Dearborn will elect a new mayor for the first time since 2007 -- but which 2 candidates will advance?

Here’s a breakdown of the 7 mayoral candidates in Tuesday’s primary

Michigan officials still fighting spread of misinformation ahead of Aug. primary
Michigan officials still fighting spread of misinformation ahead of Aug. primary

Tuesday marks the Michigan Primary Election, leaving voters with many important decisions up and down the ballot.

In Dearborn, residents will vote on a proposal to revisit the city’s charter, decide on a library millage, select new members to City Council, and choose a new mayor for the first time since 2007.

Current Mayor John O’Reilly is not running for re-election, as he deals with health issues that have kept him from speaking publicly.

Dearborn will elect only its seventh mayor in the general election come November.

The upcoming election has had a high focus on issues such as taxation, COVID-19, crime and public safety, transparency, and, most recently, flooding and infrastructure, following multiple rain events this summer. This primary also marks the first time a sample ballot will be offered in Arabic.

There is a diverse group of seven candidates on the primary ballot. The top two will advance to the general election. 18 candidates, including 14 newcomers, are vying for city council seats.

Also see: 2021 Michigan Primary Election on Aug. 3: What to know before voting


Here are the mayoral candidates:

Hussein Berry

Berry is a current representative on the school board for Dearborn Public Schools, winning a six-year term in 2016. He has a background in real estate, and ran for the Michigan House of Representatives in 2012 and 2014. Berry has called for action regarding flood infrastructure, more enforcement when it comes to cracking down on reckless driving, and expanded recreation services.

Susan Dabaja

Dabaja is currently serving a second term as Dearborn City Council president. In 2004, she earned her Juris Doctorate from University of Detroit-Mercy School of Law, and has been a practicing attorney for 17 years. In 2016, Dabaja narrowly lost the general election for 19th District Judge to Gene Hunt. She has served as the city’s main public figure in light of Mayor O’Reilly’s lack of public appearances.

O’Reilly has endorsed Dabaja’s candidacy.

Abdullah Hammoud

Hammoud has served as Dearborn’s representative in the Michigan House of Representatives since 2017, prioritizing issues such as the environment, civil rights, and working-class families. He graduated from the University of Michigan with master’s degrees in public health and business administration, and a bachelor of science.

Central to Hammoud’s campaign are COVID-19 recovery, road safety and property taxes.

Jim Parrelly

Parrelly is running for mayor as an “outsider” candidate, having never held elected office. He has served as a financial planner for 40 years. Like most of the candidates, he is a lifelong Dearborn resident.

Parrelly has cited mismanagement of taxpayer money and lack of proper infrastructure as major issues facing the city.

Tom Tafelski

Tafelski has the most experience in city office of all the candidates. Tafelski was first elected to City Council in 2001, and served as the council president from 2007 to 2013. Prior to City Council, he was appointed by then-mayor Michael Guido to the City Planning Commission and the City Beautiful Commission.

He was defeated by O’Reilly in the 2017 general election.

Kalette Willis

A Henry Ford College student, Willis is the first African-American woman to run for mayor of Dearborn. She served in the Michigan Army National Guard from 2009 to 2019, and was deployed to Kuwait and Iraq during that time. She said if she’s elected, she would prioritize police reform and improving services like trash and recycling pickup.

Gary Woronchak

Woronchak spent more than 20 years as a journalist before seeking elected office. He was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 1998 and served three terms, touting policies like cutting the state income tax and guaranteeing more funding for Dearborn Public Schools.

In 2004, Woronchak was elected as a Wayne County commissioner, and in 2011, the commission elected him chairman. He served until 2018, when he ran unsuccessfully for state Senate.