(Crystal A. Proxmire)
At the council meeting of Jan. 10, 2011, the Ferndale City Council considered the applications of twelve individuals and selected three to interview for the position of Mayor, which is open since former Mayor Craig Covey became elected to County Commission and had to resign the post.
Former County Commissioner Dave Coulter, Ferndale TimeBank founder Michelle Foster, and Former Mayor Bob Porter were chosen by council to return on Jan. 24 to be interviewed for the position of Mayor. Their term will then run until the end of this year.
Kate Baker has stepped up as the Mayor Pro Tem and will serve until one of those applicants is sworn in to take over.
Dave Coulter represented Ferndale, Hazel Park and the southernmost area of Royal Oak as representative on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners from 2003 to 2010. He resigned the seat in order to run for State Senate. He was unsuccessful in that race, and now that former Mayor Craig Covey has taken his old Commission seat he is free to fill the vacancy a little closer to home.
“Obviously serving my hometown as mayor would be a great honor for me,” Coulter said. “But it also wouldn’t feel like a time to celebrate too much, either. The economic tsunami in Michigan has left Council with some huge financial challenges. I’ve dealt with the same issues in county government for eight years now, where fiscally conservative practices helped us create a balanced budget every year. And we passed them unanimously, so I think Lansing or Washington could learn something from us about working in a bipartisan way. We started the budget process early, and we passed multi-year budgets that forced us to look ahead. We communicated often, were willing to explore new ways of doing things, and ultimately developed the kind of relationships where we could make tough decisions together. I’m proud of the role I played in helping pass budgets in Oakland County, and I guess that’s the experience I would bring to the budget task in Ferndale if I’m selected.”
Michelle Foster is known around town for organizing the Ferndale Time Bank. She has also part of Model D Events, Creative Cities Summit, Transit Riders United and the Business Development Committee for the Ferndale DDA. Oh, and also volunteer coordinator for the DIY Street Fair. She is studying Urban Planning in the master’s program at Wayne State University, and says she is “a true geek in my love for Fabulous Ferndale.” Her application began “The moment I heard the Ferndale High Marching Band play ‘Dancin’ in September’ while visiting a friend two years ago, I fell in love with all that is Ferndale.” She moved here shortly after and feels “I am in the position to not only encourage growth, but to stimulate and lead it.”
Bob Porter has most recently been in the public eye for his leadership role in the City’s Financial Planning Committee. He was Mayor from 2002-2008, and served prior to that on Council. “I have a long history of serving the city in both good and financially stressed times. Since Mayor Covey won the County commissioner seat, I have been contacted by many Ferndale residents asking me to apply for the council vacancy,” he wrote in his application. “I believe a city is only as strong as it’s residents willingness to participate, and I believe my previous experience would allow me to contribute quickly in these critical times.”
Councilman Mike Lennon also proposed that Council interview Tom Gagne, but he could not get a second. “I do not think he’s the right choice,” said Councilman Scott Galloway. “I’m not sure he has the temperament and team player skills to get us through the budget season.” Councilperson Melanie Piana and Mayor Pro Tem Kate Baker shared similar sentiments.
“I wasn’t surprised, but I was disappointed,” Gagne said. “The only reason I thought I might have a chance would be to improve their chances of getting a millage passed. If the budget deliberations and discussions could convince me of the need to increase taxes, then selling it to voters may have been easier as I got only 78-fewer votes than Galloway, and when I ran for mayor received only 300 fewer votes than Craig Covey. Additionally, whatever cuts would have to made, having someone like myself with the reputation for being more conservative than they, would have allowed them to spread the blame across a broader spectrum than their own.”
“I was disappointed my oldest son saw it,” Gagne added. “On the positive side, Joshua did make an interesting observation, “My favorite part was when they accused you of not being a team player then proceeded to ignore Mr. Lennon.”
A dozen Ferndale citizens sent in timely applications for Council and Mayor. They are listed below along with links to their applications which show the diverse range of experience and personalities that have stepped up to offer service to the city.
|Mayor-Council Brown Douglas|
|Mayor-Council Campbell Douglas|
|Mayor-Council Coulter David|
|Mayor-Council Foster Michelle|
|Mayor-Council Gagne Thomas|
|Mayor-Council Lowrey Gregory|
|Mayor-Council Montgomery Kristin|
|Mayor-Council Porter Robert|
|Mayor-Council Rickard Chris|
|Mayor-Council Senecal Sean|
|Mayor-Council Wells Sherry|
|Mayor-Council Willis Raymond|
The interviews will take place at the Jan. 24, 2011 City Council meeting, and Council will vote on who to appoint. To watch the previous Council meeting go to the City’s website at http://www.ferndale-mi.com.