DEARBORN HEIGHTS – On Wednesday, a few days after coming in third place in the Aug. 8 primary election and advancing to the November general election, Dearborn Heights City Council Vice Chair Ray Muscat announced his resignation, citing “health reasons.”
Muscat’s resignation opens the door to a number of questions related to the composition of the Council during the next four months. These include appointing a replacement to complete the remainder of his term until January 1 and raising the question of whether his resignation will remove his name from the November ballot and how it would affect the results of the general elections in November and beyond.
After Muscat officially resigns on Monday, August 21, and the decision earlier of Council Chair Wassim (Dave) Abdallah not to seek re-election, the new Dearborn Heights City Council will most likely witness the election of at least two members from outside the current Council members.
In principle, the November ballot will include current member Mo Baydoun and candidates from outside the Council, Denise Malinowski Maxwell, Hassan Saab, Ahmed Al-Kaabi and Zuhair Abdel-Hak.
Muscat told The Arab American News on Thursday that he’s waiting to hear from the city clerk as to whether his name will remain on the ballot in November. He also said his decision to resign is final and that he asks voters not to cast a vote for him in November if his name remains on the ballot.
“I want to thank the Dearborn Heights voters who honored me with their vote of confidence in the August 8 primary elections, but I kindly request that they don’t vote for me in November if my name appears on the ballot,” Muscat said. He expressed his regret for not being able to complete his current term in the Dearborn Heights City Council. “I had hoped to continue providing my service to all residents, but my health conditions forced me to resign from the Council.”
If the Wayne County Clerk’s Office decides to remove Muscat’s name from the November ballot, will candidate Wissam Fadlallah, who came seventh in the primary, be put on the ballot as one of the six contenders who are seeking the three seats come November? The Arab American News posed that question to officials at the Secretary of State’s Office without getting a firm answer by press time.
Whatever the case is, it is expected that political divisions and tensions will deepen within the corridors of the Dearborn Heights City Hall, especially with the exit of Muscat, who is considered a solid supporter of Mayor Bill Bazzi.
Bazzi has been subjected to a smear campaign orchestrated by former City Councilman Abdel-Hak. On July 25, the Wayne County Election Commission unanimously rejected a petition submitted by Abdel-Hak to recall Mayor Bazzi.
Abdallah told The Arab American News that the Council will address and vote on whether to accept or reject Muscat’s resignation during its scheduled meeting on Tuesday, August 22. Once his resignation is accepted by the Council an advertisement will be posted seeking candidates to replace him for the rest of his current term. The Council will then interview the applicants in a public forum and vote to elect a replacement. The candidate must receive at least four out of six votes to be appointed.
If Muscat’s name remains on the November ballot and he happens to be one of the top three vote getters, he will be replaced by the same process, but his replacement will serve a partial term until a municipal election is held in 2025.