Commissioners appoint replacement for Gary McGillivray

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published December 4, 2023

 Ann Erickson Gault, D-Troy, has been appointed by the Oakland County Board of Commissioners to fill the seat left vacant following the death of County Commissioner Gary McGillivray, of Madison Heights.

Ann Erickson Gault, D-Troy, has been appointed by the Oakland County Board of Commissioners to fill the seat left vacant following the death of County Commissioner Gary McGillivray, of Madison Heights.

Photo provided by Oakland County


MADISON HEIGHTS — The Oakland County Board of Commissioners has chosen its replacement for the late Gary McGillivray, who long represented his hometown of Madison Heights along with Hazel Park and parts of Troy as the commissioner for District 3.

Ann Erickson Gault, D-Troy, was appointed to the role at the board’s Nov. 16 meeting, not long after she had been reelected to the Troy City Council, where she has served since late 2019.

Gault works as an attorney, specializing in appeals and contract legal writing and research for individual and small firm lawyers. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Manchester University and a law degree from the University of Toledo. Gault is also a past chair and member of the Providing Access to Legal Services Committee for the Oakland County Bar Association and does pro bono work with the Family Law Clinic.

Her predecessor on the commission, McGillivray, held the seat since 2009, prior to which he served on the Madison Heights City Council from 1983 to 1998, and again from 2001 to 2008. McGillivray also briefly served as the mayor of Madison Heights from 1998 to 1999. He was 71 at the time of his passing Nov. 3. He died just two weeks after the Oct. 18 death of his wife of 48 years, Diane McGillivray, herself a longtime volunteer in the community.

Gault has lived in Troy for nearly 20 years. She resides there with her husband, Tom, and their daughter, Eleanor.

“First and foremost, I am honored to be the person carrying on the legacy of Gary McGillivray,” Gault said in a phone interview following her appointment. “Gary was an amazing man and an excellent public servant. I know he did a lot for Madison Heights and his county commission district, and it’s important to me that I honor that legacy, and do my best to continue that.

“One of the first things I will do is meet with people in my district — including Madison Heights and Hazel Park — to understand their needs and priorities, and how we can improve their lives,” Gault said. “In particular, like Gary, I’m a huge fan of our parks — the open spaces and green spaces for people to get out and enjoy where we live. It’s very important to have those places for our quality of life. I want to make sure that we continue working on improving our existing parks, and I know we have some plans for expanding parks in the district, as well.”

Mark Bliss, the mayor pro tem of Madison Heights, said he has confidence in Gault. However, he is disappointed that a Madison Heights resident was not chosen to represent District 3.

Bliss noted that he had no interest in the seat himself, but that he would have liked the mayor or one of his fellow council members to be selected for the position.

“I don’t normally get involved in things like this — higher-level politics frankly frustrate me — but before this election, I sent the commissioners an email asking them to consider appointing someone from Madison Heights, because this seat has been held by a Madison Heights resident now for several decades, including Gary McGillivray and George Suarez,” Bliss said. “The connection to Madison Heights has been such a strong one, and while every other position in every other elected office is held by someone outside our city, this was the one seat where we had direct representation.”

Bliss said that McGillivray’s perspective as a Madison Heights resident helped broker such deals as the lease agreement for the Red Oaks Nature Center at Suarez Friendship Woods, as well as ongoing investments at Ambassador Park. McGillivray also helped secure county aid during the “green ooze” incident on Interstate 696 in 2019.

“That assistance was second to none,” Bliss said. “I’m not saying that someone from Troy can’t effectively represent Madison Heights, but I am saying that I’m disappointed that after decades of a Madison Heights person representing our city successfully, (the commission) went in this direction, and when there were quality candidates available from our city.”

Sean Fleming, a member of the Madison Heights City Council, said he hopes for the best.

“Hopefully she will be able to carry on in the spirit of Gary McGillivray’s work on the parks, and make sure that the south end of Madison Heights is represented, as well,” Fleming said.

Gault said she will listen carefully to everyone in her district.

“One thing that I learned as a member of the Troy City Council, and I think it’s applicable to any city or district where you’re a public servant representing the people, is it’s important to be accessible and to listen, and to understand and to respond, working for what the people in your district want to see happen,” Gault said. “And transparency is important, too. I will be working hard to communicate with everyone in my district as to what the county is doing, so that they understand how the county’s initiatives can improve their cities and their lives.”