Voters head to the polls on November 2 to cast their votes for local leaders, ballot proposals and more.
Get to know the candidates running for local office in your community with 101.9 FM WDET’s Candidate Guides. Surveys were distributed to candidates to complete and you can see the responses for candidates for Dearborn City Council below.
Related Race: Dearborn Mayor
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Current job: Financial Executive
Education: Dearborn Fordson High School and Hillsdale College – Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and a concentration in Computer Science
About Robert A. Abraham: I have over 20 years of experience on the Dearborn City Council, and I want to honorably and humbly continue to serve the hometown of Henry Ford. I have three grown children that are graduates of Loyola University-Chicago, and I am proud of their accomplishments and contributions to their community. I have served the Fordson High School Varsity Alumni charity as the Treasury and Director for almost 25 years. I am a Director on the Henry Ford Foundation Board. I am actively involved with many community service groups, including the Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit (the Dearborn Animal Shelter) and Exchange Club of Dearborn. I am a third-generation lifetime resident. I support the accountability and transparency required to maintain and increase the confidence of all residents that tax dollars are spent efficiently and effectively. I am endorsed by the Dearborn Police, the Police Officers Association of Michigan, the Dearborn Fire Fighters, Councilman-Retired Mark Shooshanian, Councilman David Bazzy, and Councilman Brian O’Donnell. Public safety is the top priority. I proudly support our recreation programs, parks, pools, the Dearborn Historical Museum, the Dearborn Library System, and the best possible services that can be delivered throughout the community.
“I have over 20 years of experience on the Dearborn City Council, and I want to honorably and humbly continue to serve the hometown of Henry Ford.” — Robert A. Abraham
Why are you running for Dearborn City Council? Our community demands, deserves, and expects strong and honest leadership. With a new mayor to be elected, it is very important to maintain the institutional knowledge I gained over the past 20 years.
What is the most important issue facing Dearborn? Public safety, pollution, traffic and city services.
How would you address that issue? The Council must work with the new administration quickly to address the primary concerns the residents have in our neighborhoods and community. We must provide the resources needed to reduce crime, reduce traffic speeding and violations, address noise, air, and water pollution, as well as improve the quality of life for every family in Dearborn.
What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? One of the primary functions of the Council is to adopt a responsible annual budget for the Mayor and the administration. Finding the appropriate balance between spending, resources, and taxation is very difficult. I have worked hard each year to communicate, collaborate, and reach consensus with the Council, the Mayor, and Administration to develop and approve a fiscally responsible budget.
Candidate did not respond to survey request. Visit his campaign website.
Current job: Wayne County Small Business Development Manager Education
Education: B.A. in Pre-Business Law and Supply Chain Management from the University of Michigan — Dearborn, M.B.A. with a concentration in Global Supply Chain Management from Wayne State University.
About Kamal Alsawafy: I am a life-long Dearborn resident, advocate, and public servant. As a Lieutenant and Platoon Leader in the National Guard’s 837th Engineering Battalion, I have served our country. As our Wayne County Business Development Manager, I have served our county in overseeing the attraction and expansion of businesses. And now, with your support, I hope to use my years of private and public sector experience, to serve our city as your next Councilman.
Why are you running for Dearborn City Council? Dearborn has given me so much: It is the city I grew up in and the city that I launched my academic and professional career in, but most importantly, it is the city I call home. I am running for city council to be your voice, to listen, to put in the work, and to fight for Dearborn. This campaign is about putting people first. This is our moment to build a better Dearborn that works for everyone.
“With your support, I hope to use my years of private and public sector experience, to serve our city as your next Councilman.” — Kamal Alsawafy
What is the most important issue facing Dearborn? Our small businesses are critical to the economic success of the city but many businesses opt out of launching in Dearborn due to many of the antiquated and convoluted city processes in place as well as red-tape.
