Election filing deadline sees open seats, newcomers enter races

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published July 29, 2019

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FERNDALE/BERKLEY/HUNTINGTON WOODS/PLEASANT RIDGE —The filing deadline for the November election passed July 23, and many races in the Woodward Talk’s coverage area will be contested.

In the city of Ferndale, many newcomers will vie for seats on the City Council. With current Mayor Dave Coulter not running for reelection, former Councilwoman Melanie Piana is looking to succeed him, and she will attempt to do so versus resident Brian Stawowy.

As Piana resigned from the council to run for mayor, the partial term for her former seat that will end Jan. 1, 2022, will be up for grabs in November. Four people submitted their names in that race: Rolanda Kelley, Laura Mikulski, Maryanne Wessels and Dennis G. Whittie.

Two four-year terms on the council also will be on the ballot, with the current seats of Dan Martin and Raylon Leaks-May expiring at the end of the year. Leaks-May will run for reelection, while Martin has chosen not to seek reelection.

“It’s different for every person, but I think these jobs have a life span and no one should be a city councilperson forever,” Martin said. “The eight-year mark seemed like a good time to continue to work for public causes, but in different ways. I’m not going to go away. I just don’t need to be elected to do some of the stuff I want to do next.”

Martin said he will look to focus on affordable housing and health care in the community after leaving the council. While he’s not at the point of reflection on his time on the council, he’s thankful for the staff and council members whom he worked with.

“I could not have asked for a better experience serving in a public position like that,” he said. “It hasn’t always been perfect, but my goodness, when I hear about the stories in other cities and other places, it’s really, truly been a spectacular experience. I feel very grateful.”

Along with Leaks-May, Ben Buttolph, Nada Daher, Augusto Flores and Kat Bruner James submitted their names for the council election.

In Berkley, Mayor Dan Terbrack will look to stay in his current position for another two years, and will do so in a race against Robert B. Lathrop.

Three seats will be open for a place on the City Council, each with a four-year term. Bridget Dean and Ross Gavin will be seeking reelection, while Eileen Steadman has chosen not to submit her name.

Steadman could not be reached for comment by press time.

Susan Citraro, Nitin Naidu, Natalie Price and Charles Tyrrell also have submitted their names to run for a council seat.

Bob Paul will run for another four-year term as mayor in Huntington Woods. He was the only person to declare for the position at the deadline.

The seats of Michelle Elder and Jeffrey Jenks on the City Commission will expire at the end of 2019, and both have chosen to run for reelection. One other potential candidate withdrew from the race July 26.

In Pleasant Ridge, there will be two four-year terms on the ballot, with the seats of Ann Perry and Jason Krzysiak expiring. Perry submitted her name to be on the ballot, along with resident Christopher Budnik, but Krzysiak has chosen not to run for reelection.

Krzysiak said he felt that eight years as a city commissioner were enough for him, and that the commission accomplished a lot during that time, such as getting a human rights ordinance passed and seeing investment in the parks and community center.

“I really felt like it was time to give another resident a chance,” he said. “I feel two terms — eight years — that’s a long time, and one thing I really love is this idea of vibrant democracy, especially at the local level, and I think encouraging others to run, encouraging others to serve in that capacity can be good long term for those types of goals, getting more residents involved. So I felt like eight years was good for me as a commissioner and that it’s time to let somebody else give it a try.”

Another factor in leaving, Krzysiak said, was that he wanted to spend more time with his family, as it took a learning curve to balance his responsibilities as a husband and father while working full time and serving on the City Commission.

“Spending more time with them, making sure that I’m present for this part of their lives, was really important to me,” he said. “I still definitely plan on staying involved. I feel like some of the things I’ve learned as a city commissioner — being more involved locally and politically — it’s taught me some lessons, and I definitely think I want to encourage local involvement in local politics.”

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