DEARBORN HEIGHTS — In a 3-0 vote, the Wayne County Elections Commission rejected a recall petition levied against Mayor Bill Bazzi due to insufficient clarity.
The recall petition had been filed on July 7 by former Treasurer and Councilman Zouher Abdel-Hak, who is running for a seat on the City Council in the upcoming primary elections.
I am grateful to the members of the Wayne County Elections Commission for their swift decision to reject this frivolous recall petition. The first step in putting this nonsense behind us so we can fully focus our efforts on serving the residents and businesses of our community. – Mayor Bill Bazzi
Despite Abdel-Hak’s attorney stating that the petition was filed due to the hiring of four members of the police department’s command staff, Bazzi’s attorney said the petition was unclear as it did not specify which of the 23 segments of Act 78 were violated.
“In order to defend this recall, the mayor has to understand which process it is that he’s alleged to have violated in the Civil Service Act… there are 23 sections of Act 78,” said Bazzi’s attorney, Thomas Bruetsch. “We have no idea what section he violated and for that reason, we propose this petition should be denied.”
Commission Chairman Freddie Burton, who also serves as the chief judge of the Wayne County Probate Court, said that he felt the petition needed a legal response.
There was no discussion amongst Burton and the other two commissioners, Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett and Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree.
“I am grateful to the members of the Wayne County Elections Commission for their swift decision to reject this frivolous recall petition,” Bazzi said. “The first step in putting this nonsense behind us so we can fully focus our efforts on serving the residents and businesses of our community. I was appointed as mayor by the Dearborn Heights City Council on January 20, 2021, to fill the vacancy left by the passing of Mayor Dan Paletko. I was then chosen by our residents to retain my position in the November 2021 election — with my official term beginning in January 2022.”
In order to defend this recall, the mayor has to understand which process it is that he’s alleged to have violated in the Civil Service Act… there are 23 sections of Act 78. We have no idea what section he violated and for that reason, we propose this petition should be denied.
– Thomas Bruetsch, Mayor Bazzi’s attorney
Bazzi said that he took on the role of mayor because he wanted to do what he could to fix some of the things that he, as a resident, observed as being an issue in the city.
“I chose to take on the role of our community’s mayor because, as a resident, I saw the fiscal, social and civil unfairness in both our police department and throughout the city— and vowed, if given the chance, I would do my best to correct it,” he said. “There was a well-earned reputation for favoritism, and it was commonly understood that both the courtesies shown and the quality of service residents received depended on who they knew in the ‘city circles.’ Since taking office, I’ve taken appropriate action within my authority to address these and more issues to put our hard-working residents first — and above the politically connected.”
Bazzi said that to do this, he has been tasked with “immensely important initiatives” that include bringing a solution to the flooding problem in the Ecorse Creek flood zone; facilitating a new, community-minded and more efficient direction in the police department and bringing in a new leadership team that will embrace the direction; facilitating a new culture within the city to emphasize transparency and accountability; instituting a zero tolerance policy towards all types of harassment and bullying and restoring the Warren Valley Golf Course, all of which, Bazzi said, are designed to bring the city back to “respectability.”
“My goal, through all these tasks and more, is to improve the quality of life for our residents, better support our business owners and bring our community back to the level of good standing and respectability with our colleagues in the state of Michigan, Wayne County and many of our fellow surrounding communities,” he said. “I’m happy to say we are making remarkable progress in these areas and more. Despite our many successes, though, those who embrace the shameless, ‘back door’ political effort to divide our city still exist. Nonetheless, our efforts are receiving an outpouring of support from residents and business owners alike who see that Dearborn Heights is back on the right track — and their voices of constructive dialogue are once again welcomed by an administration that both listens to and respects them.”
Bazzi said that, regardless, he will continue to fight for the community.
“As I’ve always done, I will continue to fight for fairness and justice,” he said. “On a personal note, I credit my status as a proud retiree of the U.S. Marines and the oath I took for my dedication to serve my country and my community without waiver or thought of betrayal. My mission to serve and protect remains strong, and will continue to be my sole focus throughout my tenure as your mayor.”
Bazzi’s full comment can be found on his Facebook page.
Abdel-Hak has the option of appealing the ruling to a court, filing a new petition or choosing not to continue with his recall efforts.