Berkley, Pleasant Ridge to see contested races in November

By: Mike Koury | C&G Newspapers | Published July 27, 2021

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OAKLAND COUNTY — The deadline to file for the November election passed at 4 p.m. July 20, and the candidates for local offices who will appear on ballots have been set.

For the cities in the Woodward Talk’s coverage area, Ferndale, Berkley, Huntington Woods and Pleasant Ridge all have seats up for election on their respective councils and commissions, but only some will have contested races on Nov. 2.

Ferndale has two four-year terms on its City Council on the ballot, with incumbents Greg Pawlica and Laura Mikulski being the only candidates who registered. Likewise, Mayor Melanie Piana will run unopposed for another two-year term.

Huntington Woods also has an uncontested race for its two open City Commission seats. Running for new four-year terms, Mayor Pro Tem Joe Rozell and Commissioner Jules Olsman were the only candidates who had filed at the deadline.

In Berkley, Mayor Dan Terbrack will run unopposed for another two-year term. The council has three open seats, each a four-year term. This contested race will feature incumbents Steve Baker and Dennis Hennen, plus residents John Coggeshall, Gregory Patterson, Charles Tyrrell and Jessica Vilani.

After a decade serving the city of Berkley, Councilman Jack Blanchard decided against running for reelection. He was appointed to the council in 2011 to finish out the remainder of Phil O’Dwyer’s term after he was elected mayor. Blanchard later was elected to two full terms in 2013 and 2017, respectively.

“I thought it was time for somebody else to come on,” he said. “I work with public safety as an emergency management consultant, and I’m going to continue to do that. It was getting to be a lot to be on council and do that also.”

During his time on council, Blanchard said, he was proud of how the council members were able to help the city through hard times, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and be on the right financial track.

“It was a great time,” he said, looking back on his years of service. “(I’m) really proud to be able to serve the residents of Berkley and try to keep things even keeled, and provide the services that they need, and make sure everything’s done properly, and that we were good stewards of the citizens’ money that they gave us to work with.”

Pleasant Ridge will have a contested race for its two open seats on its City Commission. Alex Lenko, Katy Schmier and Tom Wilkinson will be running for the two four-year terms.

Commissioner Amanda Wahl will not run for reelection. First elected to her seat in 2017, Wahl said her time on the commission was a great experience, and while she’s “not saying I would never do it again,” she wants to spend more time with her family.

“I really loved my time, and I loved working to help the city and do my civic duty, but my daughter is turning 12 this year, and it’s a lot,” she said. “I need to spend time with her and I also have a different job that’s very demanding. So I just feel like I need to prioritize, and I don’t feel like I would have the time that I would want to put into everything, so I had to step away.”

Pleasant Ridge also will be electing a new mayor in November. Kurt Metzger previously announced in April that he would not run for reelection.

Metzger’s successor in all likelihood will be Commissioner Bret Scott, as he will run unopposed for a four-year term as mayor. Scott said he’s excited to become the next mayor of Pleasant Ridge.

“One of the interesting things about this election cycle is just getting the (petition) signatures and speaking to people I hadn’t seen in a long time,” he said. “There’s still a requirement to file a petition, and the world is a much different place in April than it is today. So just having that opportunity to see people again, speak with them, understand what’s on their minds, was really nice.”

Write-in candidates for any city offices in Oakland County may declare their intent with their city clerks by 4 p.m. on the second Friday immediately preceding the election.