Hamtramck mayor finishes second in primary to newcomer, but not worried

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

Hamtramck primary voters on Tuesday decided to make the competition in the mayor's race something to watch this fall.

Challenger Amer Ghalib won 37% of the vote to Mayor Karen Majewski's 27% in a four candidate field. Asm Rahman, who ran in the 2017 primary, received 22% and Saad Almasmari had 14%, finishing third and fourth, respectively.

The demographics in the 2.1-square-mile community once known for its predominantly Polish background have shifted in the past two decades. More than 40% of Hamtramck's nearly 21,600 residents were foreign-born and 69% spoke a language other than English at home, according to 2019 U.S. Census estimates.

Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski.

In the 2015 election, the Hamtramck City Council became what some activists contended was the first majority-Muslim council in the country.

But since she has finished second in a primary before, Majewski said she's not too worried about her fate against Ghalib. 

"I've come in second on primary night before and I'm still here so...," the four-term mayor said Wednesday. "It doesn't particularly concern me. It just points to some potential strategies for the general election. The elections in Hamtramck are always hotly contested.

"This is kind of par for the course," Majewski added. "I've been there before."

Ghalib, who is a political newcomer, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

On his Facebook campaign page, Ghalib said on July 31 that he felt his campaign had the political momentum and that "this will be a campaign that uplifts the voices of all Hamtramck residents." He said on his Facebook page that his campaign was endorsed by three Yemeni political groups, including the Yemeni American Political Action Committee.

Amer Ghalib, candidate for Hamtramck mayor

Majewski, 66, previously served a term on the city council before running for mayor.

"I have never, ever seen an election in Hamtramck that did not have a primary," she said. "This is not anything new."