DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. – Dearborn Heights Mayor Dan Paletko has died after contracting COVID-19, the city announced early Wednesday morning.
The City of Dearborn Heights released the following statement on its Facebook page:
The City of Dearborn Heights is saddened to announce the sudden death late Tuesday of Mayor Dan Paletko from complications associated with COVID-19. More information will be posted as it becomes available.City of Dearborn Heights
In what could very well be the last recording of Paletko, the mayor wished Dearborn Heights residents happy holidays and shared his thoughts on 2020.
“This has been a year like no other,” Paletko said. “The most challenging and difficult in my political career.”
His colleagues said he thought he had pneumonia and went to the hospital Monday. They said he was experiencing minor issues and didn’t think it was coronavirus.
Paletko, 70, served as mayor since his appointment in 2004. He left his post in Michigan’s House of Representatives to take over. Paletko was a longtime member of the Dearborn Heights City Council.
Before he was an elected official, Paletko worked at Ford Motor Company as a financial advisor. He had degrees from the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and the University of Detroit.
Councilman Dave Abdullah said Paletko could have stayed in the private sector and made much more money, but he chose to work for the people instead.
“He could have had any job,” Abdallah said. “He chose to serve the city very humbly.”
Paletko leaves behind two daughters.
Dearborn Heights City Council president Denise Malinowski-Maxwell was sworn in as interim mayor Wednesday.