Malinowski-Maxwell becomes interim mayor
By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — Mayor Daniel Paletko died due to complications from COVID-19, according to a Dec. 30 post on the city’s Facebook page.
“The City of Dearborn Heights is saddened to announce the sudden death late Tuesday of Mayor Dan Paletko from complications associated with COVID-19,” the post read. “More information will be posted as it becomes available.”
With Paletko’s death, Council Chairwoman Denise Malinowski-Maxwell becomes interim mayor and Councilman Bill Bazzi will serve as city council chair, according to the city charter.
No other details were announced. He is survived by two daughters, Marie and Ann.
Paletko, 70, was a long-time public servant. He served on the Dearborn Heights City Council from 1974 to 2002. He was elected to the state House of Representatives that year, but resigned in 2004 to become mayor upon the resignation of Ruth Canfield.
In 2005, he was elected to his first full term, and was re-elected in 2009, 2013 and 2017.
Paletko is retired from Ford Motor Co. where he was a financial manager. He was a certified public accountant and held degrees from the University of Michigan, University of Detroit and Wayne State University, the city’s website said.
Council members took to Facebook where they offered condolences after the news was announced early Wednesday morning.
“I am so sorry to announce that Mayor Paletko passed away,” Malinowski-Maxwell said. “This is a shock to our city and made he rest in peace.”
Bazzi wrote: “I extend my deepest condolences to the family of Dearborn Heights Mayor Daniel Paletko, who passed away yesterday. May he rest in peace.”
“Dearborn Heights is saddened by the loss of Mayor Paletko. RIP Mr. Mayor,” Councilman Ray Muscat posted on his Facebook page.
City Treasurer Lisa Hicks-Clayton wrote: “I am deeply saddened to hear of Mayor Paletko’s passing. I pray for him, his family and friends. Please keep our community in prayer as well. He served our community faithfully for many years. God rest his soul.”
Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. issued a statement offering condolences.
“On behalf of the City of Dearborn, I expressed our condolences to the people of Dearborn Heights on the loss of their mayor, Daniel Paletko,” O’Reilly said. “He was a friend to our community, and championed collaborative efforts that better served residents in both Dearborn Heights and Dearborn.
“A longtime public servant, he will forever be part of the legacy of Dearborn Heights, and the region. Our hearts especially go out to his family and friends at this difficult time.”
Dearborn City Council President Susan Dabaja also posted on Facebook.
“I’m saddened to learn of the passing of Dearborn Heights Mayor Dan Paletko,” she wrote. “He was a devoted public servant, and he will be missed. My heartfelt condolences to his family and the city of Dearborn Heights.”
The city council already was in the process of appointing a new member to fill a vacant seat left after Hicks-Clayton was elected treasurer, but now may have to appoint an additional member.
Four candidates, Zouher Abdel-Hak, Mo Baydoun, Nancy Bryer and William Zurenko were all interviewed for consideration for Hicks-Clayton’s empty seat.
No decision has been made since the council voted 3-3 twice for Abdel-Hak and Baydoun during meetings this month. The council’s next regular virtual meeting is scheduled for Jan. 12.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])