By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — The City Council failed to appoint a new council member to fill its open seat after a 3-3 vote, during its Dec. 8 virtual meeting.
The four candidates who interviewed were Zouher Abdel-Hak, Mo Baydoun, Nancy Bryer and William Zurenko during a special meeting Dec. 7.
Councilmen Bill Bazzi, Ray Muscat and Tom Wencel voted for Abdel-Hak while Council Chairwoman Denise Malinowski-Maxwell, Robert Constan and Dave Abdallah voted for Baydoun.
Due to the tied vote, the council has to revisit the topic where it will again consider all four candidates at a meeting in two to four weeks.
The seat became vacant after former Councilwoman Lisa Hicks-Clayton won the election for city treasurer.
During the interviews each council member asked each of the four candidates two questions with two backup questions as well.
At the beginning of the interview candidates were given the opportunity to make a five-minute opening statement and a two-minute closing statement.
Abdel-Hak was appointed interim treasurer when former Treasurer John Riley II resigned in June. He currently owns a jewelry business in Dearborn, but plans to retire in the next few months.
He also served on the city’s zoning board and housing commission in addition to constantly attending city council meetings since 2003.
“I have been participating in city council, I speak at city council, read the agendas, I follow up, file FOIAs and look for answers for information to see if things can be done better and help the council with information which they didn’t know about,” he said.
Baydoun ran for an open seat on the city council in 2017. He is a small business owner of two businesses in the city. He has 12 years of experience, volunteering and working on different campaigns or being involved with the Amity Foundation and Wayne County Sheriff’s Police Reserves.
“The dynamics of the city is definitely changing,” he said. “Being 30 years old I can tell you I have several friends that are moving into the city — into the homes right behind Target and not feeling they really have representation that sits on council. I like to believe that I bring that over to the city today.”
Bryer said she wants to follow in the footsteps of her parents who were very active in the community. Some of her city involvement includes census work, canvasing during elections, president of the South Dearborn Heights Civic Association and appointment to the Women’s Commission and the Van Born Corridor Commission by Mayor Daniel Paletko.
“I have been very active in the community,” she said. “Well, I have spent a lot of time here — my parents have and I even kept in touch when I was out of state. I do come to a lot of the council meetings, I am very active in the city activities and I believe I could kind of calm down the atmosphere that we currently have amongst the council members.”
Last to be interviewed was Zurenko who moved to Dearborn Heights in 2018 after living in Indiana.
He said he has over eight years in public service experience with most of his work in libraries where he identified problems and finding solutions as well as adding value to the community.
“I have paid attention to the things that have gone on government-wise, but I think I have an outside perspective.” Zurenko said. “I am not beholden to any one group or person and I think that my willingness to make this city move forward in a positive direction will inform a lot of decisions I make, and not to mention the fact that this is a position to serve the residents of the city. So, finding out what they need, engaging with them publicly is also something I can do.”
Malinowski-Maxwell asked each candidate if they were going to run for city council in the next election in November 2021, and all of them responding that they would.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])