How would you address that issue? As Wayne County’s Business Development Manager, I have worked hand in hand with our small business community to promote a thriving culture of entrepreneurial spirit and economic development within the city. I have the necessary skills and expertise to help new businesses launch and flourish, ultimately bringing in additional revenue sources and attracting new investments into our city.
What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? As someone who grew up in our city parks, pools, and recreation spaces I understand how important these spaces are to our community and so I was in opposition to the closing of many of our community pools.
Current job: Educator, University of Michigan
Education: Master’s Degree in Education, City University of New York; Bachelor’s Degree in Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Michigan-Dearborn; Diploma, St. Alphonsus High School.
About Erin Byrnes: My name is Erin Byrnes, and I am running for re-election to Dearborn City Council to enhance quality of life across our city by ensuring great neighborhoods and high-quality city services. I am committed to building a Dearborn that works for and welcomes everyone, and have been honored to serve as a City Councilwoman since 2018.
I was raised in Dearborn, and am a graduate of UM-Dearborn. I attended graduate school and served as a middle school special education teacher in New York City from 2008-2010, and since returning home, I have worked as an educator at the University of Michigan. I served as Chair of the City Beautiful Commission and was a member of the Downtown Dearborn Promotions Committee prior to being elected to City Council.
Why are you running for Dearborn City Council? I am running for re-election to Dearborn City Council to promote inclusion and social justice, address climate change on the local level and support residents by providing a mix of city services that enhances their daily quality of life. My campaign is focused on connecting with voters across our city to determine their needs, hopes and concerns and to then take action based on their feedback. During my first term, I have worked hard everyday on behalf of our residents, and have responded to thousands of emails and phone calls. My goal is to be accessible and responsive, and to be on the front line of service for the people of Dearborn.
“I am running for re-election to Dearborn City Council to promote inclusion and social justice, address climate change on the local level and support residents by providing a mix of city services that enhances their daily quality of life.” — Erin Byrnes
What is the most important issue facing Dearborn? The intersection of public health and public safety is a critical issue in Dearborn, brought into sharp focus with the recent flooding and the COVID-19 pandemic.
How would you address that issue? Investments in our infrastructure are key, and will keep residents safe and healthy as we investigate ways to enhance our sewer system while updating Dearborn’s climate action plan to account for and mitigate the impacts of climate change. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the need for greater public health education and direct services throughout our city, and Dearborn must be prepared to offer on-going support in this area. Air quality is another key public health issue and during my first term, I supported an ordinance to address pollution that disproportionately impacts our South End neighborhood. Residents who are routinely exposed to fugitive dust and other pollutants not only have their physical health put at risk, but have also been forced to leave their homes when incidents occur nearby industrial facilities that require emergency response. We must pay direct attention to these issues and allocate funding to keep residents safe and healthy, and support our first responders who manage the impact of these two intersecting issues.
What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? The City of Dearborn is in need of greater investments in technology in order to streamline services and enhance accessibility. During my first term, we have made some strides in this area, but there is much more work to do. The City website must be overhauled, and I have been vocal about allocating funds to develop a website that is interactive and intuitive. Permit tracking and materials readily available in Arabic, English and Spanish are two additional elements that should be made accessible via the City’s website.
Climate change is a critically important issue, and Dearborn’s city government must do more to address and mitigate the impact on our community. A commitment to carbon neutrality, investments in solar and wind power, rain gardens and rain water catchment systems are necessary starting points as we look to update our climate action plan. Dearborn is poised to be a leader in addressing climate change as we are home to one of the world’s largest automakers, now making tremendous investments in electric vehicles and new methods of transportation along Michigan Avenue. Now is the time for bold action on climate change, and Dearborn must step up to the plate where this global issue is concerned.
