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Council members have decisions to make ahead of filing deadline

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published May 14, 2019 | Updated May 17, 2019 4:19pm

FERNDALE — The November election is shaping up to be a big one in Ferndale, as multiple City Council terms are expiring and a new mayor will be chosen.

The Nov. 5 election will see the mayorship up for grabs, as Dave Coulter announced last month that he will not seek reelection. Council seats also will be open, as the terms for Dan Martin and Raylon Leaks-May are set to expire at the end of the year, on Dec. 31.

With the open seat for mayor, Martin and Leaks-May could decide to run for mayor instead of their own council seats. City Clerk Marne McGrath said someone whose term does expire at the end of the year could pick up nominating packets for both positions and turn them in by the July 23 deadline, but they would have three days afterward to decide for which of those two seats they want to run.

“You can run for both right up until push comes to shove, and then you have to make a decision,” she said.

For Leaks-May, she said she will focus on running for reelection for her own council seat and will not run for mayor.

“The mayor’s (seat is) not out of the reach for me,” she said. “It’s just that I’m not finished in the position that I am in. Not really interested in mayor right now.”

Leaks-May did say she would “absolutely” consider running for mayor in the future.

Martin could not be reached for comment by press time.

As for if the other two council members, Melanie Piana and Mayor Pro Tem Greg Pawlica, want to run for mayor, they would have to resign from their council seats to do so, as their terms don’t expire until the end of 2021.

“That would have to be done prior to that July 23 deadline,” McGrath said.

Piana announced May 16 that she would be running for mayor.

“I’m running for Mayor of Ferndale to ensure opportunity for all of our citizens,” she said in a prepared statement. “I believe our common cause is nurturing what we love about Ferndale while preparing for our collective future. Our lives are directly impacted by the choices we make together as a community. As Mayor, you can count on my problem-solving, thoughtful decision-making and collaborative spirit to move us forward.”

Pawlica said he’s very happy serving his community as a member of the council and as mayor pro tem, and won’t be running for mayor this term.

“I wouldn’t be doing that this term,” he said. “I don’t see myself running for mayor in the foreseeable future, but that’s not to say years down the line I might not change my mind. But definitely not this term.”

With two more months until the deadline for submitting nomination packets, residents might find themselves asked by potential candidates to sign their petitions.

McGrath said that, in case people are not aware, they only can sign petitions for as many seats as are available for that election.

That means that for the 2019 election, residents can sign one petition for a mayoral candidate and up to two petitions for the council members race. Otherwise, their signature will not be counted.

“If someone were to sign, like, four petitions for someone running for mayor, they’re only permitted to sign for one person and have it be valid,” McGrath said. “So anytime they sign for more petitions than there are seats available to be nominated, that invalidates their signature on all of them.”