Galloway Not Seeking Fourth Council Term (video)
(Crystal A. Proxmire, Aug. 14, 2013)
As Ferndalians start to think of who they will vote for Nov. 5, one name they may notice missing from the ballot is that of Scott Galloway. The co-owner of Galloway and Collens Law Firm and 12-year city council veteran has decided that three terms is enough and it’s time to focus on other things.
While Galloway has enjoyed his time on Council and the years spent before that on the Police and Fire Board, he said there is a “burn out factor” involved in his decision. “It’s a lot of work,” Galloway said. “It’s not just cutting ribbons and doing Pub Crawls.”
In addition to attending City Council meetings and public events, local elected officials attend meetings of boards and commissions, meet with city employees, answer calls and emails from residents, review and consider agendas, research key issues, and receive the stressful middle-of-the-night or middle-of-the-workday phone calls when something big has happened in town.
“It’s also very emotional,” Galloway said. “It’s also very trying to wrestle with these issues.” There are decisions that affect people’s jobs, people’s quality of life, and sometimes are even matters of life and death.
Early in his Council career, SE Michigan was hit with an outbreak of West Nile Virus. Ray White, one of the City’s cable cameramen, got very sick and was one of the first cases in the area. The virus was transmitted by mosquitoes, which were abundant in the city parks. City leaders had to weigh the effects of using potentially dangerous chemicals in the sewers and the parks against the benefit of killing the mosquitoes and stopping the spread of the virus. “We were literally making life or death types of decisions,” he said.
Over the years, decisions Galloway and his colleagues made have changed the face of Ferndale. Business growth and changes to City administration are evident, but Galloway most takes pride in the restructuring of governance that has made many of those changes possible. The most notable change took place in June 2010 when Council voted to place the City Manager in charge of the City Departments, taking it from a “Five Appointee System” of governance to a “City Manager System.” Galloway explained the change, stating “Where our five full time appointees – the Fire Chief, the Police Chief, the City Clerk, the City Manager, and the City Attorney – all reported directly to a part time body, it got to the point where it was fairly dysfunctional… A couple years ago we changed that to a strong City Manager form of government and I think we’ve seen some really good results…All the different departments acted independently of one another…They all worked well doing their own thing, but it was hard to get them to collaborate.”
Galloway credits leadership all around for changes in the city, including April Lynch, who he said is the best City Manager he’s had an opportunity to work with. Hiring a Human Resources Specialist has eased the process of contract negotiations and saved the city money on legal fees. Councilperson Melanie Piana has brought a Complete Streets mindset to the planning process. Mayor Dave Coulter has helped institute a two-year budgeting process as he’d done when serving as County Commissioner. And previous Councilperson Tomiko Gumbleton was credited with establishing goal-setting sessions where elected officials and department heads discuss their vision for the city at meetings ahead of the budget discussions.
For Galloway, the reasons for getting involved in politics were because he liked the direction Ferndale was going in when he bought his house here in 1995. Galloway grew up in Pleasant Ridge and graduated Ferndale High School in 1987. He’d lived in Ann Arbor while getting his undergrad degree, and in Bloomington, IN during law school at Indiana Univesity. After stints in Washington DC and Illinois, he came back to his home community and wanted to see it continue down a progressive path.
“What’s interesting about Ferndale is when you look at it now it’s this sort of a very liberal, accepting community with great restaurants and things to do in the evening. And just very welcoming, whether it’s Pride or DIY or any number of different activities that bring outsiders into our city. It wasn’t always like that. When I got involved, a few bars were opening up. There was a sense that perhaps something different was going on in Ferndale, that there was a spark there that eventually led to what we have today. But it wasn’t guaranteed to be that way,” he said. “There were still strong forces against change, against diversity. When I first got involved in politics in 1998, Ferndale was still not very welcoming to the GLBT community, still had Ann Heler reporting large number of hate crimes or slurs against the GLBT community. People felt threatened. There wasn’t really all that gay-friendly of a place. It was my sense that we needed to keep the progress going, that we needed to have strong progressive voices on council that would push back against some of these calls to turn back to a Golden Age that perhaps never really existed in the 50s and 60s when anybody who looked different, acted different, was not accepted. I think that’s one of the things I’m proudest of is that we’ve had councils and mayors that have stood up very strongly to these types of calls, and Ferndale’s a much better place because of it.”
Mayor Dave Coulter looks upon Galloway’s time in office with a similar view. “Scott’s been around so long some people may take for granted his accomplishments, but he was a progressive voice on council at a time when there were heated debates about things we now take for granted, like issues of equality and downtown redevelopment. He’s also taken an interest in our facilities, and the new courthouse and police station are a direct result of his efforts. Beyond specific issues, however, I’ve valued Scott’s perspectives and experience as we work on the things that don’t get as much publicity, like improving efficiencies in our operations or editing proposed ordinances with a legal eye to make sure they are as sound as possible,” Coulter said. “On a personal note, I will never forget that Scott was one of the first people to support me in my first election when some folks might have been hesitant. But that’s Scott, not afraid to do what he thinks is right regardless, even when we’ve disagreed, and that to me is his real legacy.”
His fellow Council members shared respectful opinions of Galloway’s service. “Scott has brought a broad array of skills and talents to Council. He looks at issues with a critical yet constructive eye. I personally appreciate that he is the kind of colleague that even when you may disagree on an issue we can talk it through and maintain a productive and conducive working relationship. He will be missed,” said Councilperson Dan Martin.
Councilperson Mike Lennon said “Scott is an intelligent, dedicated individual, his endurance and length of service will be truly missed. I personally will miss his behind the scenes humor, but always a gentleman and family man.”
As the end of his term approaches, Galloway is looking forward to spending more time with his wife Robin and their young son Jack. He plans on building up his law practice and continuing to be active through the Boys and Girls Club, Drayton Avenue Presbyterian Church, The Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce and activities that benefit Ferndale Schools.
Here is another video of Galloway, this one from the 2009 Dream Cruise.