Berkley councilwoman elected to Michigan House of Representatives

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published November 17, 2022




BERKLEY — A Berkley City Councilwoman has been elected to the Michigan House of Representatives.

Democrat Natalie Price was chosen by voters Nov. 8 to become the state representative in the 5th District of the Michigan House. She defeated her Republican opponent, Paul Taros, with more than 78% of the vote. In total, 30,637 people out of 39,112 voted for Price.

Price said she was thrilled to head to the House, which — along with the Michigan Senate and re-election of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — are all in Democratic control.

“I think the voters put a lot of trust in us as Democrats, giving us the majority in the House and the Senate and the Governor’s Office, and this is really historical and exciting for us to be able to get good work done for Michiganders,” she said.

Price said she’s excited to get to work in the House and for the 5th District, which covers cities in Oakland and Wayne Counties.

“I think there have been a lot of things that have been stuck in session for many years because of a Republican majority in the House,” she said. “One that comes to mind is commonsense gun reform has never made it out of committee and onto the floor. I believe commonsense gun reform bills are not partisan. They should not be partisan. They should be about human rights, and yet, I think it takes having a Democratic majority to get those bills onto the floor for a vote, and I can’t wait to see them there and be able to cast my vote in support of that.”

Because of her election to the House, Price will have to resign from her seat on the Berkley City Council. Price was elected to her first term of four years in November 2019.

Price stated she has handed in her letter of resignation to the city, which states it will go into effect either when she is sworn in as state representative or when the City Council appoints a successor, whichever comes first.

“I will continue to serve on council. I absolutely plan on serving at the next meeting (Nov. 21),” she said. “Again, depending on when they appoint my successor or when I’m sworn in, I don’t yet know whether I will be able to continue at the meeting following that. I think that’ll depend on the timing of both of those things.”

According to Berkley’s bylaws, the city has 30 days from the date of resignation to appoint a new council person. After a period to accept applications, those will be reviewed by an ad hoc committee of the mayor pro tem, Bridget Dean, the most senior member of council, Steven Baker, and the most junior member of council, Jessica Vilani.

“They’ll be the group tasked with putting the advertisement out, reviewing applications from the community when they come in, conducting an initial set of interviews and then having a recommendation to the council as a whole,” City Manager Matt Baumgarten said. “They would make the recommendations of who to interview to council, and council as a whole would make that decision (of who to appoint).”

The person appointed to Price’s seat will serve the remainder of her term, which ends in November 2023. For those interested in applying, Baumgarten said, “It’s wide open. If you think you might have an interest in serving the community in this way, please consider applying.”

Price began as a community organizer in Berkley, from working at the community center to helping orchestrate citywide diaper drives.

She said being able to step from that role where she worked on service projects in the city to serving the residents on council was impactful, as she could see the ways in which her votes could make positive changes in the community. That includes making playgrounds more accessible and working on projects with the Downtown Development Authority, such as the plaza on Coolidge Highway.

“(To) be able to go show up and use those spaces with my family, seeing how inclusive and wonderful they have been as placemakers for our community, those were really, really fantastic ways for me to see how my involvement and the things that I champion could … come in and get concrete benefits for the community and the people around us,” she said. “I will miss that part of serving on council; the hyper-local, nonpartisan, getting-things-done aspect of local government was just fantastic, and I encourage anyone who’s interested to look around at the service projects that need their experience and their help and jump in and get started and see where it takes them.”