HAMTRAMCK – Voters in the Aug. 8 primary election rejected the school millage renewal and elected six City Council candidates, including five Muslims and an LGBTQ supporter, to advance to the November elections and compete for the three open seats.
Lynn Blasey, who favors the flying of LGBTQ+ flags on government property, came in third place among the nine candidates who ran for the three Council seats. If Blasey, a community arts worker, wins a seat in the Nov. 7 general elections, she will be the only woman and the only non-Muslim member of the Council.
The votes tallied in the seven precincts in the city — in which Muslims of Yemeni and Bengali origin constitute about two-thirds of its population of about 28,000 residents — revealed the advancement of the three Muslim Council members seeking to keep their seats, along with three challengers, including two Muslims who are running for public positions for the first time.
Councilman Nayeem Choudhury earned the most votes in Tuesday’s primary, with 858 votes (16.22 percent), followed by Councilman Mohammed Alsomiri, 853 votes (16.12 percent).
Blasey garnered 813 votes (15.37 percent of the total vote), slightly ahead of Councilman and Mayor Pro-Tem Mohammad Hassan, who’d introduced a Council resolution that passed unanimously in June, banning the flying of LGBTQ+, political and religious flags on government property.
Blasey was the only candidate to publicly support LGBTQ+ flags.
“Thank you to everyone that voted for me!” she wrote on Facebook. “I appreciate your support.”
Hassan came in fourth place, with 809 votes or 15.29 percent.
Muhtasin Sadman received 689 votes (13.02 percent) and Nasr Hussain earned 427 votes (8.07 percent).
The three candidates eliminated in the primary race were Yousuf Saed, who received 395 votes (7.47 percent); Sari Ahmed, 291 votes (5.50 percent) and Ruhel Amin, 113 votes (2.14 percent).
The candidates — all of whom are Muslim except Blasey — reflected the changing demographics of Hamtramck, which currently has the only all-Muslim City Council in the U.S.
The Council currently includes four members of Bengali origin (Choudhury, Hassan, Mahmoud and Abu Musa) and two of Yemeni origin (Alsomiri and Khalil Refai). In addition, Mayor Amer Ghalib, who presides over the Council meetings and has the right to vote as a seventh member, is also of Yemeni origin.
Although the voter turnout in Hamtramck on Tuesday exceeded the 16.6 percent average turnout in other cities that held primaries in Wayne County, Muslim activists expressed their dissatisfaction about the low turnout, which amounted to 17.64 percent or 2,535 voters out of the 14,372 registered in the city.
Hamtramck is the first city in Michigan in which its citizens can vote in three languages. Ballots are available in Arabic, Bengali and English.
During their campaigns candidates primarily focused their social media platforms on a number of issues of concern to the residents of Hamtramck, foremost of which are reducing property taxes, business developments, improving the standard of living, fighting crime and addressing reckless driving, in addition to strengthening unity among residents.
The Nov. 7 general election will determine which three of the six candidates will be elected to the Council.
Big NO to school millage renewal
A majority of Hamtramck voters rejected a proposal to renew a 3 mills School Millage proposal (3 per thousand of the value of the property) for a 10-year period from 2024 to 2033. The millage, which was reduced from 4 mills to 3 mills, was soundly defeated 66.56 percent to 33.44 percent. The millage renewal would have raised $760,000 to build or repair schools buildings. The proposal was supported by Hamtramck Schools Superintendent Jaleelah Ahmed, but some residents concerned about high taxes opposed it.