Novi Mayor Bob Gatt and his son, Robert, smile as they listen to former Novi Director of Public Safety/Police Chief David Molloy speak about Gatt during a farewell celebration held by the city Oct. 27 at Suburban Collection Showplace.

Novi Mayor Bob Gatt and his son, Robert, smile as they listen to former Novi Director of Public Safety/Police Chief David Molloy speak about Gatt during a farewell celebration held by the city Oct. 27 at Suburban Collection Showplace.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Gatt bids farewell as Novi mayor, and hello to next chapter of his life

By: Charity Meier | Novi Note | Published November 7, 2023

 Gatt was presented with this framed picture showcasing some of the things he has done for the community, which was autographed by well wishers.

Gatt was presented with this framed picture showcasing some of the things he has done for the community, which was autographed by well wishers.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


NOVI — After 48 years of dedication to the city of Novi, Mayor Bob Gatt decided the time was right to close the “local politics” chapter of his life and let someone younger lead the city.

“I just knew it was time,” said Gatt. “It was just, you wake up one day and you say, ‘I think it’s time.’”

Gatt grew up in Detroit and attended St. Monica Catholic School. After graduating from St. Francis de Sales High School, he went on to attend Wayne State University for his bachelor’s degree and Eastern Michigan University for his master’s degree in interdisciplinary law enforcement technology.

Gatt said he knew he wanted to be a public servant at the age of 13 and decided to be a police officer to help and protect people. However, due to his short stature, that would prove challenging, as many police departments had a height requirement of 5 feet, 10 inches.

It was this requirement that led him to the Novi Police Department. The police chief at that time only required that applicants have a bachelor’s degree or be a veteran of the armed services. Gatt started his service to the people of Novi in 1975 as a police patrolman and went up the ranks to become a detective. He retired from the Novi Police Department as a sergeant after 28 years of service. He then went on to serve 20 years as an elected official — eight years as a councilman and 12 as the mayor.

“I have very mixed emotions. I will miss many parts of the job and the duties that go with it,” Gatt said. “I will miss being a part of the planning of Novi’s future. I’ve dedicated my whole life to Novi. I was a young man when I started with the city of Novi in 1975, and for the last 48 years I have given everything I have to the city of Novi, and it’s been fun being part of the planning process. ‘What happens next?’ ‘Where do we go from here?’ I’m going to miss that — that’s for certain.”

He  initially planned to run again for mayor and sent out campaign information to media outlets and was listed on the preliminary ballot. However, he said he was thinking about retiring early in the year and ultimately decided to withdraw from the election and retire from the position in early spring. He said he just wasn’t enjoying it as much as he should be and said it was time for “a younger leader” to take over.

Gatt is not retiring completely. He will remain the manager of the Oakland County Animal Control and Pet Adoption Center, a position he has held for 11 years. Gatt has had to go to work early to his job at the shelter in Pontiac and often worked 6:30 a.m.-3 p.m. just so that he could return to Novi in time to make City Council and other meetings, or other almost-daily events requiring the mayor’s presence. He said he is now going to enjoy his evenings.

“There’s more politics here (at the shelter) than probably in my job as mayor in that we are dealing with dogs and cats. And my goodness, that can draw the ire or the love of many people in an instant if we do the wrong thing or if we do the right thing, which we do all the time,” Gatt said. “So I’m not retired-retired. As I said, I’m not closing anything and putting a lock on it.”

Gatt said he is done with local politics and will never run for mayor or City Council again. However, he made it known that he is not opposed to running for a higher office, but did not elaborate as to what that office might be. He said he still has a lot to offer, as he has been blessed with good health. He said he could possibly do some volunteer work or work in a consulting position.

“If I feel I can contribute more, I will do so. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean in an elected office,” he said. “I have not closed the door to anything. So, my story is not done, but this chapter is closed. The local government, the local election, that’s now in my past.”