Current job: Insurance Agency — Supervisor
Education: Associate’s Degree
About Silvio Davis: I am a lifelong resident and a product of the Dearborn Public schools. I attended Whitmore-Bolles, DuVall, O.L. Smith and graduated from Edsel Ford in 2004. Over the past 10 years I have given back to our community through volunteer work with some amazing organizations. Currently I am the president of the Dearborn Goodfellows and was 2018 Goodfellow of the Year. I became a Rotarian in 2015 and I served as president for the 2019-2020 term. Each year I help run the snowshoe event for the Michigan Winter Special Olympics in Traverse City. Another proud event I volunteer with is “Special All-Star Day” at the Dearborn Homecoming; I am hoping we can keep this tradition moving forward. I am one of the original members of “Save our small pools” and continue to operate “Floatie nights” at Ten Eyck pool. I also assist with operating these same nights at Summer Stephens. Becoming active in the community has snowballed into serving my community on so many levels. With all the connections and friends I have made throughout the years I know I am ready to serve on City Council. I will continue to serve our Dearborn community and I will be your voice!
Why are you running for Dearborn City Council? We will be getting at least 3 new council members and a new Mayor. The time for good hearted community leaders to step up is now. We need active members in our community to represent all of Dearborn. We are a diverse community and we need the right people on council to represent all of Dearborn. Through my years of volunteer work, I have built these relations within the community and know I will represent all residents proudly.
“We need active members in our community to represent all of Dearborn. We are a diverse community and we need the right people on council to represent all of Dearborn.” — Silvio Davis
What is the most important issue facing Dearborn? There are many topics I could talk about on this but some of the hot topics I will touch on. Before the flooding of residents’ homes, it was our charter and millage that is coming up for a vote. We have a lot of work to do with addressing our sewage system to give our neighbors a piece of mind. We also need to focus on public safety, we cannot afford to reduce or lose any of our public safety resources. We have already closed libraries, pools, and other community resources. I strongly feel that if we remove one fire truck or take one police officer out of the neighborhood people will leave Dearborn. We need to ensure safety for our residents to keep them here. Our business districts are another focus we all need to work with on attracting creative businesses to want to build in our community. Together Dearborn has a bright future.
How would you address that issue? One by one we will have to listen, understand, research and focus on what Dearborn represents, our residents. We need to build strong relationships within the community and address each opportunity with a creative mindset. Technology has come a long way and we really need to look at our neighboring communities to spark ideas to better ours. Our business districts have so much potential with some creativity and focus we can build them up for success.
What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? It is hard to sit on the outside without all the facts and say I disagree with specific actions our administrations have done. I am very supportive of our recreation department and the amenities they offer. The pool and library closures hit hard, our community tried to save them and were successful with 3. I have a lot of respect for the current administrations and know each of them personally, from council to the Mayor’s office. I can say with confidence they have hard decisions to make each year and I respect that they have stepped up to work on those decisions to represent what is best for Dearborn. Moving forward I know Dearborn has a bright future and our community will come together to shine like we always do.
Current job: Title Agent
Education: B.A. University of Michigan Dearborn, J.D. Thomas M. Cooley Law School, M.B.A. University of Michigan Ross School of Business
About Lola Elzein: I was born and raised in Dearborn. I am a graduate of the University of Michigan — Dearborn, Thomas M. Cooley Law School and I just recently earned an MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan — Ann Arbor. In 2014, I established my business, Venture Title Agency in 2014, right in the heart of Dearborn. I am an active volunteer and sponsor of several community organizations, including the Dearborn Education Foundation. However, of all the hats I wear, I am most proud to say that I am a devoted mother to my two daughters: Milena (9) and Céline (3).
Why are you running for Dearborn City Council? Dearborn is a beautiful place in which to reside, with great schools, parks, and amenities. There’s so much to be proud of in our city, but I understand that it faces challenges and concerns that must be addressed, including resoundingly high property taxes, lack of vision in the area of economic development, and general lacking city processes. I am running for city council because I am invested. I am confident that my educational and business background, working with local businesses and helping our next door neighbors, have afforded me the knowledge and experience needed to make tough decisions that will positively impact my fellow citizens and our city at large.
