Former Mayor Chuck Goedert Appointed to Hazel Park Court
(Crystal A. Proxmire)
The 43rd District Court has faced some shuffling around, and now a former Ferndale Mayor has been appointed by Governor Jennifer Granholm to be the judge on the Hazel Park bench.
Charles Goedert (affectionately known as “Chuck” by those in Ferndale who know of him and his work) served on City Council from 1992-1995 and as Mayor from 1996-2002. He grew up in Ferndale and graduated from Ferndale High School and started his family here. He has been a lawyer at the firm of Dickinson Wright for over ten years, a job which he put on hold in order to accept Granholm’s appointment to the court.
Judge Robert Turner retired after 21 years from the bench in Madison Heights, and Judge Keith Hunt moved from Hazel Part to Madison Heights to fill the vacancy, leaving Hazel Park open. When Granholm offered Goedert the job, he considered it an honor to be in the position of being called “your Honor.” He will have to run in a public election in 2012 in order to keep the job.
Goedert graduated from Wayne State University and University of Michigan Law School with an interest in “helping people in a democracy, which is often done though the laws of that democracy,” he said in a recent Ferndale 115 News interview.
“When I was a Councilperson and Mayor having the skills of an attorney were extremely helpful in a lot that we did to revitalize Ferndale.”
Goedert’s time in public service was a time of great change in the city.
“Before I was on council the Planning Commission had a plan to put in a ring road around 9 Mile and demolish the neighborhood to put in a mall,” he said. “I got involved to save the neighborhood.” Once the mall plan was abandoned, the City had to come up with some way to attract investment and growth.
“Downtown had become almost vacant. Businesses had their front doors locked and were using the font windows for storage,” he recalled. He and other City leaders took steps that helped restore Ferndale to a place Goedert calls “a hip Norman Rockwellian town.”
Some of the key changes included:
●Using BUILD Grant programs to gave businesses access to tax increment financing to restore their properties
●Crafting ordinances that required Downtown businesses to leave their front doors unlocked during business hours
●Rebuilding the sidewalks and streets of West 9 Mile to slow down traffic, making it a destination spot and not just a thoroughfare to somewhere else
●Beautification of streetscapes
●Refocusing DDA (Downtown Development Authority) management positions on assisting business development
●Bringing in events that allow people to come to Ferndale and enjoy the Downtown
●Overhauled zoning ordinances
●Working to maintain strong police and fire services
●Opening up participation on Boards and Commission to get more citizen involvement
●Tightened reigns on Civil Service
●Overhauled City government to make it more transparent by tapping into local resources and getting more people involved.
Goedert fondly remembered supporting the group of citizens who were campaigning for a bond to fund water, street, and sewer services, as well as other citizen initiatives that came up in his time on Council.
“That was also when the Dream Cruise was started. That was something that we saw as an opportunity to put Ferndale on the map,” he said. “I’ll never forget the day Nelson House walked into the City Council meeting with two high schools girls in 1950s poodle skirts with a boom box playing oldies music and did a little presentation about how a cruise event on Woodward could help raise money for a soccer field. It was literally a Field of Dreams. That one idea turned into a phenomenon for the entire region.”
Other Ferndale events that Goedert can take at least some credit for include hosting the first gay commitment ceremony in Ferndale, lobbying Lansing to release more liquor licenses to expand business in the city, cleaning up the Reichold Chemical Plant, and an overhaul of ordinances for landlord licensing and code enforcement.
He took a break from political life in 2002 in order to raise his three children, two of who are still students in the Ferndale School system. The third is a freshman in college. “I spend a lot of time doing theatre set construction, being a band parent and making sure to be at as many soccer games as possible,” he says.
Goedert began hearing cases September 13, but his official investiture ceremony is later this month. As District Court Judge he makes rulings in civil and criminal cases, as well as ruling in traffic court. He said that Magistrate Jim Paterson and other staff at the Court have been very helpful as he settles in to the post. “I’m a new judge learning my job,” he said. “I look at cases based on the facts and I make the best decision that I can.
Everyone is welcome to come to the investiture ceremony at Hazel Park Junior High School (22770 Highland, Hazel Park) on October 28, 2010 at 6:00 pm. Reservations must be made by October 25 by emailing email@example.com or calling 248-414-5966.
NOTE: Original title photo was lost in the website upgrade, current photo is from 2014. (Oct. 2014 updated)