HAMTRAMCK — New members of Hamtramck’s first all-Muslim City Council and its first Muslim Arab American mayor, Amer Ghalib, were sworn in on Sunday, Jan. 2
Judge Alexis Krot swore in Ghalib and new Council members Khalil Al-Refai, Amanda Jaczkowski and Adam Albarmaki. They joined current Councilmen Mohammed Hassan and Mohammed Alsomiri on the stage and delivered remarks.
At the ceremony, 14-year-old Maria Saad, a Yemeni American student from Dearborn, sang the national anthem.
The speakers included former Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski, who lost last November’s election to Ghalib after 16 years of public service. Local officials and former Mayor Pro Tem Fadel Al-Marsoumi were also in attendance.
City Manager Kathy Angerer served as master of ceremonies.
“As veteran of many of these ceremonies, I know how deeply meaningful and moving they are,” Majewski said.
The atmosphere definitely reflected that meaningfulness on Sunday, as a large crowd, many from the local Yemeni American community, gathered inside the city’s high school and community center to witness a historic inauguration of the first all-Muslim elected city government in the country.
“As a community we have become the exception to what was previously thought of as impossible,” Ghalib said as he stood on the stage at the school he graduated from some 20 years ago.
As a community we have become the exception to what was previously thought of as impossible. — Hamtramck Mayor Amer Ghalib
Ghalib told the story of a school adviser who discouraged him from his interest in political science studies in college due to his accent and an immigrant background, saying he didn’t have a future in politics.
Ghalib instead studied medicine and currently works in health care, but eventually returned to politics out of a passion for public service to his community.
Throughout his campaign, he has promised to work towards unity and healing in a city that has recently seen ideological division over such hot button topics as marijuana dispensaries and the flying of the gay pride flag at City Hall during pride month.
Hamtramck, which has a weak mayoral system in which the city manager conducts day-to-day business, also has economic challenges to deal with. This includes infrastructure problems of flooding and road repair, as well as a large police and fire retirement system obligation that the city is attempting to find creative ways to meet.
The 2020 Census showed Hamtramck has had the second-highest population increase in Michigan over 2010 numbers. The 2020 Census showed a total of 28,433 residents, a 26.8 percent increase from 10 years ago.