“There’s so much to be proud of in our city, but I understand that it faces challenges and concerns that must be addressed, including resoundingly high property taxes, lack of vision in the area of economic development, and general lacking city processes.” — Lola Elzein
What is the most important issue facing Dearborn? Dearborn’s property taxes are off the charts! High property taxes have been driving away so many of our investors and young families looking to reside within our city.
How would you address that issue? As a successful entrepreneur with a thriving title agency, I understand the ins and outs of balancing a budget and keeping us in the green. If elected, I will work to identify excess spending in our city’s budget and look for solutions to trim the fat, identify new revenue sources, streamline processes, lower our city taxes, and relieve Dearborn residents of this heavy financial burden.
What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? I was deeply disheartened to find our libraries shutting down. As the Secretary of the Dearborn Education Foundation, I understand how vital our public libraries are to building a strong social infrastructure for our city, improving literacy, and hosting positive programming for our community.
Current job: Business owner
Education: Some college
About Gary Enos: Moved to Detroit to Dearborn in 1976. Graduated from Edsel Ford I’m 1984. Been a Dearborn business owner to the present since 1995.
Why are you running for Dearborn City Council? Crime, and the absolutely ignorant idea of defunding the police and public safety of the citizens of Dearborn. The pandering and lack of courage by political leaders within Dearborn city government! The lack of fairness! The lack of helping business and the lack of growth with companies that provide a healthy tax base for the community and the citizens of Dearborn.
What is the most important issue facing Dearborn? Leadership
How would you address that issue? By running for City Council
What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? Several. The leadership in our City has been nonexistent.
About Khodr Farhat: I was born blind in Beirut, Lebanon, and I had immigrated to the United States back in 2009. Upon my arrival, I did not speak one word of English. Everything was new to me as well. Yet my dedication and determination made everything easier. I pursued my Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Michigan — Dearborn. Since 2013, I have been heavily involved as an advocate, public speaker and activist. I chose this path because I know what hardship feels like. I chose Political Science in particular because I firmly believe that this is the best route to go in order to make a lasting and impactful difference in peoples’ life. In addition, I am heavily involved with many charitable organizations like the Rotary club, Dearborn Goodfellows, the Lions Club, just to name a few.
Why are you running for Dearborn City Council? I am running for Dearborn City Council to fight for a better city for all. If anything, I am running to ensure transparency, accountability and equity. It is very important to count every voice and make sure that it is being heard.
My platform is very inclusive that covers many issues such as, address are high taxes, fix our crumbling infrastructure, fight for accountability, empower the business community, fight for a better environment etc.
“It is very important to count every voice and make sure that it is being heard.” — Khodr Farhat
What is the most important issue facing Dearborn? The most important issue today, especially after the flood that we had couple weeks ago, it’s to hold everyone accountable. We pay amongst the highest taxes in the state, yet we are not getting what we deserve.
How would you address that issue? If elected, I will fight for an independent investigation, as well as I will fight for our residents to get answers and to get compensated for what they lost.
Current job: Engineer at Ford Motor Company – 8 years. Currently in Program Control, Electrified Powertrain Engineering
Education: University of Michigan Dearborn – BS in Electrical Engineering
Why are you running for Dearborn City Council? I feel I owe Dearborn for raising me, housing me, and providing me the education and opportunity to make a good living. I want to give back by running for office to serve this city and its residents. I’m running because the city is at a critical juncture as we recover from multiple crises and welcome a new Mayoral administration next year.
What is the most important issue facing Dearborn? Many residents feel our tax burden is too high, and do not feel the city has been using their money effectively.
How would you address that issue? I plan to have our budget completely re-evaluated to find savings, while also allocating the needed resources to invest in the future of the city. We can find opportunities to reduce tax burdens through state and federal grants, which we will need to fix our broken infrastructure. Intelligent city planning, zoning, and regulations can make our city a better place to do business and live, increasing our tax base.
What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? It has been apparent that our current administration lacks direction in dealing with issues other than through stop-gap measures. We need to be prepared to deal with future issues.
Candidate did not respond to survey request. Visit her campaign website.
