Hamtramck Mayor November 2 Election Candidate Guide

Incumbent Karen Majewski faces challenger Amer Ghalibin the race for Hamtramck Mayor.

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 Hamtramck Mayor below.

See a full list of races covered here.

Related Race: Hamtramck City Council

Amer Ghalib

Candidate did not respond to survey request. Visit his campaign website.

Karen Majewski

Age: 66

Current job: Mayor, City of Hamtramck; Owner, Tekla Vintage

Education: Ph.D., American Culture, University of Michigan with focus on immigration and ethnicity

About Karen Majewski: I was elected Hamtramck’s first woman mayor in 2006, after 2 years as city council president/mayor pro tem, and serving on the Hamtramck Historical Commission. I am now running for my 5th term as mayor. I am a former president of the Michigan Municipal League, representing all Michigan’s cities and villages. I have also served on the boards of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance and Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency. My book, “Traitors and True Poles,” was published in 2003, and as a scholar of ethnicity and immigration, I continue to lecture and publish.

I am a former Associate Professor of Polish and East-Central European Studies at St. Mary’s College in Orchard Lake, Michigan, and former Executive Director of the Polish American Historical Association. As a Project Manager at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy, I worked on economic and community development projects across the state.

In 2013 my husband and I bought and renovated a vacant storefront on Hamtramck’s historic main street, and I established my brick and mortar business, Tekla Vintage.

Why are you running for Hamtramck Mayor? I am running for another term as mayor of Hamtramck because we are in the midst of so many exciting projects and initiatives, and my leadership will help guarantee that those projects see fruition in accordance with our Master Plan and our commitment to Hamtramck as a diverse, walkable, and welcoming urban community. In my 18 years of elected service, I have built relationships across all of our diverse communities, and have told the story of Hamtramck as a microcosm of the American experiment to a worldwide audience. This experience in and commitment to advocacy and bridge-building is one of my most powerful motivators.

“We are in the midst of so many exciting projects and initiatives, and my leadership will help guarantee that those projects see fruition in accordance with our Master Plan and our commitment to Hamtramck as a diverse, walkable, and welcoming urban community.” — Karen Majewski

What is the most important issue facing Hamtramck? Hamtramck, like other cities, faces so many issues. But I would separate them into 2 categories: One is the need for infrastructure investment—whether it be physical infrastructure like our aging streets and sewers, or economic infrastructure like our small business community, or human infrastructure like our neighborhood groups. The other issue is the recognition that Hamtramck has become a model to the world of how diversity can work in real life, on the ground, warts and all, so finding ways to make sure everyone is heard and feels a part of the city is a never-ending project, for Hamtramck and, more than ever, for the country.

How would you address that issue? We are working through our plan for incrementally addressing the physical infrastructure issues as funds allow year by year. In addition, the city has continued its efforts to include multi-lingual signage in city hall, to translate city documents, and to train and diversify our workforce. As mayor of course I support and encourage those initiatives. And as an official spokesperson for the city, it continues to be my job to tell those stories, and the story of the American dream in Hamtramck, flawed and imperfect as it is, to the wider world.

What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? Lately, my disagreements with City Council have to do mainly with decisions that undermine the essential fabric of Hamtramck as an urban, walkable, people-focused community. For instance, the Council has recently allowed additional curb cuts and driveways, as well as approved enclosing front porches. As Mayor, I have no vote except for ordinances, contracts, and to break a tie, so I have no voting voice in these decisions which are a slippery slope that threaten the very assets that make us unique and, for that matter, marketable as a community. Just last night, the Zoning Board of Appeals, whose members are appointed by City Council, denied a zoning variance to a small business, located in what used to be a mixed-use building that is now in a  neighborhood zoned residential. This traditional mixture of uses is something that used to be common in Hamtramck, while some governing bodies in Hamtramck are working to destroy the very qualities that other cities and suburbs are striving to create.

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