HFC alumnus and dining services professional runs for Dearborn City Council
Note: Henry Ford College does not endorse candidates for political office. This article is for informational purposes and should not be construed as an endorsement.
HFC alumnus Kamel Elkadri is running for Dearborn City Council to give back to the City of Dearborn.
“Dearborn has given my family and me so much. I want that same opportunity for others. I was lucky enough to have Dearborn welcome my father, an immigrant, who had the opportunity to have a career at Ford Motor Company and start a family in this city. I want to say my parents raised me, but in all reality, Dearborn raised me, from the long summer days at Ford Woods Park to the schools and services that Dearborn offers. It really is like no other city. Dearborn is family. Everyone knows everyone, and we all help each other out. I see my friends and family leaving the city for neighboring cities, and we need them to stay,” said Elkadri.
22 years in the food service industry
A lifelong Dearborn resident, Elkadri is married to Mariam, who teaches 3rd grade at Miller Elementary School in Dearborn. Together, they have three children: Mohamed, 10, Maya, 8, and Mera, 4. Since 1999, Elkadri has worked at Henry Ford Village, the Dearborn-based retirement community. He is currently the Director of Dining Services at HFV, a position he has held for six years.
“I started working at HFV when I was 14,” he recalled. “It was a summer job that turned into a career. I loved everything about the interaction with the senior citizens who live there. As opportunities opened up, I took them, always learning new skills to make it to the next level.”
Elkadri continued: “Food is big in our family. My mother is a great cook and my father cooked as well in his early years here. Food brings people together, and there is a story behind every meal that is prepared. I started in the HFV dining rooms… My older brother worked there and helped me get a summer job. I really enjoyed it there and stayed. Seeing the smiles, the laughter, and the satisfaction of someone enjoying something you prepared or served is gratifying and drives you to do more.”
“HFC’s programs are the best”
An alumnus of Fordson High School, Elkadri enrolled at HFC (then Henry Ford Community College). Initially, he studied pre-engineering at HFC and transferred to the University of Michigan-Dearborn. There, he completed coursework in mechanical engineering and business.
“At that time, engineering jobs were hard to find, and engineers were getting laid off, so I switched to business,” said Elkadri. “I was also furthering my career at HFV and starting my own family, so I took a break from school.”
Elkadri did return to HFC and earned his associate degree in HVAC. He transferred to Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, NH, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration and an MBA in leadership.
He explained why he earned his associate degree in HVAC, which has allowed him to troubleshoot when coolers and refrigerators have broken down at HFV.
“HFC’s programs are the best -- well-recognized and respected. This includes nursing, culinary arts, and HVAC. They were being taught by professors who are in the field,” said Elkadri. “I really enjoyed the construction industry – electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling. It’s an industry that’s always in demand and always evolving. Since I was a little kid, I would follow my father around and help him out with his rental properties. I remember standing on the sidewalk, watching the homes around me getting built. I told my elementary school teacher that I was going to build her a house, so I took drafting and CAD classes at Fordson and the College. It’s a skill that can be used in many different ways.”
Running for City Council
Elkadri is one of 18 candidates running for City Council. He commented about the large group of candidates.
“My father always told me to put my head down and work and not worry about what others are doing,” he said. “Every chance I get, I am working on my campaign, from late nights to long weekends. I announced my candidacy on a Friday evening and started knocking doors the following Saturday morning with my family. I am dedicated and not afraid to put in the work.”
One of his major goals is bringing in new residents and businesses to the city.
“Like our residents that we need to retain, we also need to attract new residents. We also need to retain and attract new businesses. We need to be welcoming for businesses, streamline the process to get them into a building, and then up and running. We need to reduce the red tape,” said Elkadri. “We also need to support our youth. We can do that by helping them start and grow their businesses through education and finding them a space to operate. Ramadan Nights brings so many people together from surrounding areas to try the pop-up food stands, which are great. However, after the 30 nights, they are gone until the following year. We should be able to support these young entrepreneurs and get them educated to run successful businesses, not only in the food industry, but any other industry. Other cities have programs like this, and some very successful businesses are born.”
Elkadri also hopes to improve city services across Dearborn and alleviate pollution. This includes air quality, noise pollution, and water pollution. Safety is another important topic.
“Distracted driving and reckless driving are major issues. I cannot allow my kids to play in the front yard or ride their bikes on the sidewalk because drivers are unsafe,” he said. “The police cannot be everywhere. Parents must educate the younger generation of driving age about the dangers of texting while driving, and drag-racing. They need to understand and follow safe driving practices.”
“Everyone in Dearborn is family”
“Family is very important for me. Everyone in Dearborn is family, no matter what country you are from, whatever religion you practice, whatever your age is. Everyone helps everyone,” said Elkadri. “I know that if my parents ever needed anything and I was not around, one of our neighbors would help out. I have done the same for my neighbors. That is what’s so unique about Dearborn. Not many cities across the country can say that. Dearborn has great parks, services, and amazing response times from our police and fire departments. Dearborn has a great history and culture. It is a great place to live, to work, and to grow.”