The city of Novi held a public farewell party in honor of Gatt Oct. 27 at Suburban Collection Showplace. Members of the public, as well as city officials, paid for tickets to attend the event. During the event, former Mayor David Landry and former Novi Public Safety Director/Police Chief David Molloy spoke of Gatt’s character and service to the community.

“You hear a lot about de-escalation and problem-solving in the news today. I can tell you unequivocally this team saved dozens and dozens of people who were barricaded by gunmen/gunwomen and assisted many others who were suffering from a mental health disorder because of the training and leadership of Bob Gatt,” Molloy told the crowd at the celebration.

According to Molloy, Gatt was the one everyone knew they could go to for advice on how to advance their career and how to improve themselves as a person, a police officer, a father and a husband. He said many of the contractual benefits the Novi Police Department receives today, the quality of the equipment provided, the police vehicles, the pay and benefit packages, and many other things can be attributed to Gatt.

Gatt was responsible for bringing the Drug Abuse Resistance Education, aka D.A.R.E., program to Novi. He was a “highly decorated” officer, according to Molloy. He was police officer of the year in 1999. During his career, he received 12 departmental citations, 12 merit citations, and three unit citations. According to Molloy, many of those were due to the bravery, courage and leadership that Gatt displayed. He also received 10 letters of commendation. Molloy said that according to Chief Erick Zinser, Gatt has 43 letters of appreciation in his file.

Molloy said he has never seen a file such as Gatt’s in any of the files he went through as chief of police. A child wrote to the police to thank Gatt for being a friend. Someone wrote to point out his sensitivity to the seniors.

“He had the respect and admiration of all the men and women he worked with and the thousands that he served in the community, ” said Molloy.

Landry spoke of Gatt’s dedication to the city and its people. He named every mayor including himself and said, “In that entire group, no one stands taller than Bob Gatt.”

“Mr. Mayor, it was a pleasure to serve with you. It was an honor to serve with you. The city is what it is because, in a large part, of you. No one has given more,” Landry said.

Also in attendance at the event was Gatt’s family, including his two children, Robert and Mary Gatt. Robert Gatt is a Michigan state trooper who, according to Gatt, used to tease him by saying that he was going to run against him, as it would confuse people as to who was whom on the ballot.

Gatt also addressed the people of the city at the celebration. He took the time to name many of the residents who contributed to the success of the city. He recalled seeing Novi grow from a small country town to a bustling city. He pointed out that when he started working for the city, Gerald Ford was president, gasoline cost 57 cents per gallon, the average home cost $39,000 and his annual salary as a full-time police officer was $10,500.

He said the moment he will remember the most from his time as mayor is the dedication of a bench in front of City Hall in memory of a young Novi man, by the name of Andrew Becker, who after witnessing the horror of 9/11 in 2001 on television decided to go into the Air force and ultimately gave his life for this country.

“Every single moment of that day is embedded into my memory forever. … He’s a true hero,” Gatt said.

Gatt’s official last day as mayor will be Nov. 20. On that date, the mayor-elect will be officially sworn in as mayor during the City Council meeting at 7 p.m. in the City Council chambers at the Novi Civic Center.

“I did enjoy every minute of my tenure. I enjoyed representing the city of Novi and its thousands and thousands of residents,” he said.

Gatt’s advice for the new mayor is to enjoy every minute of it, as it will go by quickly. He said some issues the new mayor will be dealing with are the need to upgrade and/or repair the public safety facilities, including the police and fire stations; as well as handling the challenge of hiring public safety officials. Gatt said it has become difficult to recruit men and women into the field of public safety.

“The best part about Novi is simple: the people. The people of Novi make Novi unique. They make Novi different and better than most other places, and it’s been like that since I started with the city 48 years ago. Novi, I’ve said before, is just a dot on a map. What makes that dot come alive are the people here. We’re different. In Novi, everybody loves everybody. We don’t have the problems that you hear about and read about and see happening elsewhere. The Novi population, I don’t know if God smiled on us or whatever, but we just seem to all get along and all pull in the same direction. Don’t get me wrong; there are some differences here and there, but overall we are a very unique set of people, and I just pray that that never changes.”