Roslyn Grafstein Appointed Mayor of Madison Heights

Roslyn Grafstein Appointed Mayor of Madison Heights

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Aug. 6, 2020)

Madison Heights, MI – After weeks of deadlock, Madison Heights City Council voted Wednesday to appoint Roslyn Grafstein to the position of Mayor to serve out the term vacated by Brian Hartwell when he accepted an appointment to 43rd District Court Judge.

The judicial appointment was announced June 3, leaving Grafstein as Acting Mayor due to her position as Mayor Pro Tem at the time.  City Council had 60 days to fill the vacancy or to opt for a special election.  Had they not made a decision, Grafstein would have remained as Acting Mayor until a special election could be held.

Until the last minute, the vote was split.  Emily Rohrbach and Kymmburleigh Clark were in support of Grafstein continuing to lead.  Mark Bliss, Robert Corbett, and David Soltis had been opposed to her appointment, yet Soltis eventually voted yes.

In spite of having voted for her appointment as Mayor Pro Tem, whose job is to fill in for the Mayor as needed, the three councilmen argued that Grafstein did not have as many years experience as any of them.  Grafstein has been serving on council for three years.

At the July 27th meeting Grafstein defended herself against the claim that she lacked experience by talking about her experiences with the Michigan Municipal League, the network she has already built with officials in surrounding cities, and other ways she has been active compared to the council people who were questioning her capabilities.  She had also stepped in when Mayor Hartwell was out of town and the chemical waste at Electro-Plating Services was discovered.  She attended meetings with various agencies, spoke to the press, and continued to be active in the followup even after Hartwell returned.

“The appointee should have a few more years of city council experience,” said Bliss at the special meeting held Wednesday via Zoom.  “There are three members of council that I would support who are not in their first term.”

Corbett, who has served for over two decades, said he was “active back int he 70s and 80,” and that local politics “was very personality driven, and I’m concerned that is what’s happening this evening.”

Rohrbach and Clark held firm in their support of Grafstein.  “It comes down to a few things for me,” Rohrbach said. The first was that anyone would still be able to run for Mayor in the Nov. 2021 election.  The second was that having a special election would be an unnecessary expense.  The third was that Grafstein would continue to be acting mayor until the special election, and it would only be a short time after the election before the next one.  She said it would be “unduly disruptive, expensive, and irresponsible.”

Soltis began the meeting in favor of holding a special election, but changed his mind for the final vote.  Bliss and Corbett voted no, and Grafstein was appointed with a 4-2 vote.

Her appointment leaves a council vacancy that by charter will go the the next highest vote-getter of the most recent election.  In the Nov. 5, 2019 election then-councilperson Robert Gettings had 2341 votes – losing his seat by just six votes.  His appointment will be on the Aug. 10, 2020 city council agenda, and it will be up to him if he chooses to accept it.

During the discussion, City Attorney Jeffrey Sherman explained the role of the Mayor to put it in context for the residents watching at home.

The Mayor has one vote, just like any member of city council.  They cannot make or second motions, but they do get to run the meetings, represent the city at certain functions, and perform weddings.  The day to day operations of the city actually fall under the purview of the City Manager.

The Mayor position pays approximately $9,405 per year. The Mayor Pro Tem makes $7,249, and a councilperson makes $6,588.

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