Former two-term councilman Carnagie takes over as Fraser mayor

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published February 5, 2018

 Mike Carnagie

Mike Carnagie

FRASER — A familiar face is returning to Fraser politics, albeit in a different role.

Mike Carnagie, a former two-term Fraser councilman, has accepted an offer to immediately become the next Fraser mayor. Since late last year, Councilwoman Kathy Blanke was presiding over meetings.

He will fill the currently vacant seventh seat, which has been empty since former Mayor Joe Nichols was voted off the council Sept. 18 during a tribunal hearing. Nichols has fought in court to get his seat back, but to no avail.

The current mayoral term concludes in November 2019.

At the city’s regular Jan. 11 meeting, the current council discussed the future of the mayoral position. Councilwoman Yvette Foster mentioned how the seat had remained open since September, mirroring a situation in 2015 when Councilman William Morelli resigned and the seat remained unfilled for months, drawing ire from residents due to voting stalemates.

Councilman Michael Lesich made a motion at that meeting to contact Carnagie and gauge his interest within an approximate two-week period.

Fraser Clerk Kelly Dolland verified that Carnagie will be sworn in at the council’s next regularly scheduled meeting Feb. 8. She also stated that eight individuals expressed interest in the open seat, including former Mayor Doug Hagerty, former Councilman Matt Hemelberg, and a handful of residents.

The mayor’s annual salary is $4,531, while council members make $3,835. They all also make $75 per meeting.

Carnagie served as a councilman in two consecutive terms, from 2009 to 2017. In 2009, he was the second-highest vote-getter, behind Blanke. In 2013, he received the most votes.

It’s a change of heart for the longtime Fraser resident and paid on-call firefighter. He never filed paperwork to run for re-election in 2017, saying he made a decision not to run again after speaking with his family and friends.

He recently clarified that his father was diagnosed with a severe form of cancer, and he lost his battle over the holidays.

“Obviously, family comes first,” he said.

After he received the council’s letter asking if he would be interested in filling the empty mayoral seat, it resulted in more soul searching and a final decision.

“After many days of deliberation and talking to friends and family — I actually had a meeting with my kids and sons-in-law — we just took a look at it,” Carnagie said. “As a fireman for 30 years, you don’t walk away from a community and people that need you.”

Blanke, who has spoken publicly about her intentions of bringing Carnagie back on the council, said she is “thrilled” about his return.

“I kept trying to convince him, because I had worked with him previously, from ’09 to ’13,” Blanke said. “We worked well together, and I felt he had the most experience.”

She said Carnagie’s strong personality will be able to restore what is required of the council: sticking to business and getting things done in due time.

“He cares, he’s a good man, he’s an ethical man, he has integrity,” she said. “He is not a one-man show. Mike is a team player. I really can’t praise him enough.”

Lesich said he spoke with Carnagie about why he decided to fill the seat, citing “given uncertainty” of the position and a need to “fill a role.”

“We have so much to do the next six months, and we need a full council,” Lesich said. “That was the driving force in getting this done. Now, we can focus on the work and don’t have to get Mike up to speed. … I think we’re going to make a great team. I think the council is full of good people.”

Carnagie agrees, which is why he’s ready to live in the present and focus on the future.

“I want to bring back normalcy and forget the past, and it’s time to reset and move forward,” Carnagie said. “I think there’s a very good council sitting there now, and they have the best intentions. … I’m only one person. It’s going to take all of us to make it work.”