Candidate did not respond to survey request.
Candidate did not respond to survey request. Visit his campaign website.
Current job: Retired police and command officer that served both Dearborn Police and UM-Dearborn Campus Police Departments. I am currently employed as Armed Corporate Security for AAA Michigan.
Education: I am a product of Dearborn Public Schools and a Dearborn High School graduate. I am a Henry Ford College Criminal Justice graduate and attended the University of Michigan — Dearborn. I also graduated from the EMU School of Police Staff & Command program and have considerable police supervision and executive training, including FBI National Associates Executive Leadership Training.
About Ken Paris: I am a Dearborn resident of 55 years and have lived in both East and West Dearborn. My wife Jamie and I have been married over 40 years. My son, daughter and son-in-law are law enforcement officers, and my daughter-in-law is an X-Ray technician. We are blessed with two grandchildren. I served 39 years as a police and command officer with Dearborn Police and UM-Dearborn Public Safety. I was one of the first two UM-D police officers and served as Interim Chief/Director for 8 months. I was elected as a Dearborn Police & Fire Pension Board Trustee and served 10 years on the Dearborn Police Supervisor’s Union Executive Board. Mayor O’Reilly appointed me to the Dearborn Traffic Commission after my police retirement, and was twice elected to serve as Chairperson. I continue to be an active member of the Dearborn Federation of Neighborhood Associations because neighborhoods matter. I was a prior member of the Knights of Columbus, Dearborn Exchange Club and League of Women Voters. Professionally, I was a member of the Michigan Association of Chief’s of Police (MACP) and the Michigan Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (MACLEA).
Why are you running for Dearborn City Council? I grew up in this community and served as a career law enforcement officer. I ran for Dearborn City Council four years ago. In 2016/17, the city wasn’t adequately addressing traffic safety concerns, nor adequately advising residents of what was taking place in problematic police and fire dispatch consolidation. In the last four years we still have failed to adequately upgrade infrastructure, technology and increase customer service. The city still has to take steps to eliminate impediments to development and business opportunities. These problems continue to exist today and motivates me to run for office once again. Police Officers and residents face real challenges as far as traffic safety and crime. There are individuals/groups wanting to defund or reallocate police funding and otherwise dramatically change public safety in ways we cannot allow to happen. Changes will continue in law enforcement now and into the future, but we cannot lose sight of the excellent public safety services provided to our residents. I tried to address traffic safety concerns four years ago, and the problem has only gotten worse. We’ve never had a prior police officer serve on council, isn’t it time we have someone with that experience? See my campaign website: https://kenparis4council.com/ and FB campaign page: https://www.facebook.com/paris4council/
“Changes will continue in law enforcement now and into the future, but we cannot lose sight of the excellent public safety services provided to our residents.” — Ken Paris
What is the most important issue facing Dearborn? The June 26th flooding crisis is the current priority and we should demand an independent investigation into the cause and how to resolve this from reoccurring. It seems that this is a fluid and regional problem that will take time and collaboration from local, state and federal resources to resolve. Besides the recent flooding, traffic safety and apparent lack of a long term solution is still a serious, on-going problem that the City has failed to adequately address on a long term basis. I’ve attended the majority of council meetings and budget sessions over the past five years and have a good knowledge of City issues. I’ve reported on many important issues on my Facebook Page “Dearborn Eye” which may be viewed via: https://www.facebook.com/Dearborneye
How would you address that issue? I served 39 years in law enforcement. During my tenure as Chair of the Dearborn Traffic Commission, we advocated for the City to look into Traffic Calming measures and utilizing the Traffic Commission in the way it was designed many years ago. Traffic safety issues have increased with the City not showing long term solutions to address the serious problem. For a number of years, I’ve advocated for a traffic safety unit formed using part-time officers to avoid overtime costs. This directed traffic safety unit would report directly to the Traffic Safety Bureau Sergeant and direct efforts by the use of data and analysis of the overall problem. Crash reports provide data for accident causation and priority based enforcement locations along with verified citizen complaints. Engineering (including traffic calming) and making better use of expert traffic safety consultants will assist in organizing and sustaining a long term traffic safety program. There has been a lack of political will by our city to address the traffic safety problem. That needs to change.
