Fouts lands historic win over challenger Kathy Vogt

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published November 9, 2011

 Warren Mayor Jim Fouts defeated challenger Kathy Vogt by a historic margin Nov. 8 to secure a second four-year term at City Hall.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts defeated challenger Kathy Vogt by a historic margin Nov. 8 to secure a second four-year term at City Hall.

Photo by Andrew Potter

WARREN – After all the talk about Jim Fouts and his years on Earth, the only years that matter now are the four more he’ll spend in the mayor’s office.

In an epic landslide, by the largest margin of victory in Warren’s history, Fouts crushed challenger Kathy Vogt on Election Day to win a second four-year term as the leader of Macomb County’s largest city.

The incumbent mayor, who claimed victory shortly before 9:30 p.m. Nov. 8, took a resounding 18,215 votes (80.7 percent) to Vogt’s 4,363 (19.3 percent), according to unofficial results.

Fouts, a former longtime member of the Warren City Council and a retired teacher who fueled a controversy when he refused to divulge his age during the campaign, said the political battle he waged this year was the most difficult of his 30-year political career, at least on a personal level.

The self-proclaimed “neighborhood councilman” turned “neighborhood mayor” told a crowd of more than 500 supporters gathered for food and drinks during an election night celebration at Andiamo Italia that, thanks to them, he survived “the most negative personal attack in the history of Warren.”

Fouts repeatedly blasted Vogt and her supporters for tactics he said were rooted in “ageism” after documents, some sought under Freedom of Information Act requests, appeared to show conflicting years for his date of birth. Vogt and two other candidates later unsuccessfully challenged Fouts’ candidacy after he declined to disclose his date of birth on documents filed ahead of the election.

The controversy later focused on Fouts’ driver’s license — which he has yet to renew after officials cited a discrepancy in his date of birth held in state and federal records — and his voter registration.

The mayor also said members of his staff were subjected to personal attacks.

“It’s been the most difficult campaign from a personal point of view, although from a physical point of view it’s been easy. It’s been an easy campaign because I have an opponent who’s managed to turn off and insult everybody,” Fouts said. “Her methods have not helped her out at all. People do not like negative personal attacks. This campaign was never about the issues. It was all about personal attacks.”

Fouts said he has compiled a list of goals for the next four years, including some “grandiose ideas” that include an offer to host candidates running for president of the United States at a debate in Warren next year.

He said he’d also focus on development in the city, jobs, and continuing his efforts to eliminate blight and cut crime.

“I’m very appreciative of the voters of Warren for giving a mandate to continue our focus on a cleaner and safer city with efficient city services, and a city that works to help people out, not to hurt them, and a city that cares about them,” Fouts said.

Vogt, an attorney in private practice who gave up a chance for a third four-year term on the Warren City Council to run for mayor, maintained throughout the campaign that her questions surrounding Fouts’ date of birth were about honesty and transparency, and not the mayor’s age.

“I kept my campaign above board. I did the right thing. I don’t regret anything I did,” Vogt said. “I hope he gets his driver’s license renewed, and we go forward.

“I wish the mayor and everybody well. I hope they do the right thing for the city. As for what’s next for me, I’m going to focus on my grandchildren, my practice, and having a normal life.”

According to records reviewed by Warren City Clerk Paul Wojno, Fouts’ margin of victory was the largest ever in a Warren mayoral race.

Wojno said the late former Mayor Ted Bates came the closest when he bagged 76 percent of the vote in 1967 in a contest against Bill Shaw. Two years later — mayors in Warren previously served two-year terms — Bates garnered 74 percent of the vote.

Former Mayor Ron Bonkowski also won big in 1987, when he took 72 percent of the votes cast for mayor.

Fouts defeated former Council member and City Clerk Richard Sulaka by a margin of 62 percent to 38 percent in 2007.