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Commission undecided on top candidate, votes for special election

By: Alex Szwarc | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published January 10, 2020

MOUNT CLEMENS — Once a special election is held in Mount Clemens for a city commissioner spot, it will be almost a year since the seat opened up.

On Jan. 6, for the second meeting in a row, the Mount Clemens City Commission couldn’t conjure up enough votes to select a new commissioner. Instead, it was unanimously agreed upon that a special election will be held in August to fill the role.   

In December, after taking four votes on who to appoint, the commission agreed to vote again Jan. 6, a day when two rounds of voting took place. At the most recent meeting, Gina Palazzolo received three votes, Wanda Goodnough got two, and Christopher Luckritz received one.

A spot on the commission opened up after the death of Bill “Sonny” Ford in September.

The five candidates — Palazzolo, Goodnough, Luckritz, Brandon Gaubatz and Kathleen Kelchner — can now file for the open election.

In November, guidelines were discussed for filling the vacancy through the appointment process. All applicants were invited to attend the commission’s Dec. 2 meeting to give a brief introduction of themselves. The commission conducted interviews at a special meeting Dec. 9.

The appointee’s term will end in November 2021.

On Jan. 6, resident Shelley Emerson commented on her support for Palazzolo.

“She started Neighbors Helping Neighbors, and we’ve had blight addressed and property values go up because of her organizing those efforts. She’s a standup gal and makes it proud to be from the Clem,” Emerson said.

Prior to the commission’s vote, Palazzolo said that by selecting a young and fiercely positive known community activist, commissioners would make a choice that shows the public that dedication, compassion and taking initiative are valued in the community.

Goodnough said she has been a Macomb County resident for 53 years, and that her family is one of the oldest in Mount Clemens.

At the end of the meeting, Commissioner Denise Mentzer said that in December, she had motioned for a special election.

“I wish we would’ve done it then,” she said. “I feel like we wasted time where we haven’t talked about a city manager. We kicked the can down the road, and here we are today in the same old place.”

Mayor Laura Kropp argued that the city didn’t kick the can down the road with city manager interviews, calling that and the commission spot two separate issues.