What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? For the past 1.5 years I’ve reported on the inability of our Mayor to be the leader that a strong Mayor form of government requires (see my Dearborn Eye FB page). The Mayor has acquiesced his authority and responsibility for some time to his Police and Fire Chief and the Council President during the COVID Pandemic and the recent flooding crisis. You can delegate authority for only so long, but you cannot delegate accountability and ultimate responsibility. I have also expressed concerns with how the city has handled the overall city response to COVID. There was inconsistency in messaging and enforcement of emergency orders. Changes to the Medical Marijuana Caregiver and licensed facilities ordinances has been delayed far too long and needs to be resolved in a fair and consistent manner that’s fair for all areas of the city.
Current job: Sales Consultant Taylor Ford, Attorney
Education: Juris Doctor
About Mike Sareini: I am married, proud father of 5 and a lifelong Dearborn resident. As a child growing up my parents taught the importance of public service. I remember working very hard in 1985 when my mother ran for public office unsuccessfully, eventually winning in 1989 and serving Dearborn for 24 years. I always knew I would follow by example and work in service for others. At the age of 34, I returned to school to complete my education at University of Michigan-Dearborn and then on weekends and nights I went on to Law School and graduated Cum Laude. I did all this while working full time, ranked #3 in the Nation for Ford in Sales and raising my family. I have been a licensed Michigan attorney for 8 years now. My 25+ years of sales experience has taught me the people skills necessary to get the job done and my Law degree affords me the knowledge necessary to make critical decisions. I have served on the City Council for the past 7 years and believe I have made a profound impact on policies that are always in the best interest of our City and its residents. I am a very passionate person that sets goals and achieves them.
Why are you running for Dearborn City Council? I am running for reelection to build on our accomplishments. I believe there is more work to do. Although I have been able to achieve substantial changes, I have more to give and I know there is more I can do to help improve our city. I have worked tirelessly to ensure greater accountability and transparency in our city government. I have ensured your tax dollars were appropriated effectively and efficiently, and most importantly, prioritized our residents’ concerns above all. I have worked to maintain a safe, clean and accessible city for families to work, live and play in. Dearborn is the city that my family has called home for generations, as I would like it to be for all residents. A new mayor will be elected this year, which will result in key changes to the administration. We have the opportunity to shape the direction of our city’s future. Now, more than ever, Dearborn needs leaders who will ask the tough questions and make decisions in the best interest of the city and its residents. I believe my dedicated leadership, experience and vision will be very valuable in moving the city forward.
“ I am running for reelection to build on our accomplishments. I believe there is more work to do. Although I have been able to achieve substantial changes, I have more to give and I know there is more I can do to help improve our city.” — Mike Sareini
What is the most important issue facing Dearborn? High property taxes and population decline.
How would you address that issue? It is a concern that the U.S. census showed Dearborn lost 4.3 percent or nearly 5,000 residents. It means we must and can do better. To encourage residents to stay and attract new families to come to our city, we need to reduce our taxes and encourage improvement and investing in their properties. We can achieve this by adapting new technology to streamline city services and reduce wasteful spending. We need to ensure properties are being fairly assessed and work with stakeholders on the state and county levels to bring down more funds to Dearborn.
What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? The changes in water rates. The city gets billed for water and it is our job to determine how to calculate the rates. The city changed its rates to a higher percentage for fixed costs and lower for usage. Previously 72% of the water bill was usage and 28% on fixed costs. Based on a finance department recommendation, the city changes its rates to 60% fixed and 40% usage, and it was disaster. Residents’ bills increased by 30 — 40% and corporations saved millions. The city currently changed to a 65% fixed and 35% and it is still a benefit to corporations and a detriment to our residents.