Dearborn’s first Arab American and Muslim mayor says power comes from the people

Abdullah Hammoud was officially sworn in as mayor of Dearborn in a historic ceremony in the city that has the highest concentration of Arab Americans in the country.

Mayor and members of the Dearborn City Council and Charter Commission were inaugurated at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center, where attendees were required to present proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test, and wear masks .

Hammoud has been mayor since January 1. He appointed the city’s first Muslim police chief as elected mayor.

After being sworn in, Hammoud began his speech with a quote from the late U.S. Representative John Dingell of Deaborn, who died at 92 in February 2019 after representing the state in Congress for 59 years. He was the longest serving congressman in American history.

“He said, and I quote, ‘The elected don’t have power, they hold the power and the trust of the people who elected them,'” Hammoud said. “Everything we do will start with this fundamental truth – that the people of Dearborn have the ultimate power.

“Having dedicated my life to public service, I know there is more wisdom in the public we serve than any elected official could ever dream of. Because every corner of our city brings something special. That makes Dearborn the rich and vibrant place we all love and call home.”

Hammoud succeeds John “Jack” O’Reilly Jr., the mayor since 2007, whose administration was criticized for its handling of flooding in suburban Detroit last summer.

The mayor portion of the inauguration program began with a video of Hammoud’s jubilant victory speech in November, reminding residents of the promise to represent everyone in the multicultural city with a history of racist leadership.

Dearborn’s longest-serving mayor, Orville Hubbard, who served from 1942 to 1978, was an outspoken segregationist who openly disparaged blacks, Jews, Middle Easterners and other groups in his public comments.

“It’s here in Dearborn that we believe that if you fight to lift the voices of the most marginalized, you lift us all,” Hammoud said in his victory speech.

“It’s here in Dearborn where we think you don’t need to change your name or your face, in this city we elect you based on which direction you’re leading, not which direction you’re leading from. you come.”

The former House lawmaker becomes just the seventh leader of the city of nearly 110,000 people.

Hammoud, 31, was raised in a working-class family in Dearborn. His parents immigrated from Lebanon and struggled to make ends meet before founding their own successful family business.

He attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he earned a master’s degree in public health and a master’s degree in business administration.

Hammoud worked as a health care consultant before being elected state representative for Michigan’s 15th district in 2016. He served three terms in the state legislature, where he helped pass 11 bills laws and resolutions.

His campaign touted funds he helped secure as a lawmaker, including $10 million for Dearborn Public Schools, $6.7 million to build the Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation of Henry Ford College as well as $1.25 million for a consolidated 911 dispatch center.

Hammoud drew praise from voters for a proposal to tackle property taxes, which residents say are higher than surrounding suburbs.

Dearborn’s mileage for a primary residence in 2020 ranged from 53.7 to 61.1 mills by school district, compared to 48.4 to 57.9 in Dearborn Heights, 51.1 in Taylor, and 44.7 to 56.8 in Westland.

Hammoud emphasized a five-part plan that he said would lower property taxes, generate new dollars for the city and improve operations. The proposal includes stimulating new housing and commercial development, and securing $100 million to pay off the city’s unfunded debt to fully fund the city’s pension obligations and other post-retirement benefits. employment.

That could be affected, he said, by an extra mile on the ballot asking voters to allow the city to levy 2.75 mills for three years beginning July 1 to fund operations such as the public security. This would cost the average homeowner $167 per year.

Hammoud supports a third-party assessment of the city’s sewage system and hopes to convert plots of land into retention ponds to manage excessive rainfall and evaluate the addition of relief valves for homes.

Dearborn is considered the birthplace of Ford Motor Co. and has garnered international attention as the hometown of Henry Ford, Greenfield Village, and as the most densely populated Arab-American community in the nation.

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Twitter: @kbouffardDN

Writer Mark Hicks contributed.

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