DEARBORN – Five candidates have thrown their hats in the ring for Dearborn’s mayor. Their names will appear on the August 8 primary election ballot. The top two will advance to the general elections on November 7.
The AANews asked the candidates the following questions:
Q1. Why do you feel you are a qualified candidate for the job?
Q2. What is one of the biggest challenges facing the city and what would you do to meet it?
Q3. How do you see the Arab American presence in the city and your relationship with the community?
And below are their answers accordingly:
Education: Woodworth Elementary, Fordson High School, Henry Ford College, University of Michigan-Dearborn.
Profession: Financial adviser.
Family: Married with two children.
A1. I know this community and I have never left it. I’ve seen the changing face of our city over the decades and I fully embrace it. Also, my 38 years in the private sector has taught me high-level management and deep interpersonal skills. Further, I have compiled massive experience and contacts that I want to bring to Dearborn’s benefit. I can help make Dearborn a destination for business and tourism, which we have struggled with as a city. Our campaign’s mantra is something I deeply believe in: Diversity. Unity. Prosperity.
A2. Dearborn is located between a renaissance city of Detroit and the nation’s best airport. We should be able to sell this city as destination for business. High-tech companies are coming to Michigan, but not to Dearborn. I believe it is because we don’t have an administration with any experience or savvy in these areas. I bring all of this to the table. Also, we need to embrace our diversity and fully practice it. I want to implement practices to make our city workforce look more like our population.
A3. The Arab American population is growing in Dearborn every day. It is time to fully embrace that. In business, I have worked with partners from a number of backgrounds, including Arab and Muslim Americans. Any business in Dearborn would strive to have a workforce that looks like its population. Currently, the city of Dearborn does not. I want diversity in opinion, background, experiences and culture to be at the center of hiring practices. Also, equal governmental treatment of all sections of the city will be central to me: east side, west side, and Southend.
Thomas Patrick Tafelski
Education: Dearborn Public Schools, Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan.
Profession: Financial professional specializing in retirement planning and wealth management for individuals, Dearborn City Council President Pro Tem.
Family: Father of three sons.
A1. Experience, energy and a long history of public service and private sector success. In sixteen years of service on City Council – six as Council President and four as President Pro Tem – I have always been a strong advocate for neighborhoods, public safety and our business community. I would make these priorities as mayor. Dearborn must be more forward-thinking to secure a brighter future, and my experience would enable me to hit the ground running on day one.
A2. My first goal is to re-establish leadership and confidence in City Hall. Every neighborhood and business owner must feel like they have someone who listens to their concerns. While the mayor is responsible for ensuring the city provides high-quality services in an efficient manner, he or she is also supposed to be an advocate for constituents. That’s something I’ve always taken seriously on City Council and I would continue to do so as mayor.
A3. Arab Americans have been an integral part of Dearborn for more than 100 years, from the leading role they’ve played in the revitalization of the Southend and Warren Avenue business districts to the richness they’ve added to the city’s culture, vibrancy and strength. Having grown up and gone to school on the east side of Dearborn, I have been a part of the Arab American community and culture my entire life and I am proud of it.
John B. O’Reilly, Jr. (incumbent)
Education: Juris doctor from the University of Detroit.
Profession: Current Mayor of Dearborn.
Family: Married with three sons.
A1. I am more qualified than the other candidates running for mayor because of my educational background, my working history inside and outside of government, my widespread network of key leaders, my accomplishments in this office and my high ethical standards. For Dearborn residents this means that I bring not only a vision but the capacity to make that vision a reality. It means I can lead people through good times and through bad times, marshaling our resources to meet and exceed expectations. It also means that I will continue to put their interests first regardless of the difficulty or consequences.
A2. The way cities in Michigan are funded is broken and the result is higher property taxes. We need to develop a more diversified funding system for cities, which was one of the key initiatives we pursued after I was elected president of the Michigan Municipal League. We are continuing to work on this initiative in Lansing and hope to have a solution in place soon. Meanwhile, we will continue to use our limited resources wisely to see crime rates drop further, to improve fire safety, to strengthen our neighborhoods and to manage the revitalization of our core business districts.
A3. As the mayor of Dearborn I see residents, not nationalities, which means all of our citizens regardless of where they came from, where they live, or how long they have called Dearborn home deserve the best possible service I can provide for them. We are blessed to have such a diverse population where stereotypes and stigmas are regularly broken and the bonds of friendship are nurtured every day. Our Arab American residents have found a community where they could pursue better lives for themselves and their children. I am grateful for their presence and their continuing contributions to Dearborn.
Education: Henry Ford College.
Family: Married with five children.
A1. As the only candidate with 30+ years of success in the private sector, I am uniquely prepared to lead the city of Dearborn. In my career as a businessman, I have led multiple projects which have had a positive economic impact on Dearborn, specifically in the West Dearborn Business District. When making decisions that will impact the lives of our residents, I will not be swayed by external pressure or special interests.
A2. One of the biggest challenges facing our city is the systematic decline in city services. The level and quality of city services is one of the main things families consider when deciding where to live. Our tax dollars have been woefully mishandled, which has led to a decline in services like maintaining public parks & pools, neighborhood activities and an undermanned police force. This will change under my leadership.
A3. As the only Arab American mayoral candidate, I am the only one who will be able to build bridges between the difference within the Arab community first and then bring together all residents tighter as a ONE Dearborn, once and for all.
Edward John Binkley
Education: Business management.
A1. I feel that the first step that must be taken is we need to hire more bilingual police officers and scout cars to have them patrol our neighborhoods and parks and this will cut down on some of the drug activity, also. I will not order the chief of police to do anything but let him run his department.
A2. I see the population growing daily. I will work with the community and accept any recommended ideas they have to offer on an equal value in all parts of the city. They are one of our greatest assets we have in the community and their businesses. I believe in strong family ties and my door will be open for all walks of life. If they need something within reason, I will try and correct the problems.