The primary election is tomorrow. The top two vote-getters will advance to the general election in November.
Cathie Ladzinski Gordon: Registered nurse (retired). Co-owner of New Dodge Lounge for 27 years. Associates degree from Macomb County Community College. Serving her 5th year on council and served 5 years on the DDA board. Served on the 75th Anniversary Committee. Chairs the committee to repair the grandstands. Co-organized the Hamtramck Festival for 4 years. Advocates financial transparency, accountability, and getting back to basics, such as policing and code enforcement. Promises to provide leadership and PR for the city as mayor. Believes we should focus on business retention over recruitment and take care of current residents over potential residents. Supported the DDA, DDA TIF, and EDC. Championed the parental responsibility ordinance requested by residents and the police department. Says council meetings will be productive and all voices will be heard when she presides over meetings. Promises not to turn our safety departments over to a neighboring community or the county, hold regular office hours, and improve the morale of employees and residents. Was a member of the council when the ambulance service was privatized. Understands the state budget laws. Well connected to contractors, employees, and business owners, but not always in a good way. Has been arguing against some unnecessary spending, but her confrontational negotiation style has not helped with convincing others or retaining allies. Suspicious of everything and everyone, including good ideas, volunteers, and good employees. Has voted against rebidding contracts when it was recommended by city managers.
Karen Majewski (incumbent): Mayor 2005 to present. President of the City Council 2003-2005, the first woman to hold the position. Earned a Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan, where she now works. Said in the 2009 election that she has been a resident for 10 years; At the mayoral forum, said she has lived in Hamtramck 25 years. Eats and shops locally. Former Curator of the Polish and Rare Books Collection at Orchard Lake Schools. Former executive secretary and Director of the Polish American Historical Association for 10 years. Former member of the Hamtramck Historical Commission. Trustee to the Michigan Municipal League Board and former president. Member of the defunct Solidarity Slate, a political organization that ran Hamtramck government leading up to two state takeovers. Supports surveillance cameras on Joseph Campau. Supported taxpayer-funded demolition of Shopper’s World for 54 subsidized apartment units and an Aldi. Purposefully limits the ability of long-term residents and business owners to comment on public affairs at council meetings. Quarrels with residents during pubic comment. Has had residents and councilpeople removed from meetings by the police. Took responsibility for filing the residency complaint against Cathie Gordon, which cost the city over $42,000 in legal fees. Claims not to want a merger of police and fire services with another municipality, but the number of shift patrol officers has been reduced greatly during her tenure, and the ambulance service was privatized. Voted to issue an illegal RFP to outsource the fire department in 2006. Participated in an illegal meeting with a potential city manager. Member of the council when it failed to remove Housing Commission appointees who were later removed by HUD. Supported establishment of an EDC, BRA and DDA TIF. Has raised campaign contributions primarily from city contractors. Filed campaign statements with the County Clerk showing that her campaign fund had a negative balance from the Primary Election of 2005 until mid 2007, with outstanding debts of more than $6000. An amended filing for 2008 shows an opening balance that is roughly $4000 more than the ending balance in 2007. Is one of the politicians most responsible for the revolving door in the city manager’s office and the rampant cronyism at City Hall. Supported the hiring of an unqualified political supporter as acting city manager with an attempted murder charge pending against him. Has made a habit of taking credit for the accomplishments of others. Blames the arrival of an emergency manager on the state and national economies. Supported retention of a city events coordinator and continued payments to lobbyists for the automotive industry, even at the cost of public safety. Vowed to continue working with lobbyists at the recent mayoral forum.
John Ulaj: Real Estate Broker and owner of The Review Newspaper. Graduated from Hamtramck High in 1991. Associate Degree in marketing. Also took classes at Walsh College. Former Chairman of the Assessor’s Board of Review. Attends a council meeting once every few years. Wants to replace members of the zoning and planning commissions because they approved legal mosques. Wants to “restructure” the DDA. Hung campaign signs before allowed by law. Prints full page advertisements in his newspaper for his mayoral campaign and the campaigns of some other candidates at no charge. Has been a solid supporter of retaining independent public safety services. Promises to raise property values by 25-40% by increasing the turnover in housing owned by long-term residents. Wants to increase tourism by people in the suburbs, improve services, repair infrastructure, have a clean city with adequate lighting, the best parks, to restore the grandstands, and have a bike path. Says all streets and alleys would be repaved incrementally if elected, and wants to have police officers on bicycles. Says he wants to show landlords that the city means business, but his family owns some of the most tax delinquent and abused rentals in Hamtramck. Described his own delinquent tax payments on the newspaper office as “a business decision”. When asked how he would accomplish his campaign promises, he said he would eliminate Platinum Landscaping “for ripping the city off”, which he would have no authority to do unless there was a tie vote on the city council. Believes the role of mayor is to be in charge of commissions like planning, zoning, and the DDA, which is not the case under state law. Promised during a candidate forum, “I will put money in your pockets because I know business.”
Abdul Algazali: Resident of Hamtramck more than 30 years. Licensed Chiropractor in the State of Michigan. Earned an associates degree at Wayne County Community College, and a doctorate from Life University of Chiropractic School in Atlanta, GA. Former board member of the Chamber of Commerce. Former member of the Plan Commission and Human Relations Commission. Current mayor pro tem. Always votes against tax and rate increases. Does not support the DDA, EDC, or BRA, and advocates for focusing on essential services. Frequently cites the statistic that 50% of all businesses in the USA are small business. Stated that he would end traffic patrols after receiving tickets. Wanted to make up for lost revenue with pay cuts for elected officials and department heads and concessions from the unions, but didn’t produce plans to do so. Wants to offer the next city manager $50,000 per year salary. Has not written a piece of legislation in 7+ years of serving on council. Did not attend a recent mayoral forum. Is absent from the country for months at a time. More often than not, asks questions during meetings that have already been asked and answered. Will not shake hands with women.