By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — The City Council failed to select a new member for a third time after another 3-3 tie vote at its most recent meeting.
Four candidates were interviewed for the vacant seat: Zouher Abdel-Hak, Mo Baydoun, Nancy Bryer and William Zurenko. Interim Mayor Denise Malinowski-Maxwell said Bryer withdrew her name from consideration.
The vote remained the same on Jan. 12 as Councilmen Bill Bazzi, Ray Muscat and Tom Wencel voted for Abdel-Hak while Malinowski-Maxwell, Robert Constan and Dave Abdallah voted for Baydoun.
Zurenko did not receive any votes. Council members voted the same way Dec. 8 and 22.
The city council has scheduled a special meeting Jan. 19 to consider candidates for its mayoral vacancy, with a regular council meeting scheduled for Jan. 26.
The seat became open after former Councilwoman Lisa Hicks-Clayton won the election for city treasurer.
During the Jan. 12 meeting, Muscat told Malinowski-Maxwell he received an email regarding a Freedom of Information Act request for someone who bullied and threatened her, and the only text messages she sent back were the ones from Lisa Muscat, Ray Muscat’s wife.
He asked her to read them so everybody could see there was no bullying or threatening. Malinowski-Maxwell responded by saying the FOIA was simply for any text messages regarding the appointment for council.
“I never said any of those that I handed over in the text messages form were bullying and the person that filled the request interpreted them on their own,” Malinowski-Maxwell said.
She then read the messages from Lisa Muscat.
“Hi Denise. With everything that is going on with the mayor and city council I would hope that you are voting for Zouher to fill Lisa’s spot,” Malinowski-Maxwell read. “Moe has done nothing for us and the city and will not stand behind you like we will for mayor position. Remember who is on our side and has spoken up as a city. Please don’t upset the balance on council.”
Before the Dec. 8 vote Malinowski-Maxwell received this message, “I hope you will consider what we have been fighting for and that we need to continue our momentum. Please go with Zouher so we can finish our very important work. Thank you.”
Following the vote, Malinowski-Maxwell said she received a message.
“I am in complete utterly shock at the way you voted,” she read. “I am sure you have an agenda but I hope and pray that it never comes to fruition. You like all the information you got from Zouher but you slapped him in the face, you have lost my vote and help if you decide to run for mayor. You think Moe is going to help you, he’s on the mayor’s agenda and his own agenda. I know now you can’t be trusted.”
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 regularly attending city council meetings since 2003.
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.
Zurenko 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.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])