COMMUNITY — With election results rolling in nationwide, winners have been announced in local elections in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights.
In Dearborn, Adel Mozip(14,356 votes), Irene Watts (12,781 votes) and Mary Petlichkoff (12,278 votes) were each elected to the full term seats on the Board of Education, with Patrick D’Ambrosio (10,694 votes) being elected for the partial term.
All candidates told The Arab American News that their priorities included the safe return to school for students and staff in the district.
“Until there is a tested and proven vaccine, approved by credible medical and scientific experts, distance learning will have to be employed to reduce the numbers of face-to-face students and ensure social distancing,” D’Ambrosio had said. “We need to study the safest and best practices across the country and overseas.”
Mozip said he was dedicated to the emotional state of students as well.
“My current top priorities for the K-12 are: Safe return to in-person quality instruction, the safety of our students, teachers and staff, as well as social-emotional learning,” he said. “Return to in-person instruction must be guided by science and health experts.”
Petlichkoff said that a safe education was a priority.
“Priority issues are supporting students/staff and parents during the pandemic and balancing the competing needs of safety and education,” she said. “Learning loss, social/emotional traumas and reopening strategies are number one issues.”
Watts had a similar response, with a focus on the mental health of students and staff.
“My first issue is ensuring our schools are safe for students and staff members,” she said. “All of our children have experienced trauma due to COVID-19. It is imperative that we address their social and emotional needs daily to mitigate any long term effects caused by trauma. COVID-19 is also affecting our teachers and support staff.
“We are seeing a teacher shortage combined with teacher burnout within the first month of school. This is a problem that adversely affects students and teachers alike. We need to ensure that all staff members have received social and emotional professional development and (been) given support for proper implementation.”
In Dearborn Heights’ Crestwood School District, incumbent Sue Kaminsky (5,112 votes) and newcomer Mo Sabbagh (4,112 votes) were elected to the school board.
Kaminsky has served on the board for five and a half years.
“I was always involved in my kids’ schools and the community as well; I just couldn’t run for a position sooner because of my job,” she said. “I believe in our community and I am excited to see the growth in this community.”
Sabbagh said he is committed to the success of the district.
“I’m an advocate for positive change,” he said. “I want to make sure we have the right people to get to the next level. My goal is a 100 percent success rate for all students. I want this district to be as successful as other districts.”
In the D7 District, incumbent Mandy Diroff (2,354 votes) and newcomers Latanya Gater (2,066 votes), Derek Wall (2,026 votes) and Nathaniel Cann (2,089 votes) were elected to the school board.
Gater said her intentions are to bridge the current gap.
“The guiding force that has led me to run for school board is to bridge the current gaps between accessing educational and mental health services for all families,” she said. “I also aspire to work with current leadership to find ways to increase public education funding and consequently enhance learning spaces.”
Wall had also said that he had a skillset beneficial to the district.
“I am running for school board so that I can contribute my skills to improve our education system,” he said. “I have a background in nursing with experience in emergency room and care management.
“I have been on disaster preparedness committees and committees to review and improve communication skills between physicians and nurses to increase efficiency of patient care. I want to see an increase in the graduation rate of our students and feel my background can help create an improvement. I have wanted to run for school board in the past, but was working midnight shifts during the time of the school board meeting. My work schedule has been fixed for the past two years and I can commit the time and hours to be at every meeting and focus on our education system and how it can be improved.”
Cann said that he decided to run for school board to provide a calming factor in the district.
“I have a passion for education, I have taught on the adult level and know how important it is to influence our children now to get the students prepared to be greater,” he said. “I feel I’m a good candidate to sit on the board of education for D7 because I want to help provide a calming factor for all to listen and work together.”
For the partial term of treasurer in Dearborn Heights, currently filled by Zouher Abdel-Hak, City Council members Bob Constan and Lisa Hicks-Clayton were in a heated and tense battle for the position over the last two months. Ultimately, Hicks-Clayton was elected to fill the seat with 11,834 votes.
“I am truly humbled and grateful for your support, words of encouragement and everyone,” Hicks-Clayton said. “This is only possible because of you. I will work for you and your family and our community, I will not disappoint you. Thank you, Dearborn Heights.”
This transition will open a seat on the City Council, which many believe Abdel-Hak will be appointed to once Hicks-Clayton is sworn in as treasurer.