Catching up with Mayor Lori Stone

Warren mayor talks about first six months in office

By: Gena Johnson | Warren Weekly | Published June 28, 2024

 In a recent interview, Warren Mayor Lori Stone said she sees the process of making appointments within her administration as more of a marathon than a sprint.

In a recent interview, Warren Mayor Lori Stone said she sees the process of making appointments within her administration as more of a marathon than a sprint.

Photo by Gena Johnson


WARREN — In a recent interview with the Warren Weekly, Mayor Lori Stone discussed her first six months in office.

The mayor addressed the cultural shifts at City Hall, hiring a new police commissioner, working toward a police department fully staffed with officers, and the appointment process.


A cultural shift
When Warren’s first new mayor in 16 years first entered City Hall, she was surprised by the atmosphere and culture.

“My staff and I remarked about when we came in, City Hall was silent. You could hear crickets,” Stone said. “The amount of people who said they had never been in the mayor’s office, or that visiting the mayor’s office was like visiting the principal’s office, really surprised me.  Because for me, the mayor is about being the champion of a city.”

According to Stone, department meetings were quiet but are now boisterous with robust conversations before and after the meetings. Department heads are talking to each other and collaborating about how to do things better.

“My impression is and what was shared with me is people feel a pressure has been lifted,” said Stone about employee morale. “A weight has been lifted off their shoulders. There is a more joyful, jubilant workspace.”

Part of being a “champion” for the city and the cultural shift is celebrating city employees and their accomplishments.

“We celebrate everything,” Stone said.

When the mayor’s staff or department heads meet, everyone shares a victory whether it is significant or small, according to Stone. As a teacher in the Fitzgerald Public Schools district for more than 14 years, she describes herself as “always an educator” and still gives out stickers as a way to say thank you, express gratitude and recognize accomplishments.   

“My staff had stickers made, ‘My Mayor is Proud of Me,’” Stone said.

“There are so many things that if you don’t stop and smell the roses, all you remember are the phone calls with the complaints or concerns,” she said. “You need to fortify yourself with celebrations to continue to move you forward.”

Stone’s open-door policy may be different from previous administrations. According to the mayor, she and her team try to meet with those when questions or concerns arise; however, she has empowered her team to identify the resources in the community to solve residents’ problems. If the issue needs to be elevated to her, she is there to “make sure everything gets past the finish line,” Stone said.

“In the past, people have been very dependent on (picking) up the phone and (saying), I need to talk to the mayor right now,” Stone said.

According to Stone, she would love to meet with everyone who wants to meet but there are not enough hours in the day.

“My responsibilities are bigger than that, and so I have teams that are creating public spaces where I get to meet with anyone who comes to participate,” she said.


Selecting a police commissioner
As part of those public spaces, in late June, Stone had four police commissioner forums for residents to weigh in on what they would like in the new commissioner. These were held at various locations around the city: The Burnette Branch Library, Macomb Community College, the Warren Community Center and a virtual forum that anyone could access from their computer or phone.

The impetus of the forums was to connect those with ideas with the decision-makers and provide information about what cultural shifts are needed in leadership for improvement.

“People were very forthcoming with their opinions on situations as they arose, especially around public safety and public service. I hear a lot of ideas shared at a park bench or on social media,” Stone said. “If ideas aren’t making it to the decision-makers, then they are lost in the ether.”

The mayor’s paradigm is not everyone’s paradigm.

“I am aware that I have a lived experience, but I am also aware that I have blind spots when it comes to lived experiences that are different from mine,” Stone said. “And so, it’s key for me to listen and hear other things that I haven’t taken into consideration yet and need to be added to that consideration.”

Stone is looking for a police commissioner who is skilled at the job and also skilled as a leader of people because of the size and scope of Warren.

“Warren has some very unique characteristics: third-largest city in the state, so not everyone has the background and experience to manage a department of our size, to manage a community that is approaching 140,000 residents,” Stone said. “In addition to the resident population of the city, Warren has thousands of people who come into the city during the business day at the GM Tech Center and TACOM alone. Warren is diverse in socioeconomics, as well as racial and cultural diversity. Not every community gives its law enforcement leadership this kind of experience.”

TACOM is the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command at the U.S. Army’s Detroit Arsenal.


The hunt to hire police officers
According to the mayor, before she took office, there were 17 police officer vacancies. In early April, according to former Warren Police Commissioner William Dwyer, there were 22 officer vacancies.

“This is a struggle across the state and across the country. Especially public service jobs have ebbs and flow,” Stone said.

The new administration decided to have the city’s Human Resources Department resume hiring officers, as opposed to the Warren Police Department, which did it for many years.

The mayor is looking at the Warren Fire Department’s cadet program and taking cues from it as to how to grow the Police Department from within. The cadets are trained by the Fire Department then after graduation fill the department’s unfilled positions.

“We are on our third recruitment (cycle) to fill any vacancies we do have,” said Acting Human Resources Director Jackie Damron when asked about the number of police officer vacancies. Damron did not give a number of vacant officer positions.

According to Damron, the recruitment cycles were in March, May and June and will continue. The five new officers starting July 8 are from the March recruitment cycle.  She also noted recruitment efforts will continue to establish a list of eligible applicants.

The mayor’s appointments

After nearly seven months in office, some Warren residents have questioned whether the appointment process should have been completed already.

“Oh, no. This is a big process and even appointments to commissions are ongoing and continuous,” Stone said. “They are constantly being considered and being filled and reappointed.

“Our city deserves the best,” Stone said. “I’m not here to hand out political favors. I’m not here to appoint friends and family. I’m not here because I’m beholden to special interests. I am here because I am committed to my community and making it the best and realizing its potential.”

The mayor’s process is to listen, learn and lead.

“When I was reaching out to residents and asking them to hire me as mayor, I wasn’t conducting interviews, and I wasn’t making promises,” Stone said. “What I said was, when I come in, I’m going to listen, I’m going to learn and I’m going to lead based on the needs of our community. That continues to be the pace.”

Having listened, learned and developed a lesson plan to lead, the “always an educator” mayor was asked what grade she would give herself in the first six months in office.

Stone said, “I am achieving things every day that I set out to accomplish and so I feel successful.”

Although she would not give a letter grade, she continued.

“I challenge you to go out and talk to people in the community and ask them to offer up where I’m at and or points for improvement,” Stone said.

Visit our Facebook page at and give the mayor a letter grade (A-F) and comment about potential points for improvement.