Challenger narrowly defeated in Farms council race

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published November 18, 2013


GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Despite a strong effort, challenger Elizabeth “Liz” Vogel didn’t succeed in her third bid for a City Council seat in the last two years.

Vogel — a Farms native who first ran as a write-in candidate in 2011 — lost by 42 votes to incumbent City Council member Martin West. According to unofficial vote tallies available at press time, Vogel received 1,068 votes while West received 1,110 votes. Incumbent City Council members Louis Theros and Peter Waldmeir were also returned to office Nov. 5, by votes of 1,206 and 1,142, respectively. Vogel also ran in a special election in February to fill the seat left open by the death of City Council member Joseph Leonard in 2012, but she lost that bid by 28 votes to longtime car dealership owner Joe Ricci.

“We all worked hard,” Vogel said after the election. “It was a good campaign.”

An executive assistant for a beverage wholesaler, Vogel has been active in the community, volunteering with the Grosse Pointe Historical Society, Racing for Kids to the Hill and other nonprofit efforts. More recently, she has served as the Farms representative on the Grosse Pointe Public Library Board and as a member of the city’s relatively new Communication Committee. Her term on the latter committee expires in February 2014, she said.

Although she admitted she would have preferred to see a different outcome in the election, Vogel is glad that she has gotten more involved with her city.

“It’s such a wonderful experience,” she said. “You throw yourself out there, and you don’t know what the outcome will be. … People have gotten to know me better and know I truly care about the community.”

When she first ran, one of her campaign platforms was improving communication between the city and its residents, and since then, the city has created the Communication Committee and a completely revamped — and much more user-friendly and interactive — website. She encourages other residents to get involved.

“You can achieve so many great things just by putting yourself out there,” Vogel said.

At 31, Vogel was the youngest candidate on the council ballot, but she said she didn’t see this as a “battle of generations.”

The incumbents — who campaigned jointly — pointed to their shared experience.

West, who had initially been elected to the council and served from 1997-2001, was appointed to the council in April 2010 to fill a seat after the death of City Council member Douglas Roby. When another council member, Charles “Terry” Davis, died the following year, the council appointed West to serve out the remainder of Davis’ term, which had been set to expire this November.

“I feel honored the community has faith in me to serve another term,” said West, an insurance agent. “I look forward to it. We have a good group on the council and we have a great administration, and I hope we can move forward and maintain our amenities in the Farms and maintain our low tax rates.”

The other incumbents — both attorneys — said they were looking forward to continuing to serve their community.

“I’m grateful and humbled that the citizens of Grosse Pointe Farms re-elected me for another term as one of their City Council members,” Theros said via email after the election. “I look forward to continuing to work with the entire council, the city administration and Farms residents to ensure that the Farms continues to be a wonderful community to live, raise a family and run a business.”

Waldmeir expressed a similar sentiment.

“I greatly appreciate the opportunity to serve Grosse Pointe Farms for another four years,” he said by email after the election. “Our goal: Continue to maintain the highest level of city services and amenities at the lowest taxable rate in the Grosse Pointes.”

Campaigning outside Brownell Middle School on behalf of Theros, Waldmeir and West, Farms resident John Capuano expressed support for the incumbents.

“I know all three of them personally, and I think, in general, they have done a very nice job,” he said. “Their heads are in the right place. Their hearts are in the right place. And they have done a good job on behalf of the citizens of Grosse Pointe Farms.”

But other voters seemed more interested in a change.

Annemarie Rogers said she was “just looking forward to, and excited about, the potential of having new (councilmembers)” in office.

After having gone through three campaigns since 2011, Vogel said she isn’t sure whether she’ll try again in 2015. Having recently completed a marathon, she said she’s concluded that “running a marathon is, in fact, easier than running for City Council.” Still, she said she intends to stay active in her community and wants to do “whatever I can do to make it a better place.”