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 From left, Grosse Pointe City Councilmen Terence Thomas, Donald Parthum Jr. and John Stempfle take the oath of office Nov. 18 at the Neighborhood Club.

From left, Grosse Pointe City Councilmen Terence Thomas, Donald Parthum Jr. and John Stempfle take the oath of office Nov. 18 at the Neighborhood Club.

File photo by K. Michelle Moran


Grosse Pointes see wave of newcomers elected to local offices

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published December 30, 2019

 Former Grosse Pointe City Councilwoman Sheila Tomkowiak takes the oath of office to become the City’s second female mayor Nov. 18 at the Neighborhood Club.

Former Grosse Pointe City Councilwoman Sheila Tomkowiak takes the oath of office to become the City’s second female mayor Nov. 18 at the Neighborhood Club.

File photo by K. Michelle Moran

GROSSE POINTES — Election Day Nov. 5 ushered in a sea of newcomers running for office in the Grosse Pointes.

Grosse Pointe City voters elected only the second female mayor in the City’s history — and in the history of the Grosse Pointes — when they chose City Councilwoman Sheila Tomkowiak to become the new mayor. Tomkowiak defeated incumbent Mayor Christopher Boettcher, winning a two-year term. The City’s first female mayor was Susan Wheeler, who served in the mid and late 1990s.

The City also made history by electing its first African American council member, Terence Thomas. Incumbent City Councilmen John Stempfle and Donald Parthum Jr. were also reelected, all to four-year terms. Incumbent City Councilman Andrew Turnbull didn’t seek reelection.

In Grosse Pointe Park, Mayor Robert Denner was reelected in an uncontested mayoral race for a two-year term, but new faces swept the council. Park voters selected political newcomers Vikas Relan, Aimee Rogers Fluitt and Michele Hodges for four-year terms over incumbents John Chouinard and Daniel Clark. Clark had a particularly long record of service, having been in office for the last 32 years.

Relan was the top vote-getter in the council race with 26.59%, followed by Fluitt with 22.73% and Hodges with 18.2%. Incumbent City Councilwoman Barb Detwiler didn’t run for reelection.

Grosse Pointe Farms Mayor Louis Theros ran unopposed for another two-year term; this will mark his second term as mayor, after serving for many years on the City Council. Farms voters reelected two of their city’s incumbents — City Councilmen Joe Ricci and Lev Wood — to new four-year terms, but not City Councilwoman Sierra Leone Donaven, who had been appointed to fill a council vacancy in July 2018. Donaven — who made history in the Grosse Pointes as the first African American to serve on a city council — was defeated in her bid for reelection by Neil Sroka.

In Grosse Pointe Shores, incumbent Mayor Ted Kedzierski ran unopposed for another four-year term, but with two council seats open after City Council members Tina Ellis and Robert Gesell decided not to run again, Shores voters knew they’d be getting at least two new council members. In the end, voters chose incumbent City Councilman Douglas Kucyk and newcomers Danielle Gelhert and John Seago, all of whom were elected in a contested council race to four-year terms.