative, and events built for our community, attract new businesses, and families to Dearborn Heights. Furthermore, we must invest in keeping our neighborhoods clean, safe and well lit. Increased police patrols, developing sustainable programs, including block clubs, neighborhood watch and neighborhood civic associations add value to our neighborhoods.
Muscat: The amenities that I would like to see be improved is our tree trimming, street cleaning, better up keep of our parks and recreation along with an upgrade to our senior citizen centers. We also need a very large upgrade in our TV studio which has been neglected over 14 years. We now own Warren Valley Golf Course, there are so many possibilities such as, music in the park with food trucks, cross country skiing and many more with this venue. Rotating the Sprit Festival from the north end to the south end so the entire city can enjoy a great fun long weekend.
Tripepi: I would like to see senior services and children’s recreation services increase to bring more family’s into the city and keep the retirees here.
Question 2: When a resident approaches you about a concern relating to the city, what steps would you take to ensure that concern is addressed or resolved?
Abdallah: Public service is a commitment to serving our neighbors and fellow residents of Dearborn Heights. I am often approached with constituent issues related to city services. When a resident approaches me with a problem, I work with them to identify the issue and determine our jurisdiction. I then assist the resident in identifying the proper department head or point of contact related to their specific issue. I make email or phone introductions for the resident and the city departments, helping them navigate through process. I always follow up with a call to make sure the concern was addressed and resolved, and I step in if needed.
Henney: I would bring the concern to the mayor. He is the chief administrator of the city. He would contact the department head that would be associated with the concern. I would follow up with the mayor and resident on a timely basis to insure the concern has been resolved to the residents satisfaction. I would not grandstand at the city council meetings to make it appear that I am concerned about the residents.
Henry: Resident concerns will always be addressed to the best of my ability. Each individual concern will require different steps and actions. But I am willing and able to dedicate all efforts to try and get them resolved.
Hicks-Clayton: I always welcome and value citizen engagement. I am accessible to our residents via social media, email, text and my cell phone number is provided on the city website. In addition, I offer constituent office hours and service days. When a resident makes contact, I always express my appreciation for their time and concern. I well document the concern with details, dates. I log all concerns and follow up with the appropriate department head. Together, we assess, evaluate and develop a working time line for resolving the issue. Since 2012, with the support and communication with city department heads, over 1,950 resident concerns have been resolved.
Muscat: When a resident approaches me about a concern I listen to that concern and then if I am sure of the correct answer I will tell them. If I do not have an answer for them at that moment I always tell them to let me reach out to the proper department for an answer. I do the best I can with returning phone calls and emails within a 24-hour period. My cell phone number and email address are publicly known, 313-595-7883 and [email protected] is my city email. If I can’t resolve it with a phone call I will bring it forward to a council meeting (and I am known to do that) and try and resolve it that way.
Tripepi: If someone has a concern about things in the city, first I would investigate to see if council has anything to do with it and if so try to find the correct path to follow. If it doesn’t have anything to do with council I would still try to get them to the right avenue to follow.
Question 3: What do you hope to accomplish if (re)elected to the council?
Abdallah: I hope to utilize my decades of experience working in Dearborn Heights as a top Realtor, to continue to build upon our bustling business corridors and spread the activity to our Warren Aveune and Van Born corridors. I also want to continue working with our department heads to ensure and improve efficiency in city services, including police and fire, in addition to improving the services that impact our residents daily which include snow plowing, street sweeping and garbage collection.
Henney: I’m embarrassed when I watch the city council meetings. We have a real lack of leadership. The council and mayor argue and sue each other while the south end of the city is flooding. Our citizens deserve better that that. Our city needs to function as a body. We need to bring back common sense so that taxpayers know how their tax dollars are being spent. I will demand transparency while restoring respect. We need to get back to representing our citizens. We can disagree without being disagreeable.
Henry: My city council candidacy is built upon three simple principles: leadership, commitment and unity. I pledge: to promote a cooperative spirit that fosters growth and ends unproductive divisiveness. To listen twice as much as I speak, inspiring others with my actions but not diminishing the power of my voice. Remember what makes Dearborn Heights great: the rich diversity of its citizens, and to encourage the traditional values of faith, family, and responsibility.
Hicks-Clayton: It is an honor to serve our community and work for our residents. I wish to continue that commitment and level of service our citizens deserve. I believe in decorum and positive working relationships. By developing community partnerships and building bridges, the impact for our residents will be greater. In addition, I have good working relationships with all levels of government, from school board to county, to state, to the federal level. Through mutual respect and collaboration, we seek and find solutions that work for our community. This includes the development of the funding timeline and mechanism for the Ecorse Creek flooding, for which I continue to advocate and work with all levels of elected and we now have. A town hall will be offered in early spring on this subject.
Muscat: My goals are simple, a five-day work week with city hall being open every day for all services to be done for our citizens and business owners. I understand the word “transparency” gets used often in government but it is essential that we have it. I believe that our city government lacks this very basic item. My last goal is to be a better advocate for Dearborn Heights.
Tripepi: When elected I plan on stopping all the confusion, outrage, scandals and finger pointing. That way we can work on the problems at hand like the flooding and city services. Thank you for your support.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])