Erickson Gault leaves Troy City Council for County Commission

Chandra is now first Troy councilmember of south Asian heritage

By: Brendan Losinski | Troy Times | Published December 6, 2023

 Erickson Gault

Erickson Gault

 Hirak Chandra

Hirak Chandra


TROY — Oakland County has a new county commissioner and Troy has a new City Council member following a sudden shake-up after the Nov. 7 election.

Troy City Council member Ann Erickson Gault was recently selected by the County Commission to fill a seat left vacant following the death of longtime District 3 commissioner Gary McGillivray, who passed away Nov. 3 after a long illness.

“I resigned from Troy City Council (Nov. 16),” explained Erickson Gault. “My (county) appointment runs through the end of the current term, which is Dec. 31, 2024. There will be a primary and general election in 2024 for the term beginning Jan. 1, 2025.”

She stated that she was proud of the work she has been able to do in Troy and hopes to continue serving residents, both in Troy and all over the county, in her new role.

“I hope to continue Gary McGillivray’s mission to expand and improve our parks and green spaces for the people of Oakland County,” Erickson Gault said. “Over the coming months, I will be meeting with the people of my district to learn their needs and priorities and determine how the county can improve their lives.”

Troy’s other City Council members expressed their admiration for Erickson Gault at a recent council meeting.

“Thank you, Ann Erickson Gault. … This role really requires us by charter and by requirement to be nonpartisan and listen to ideas from one another, and Ann (was) able to do that,” said City Council member Ellen Hodorek. “I’m going to miss her as a colleague. I am thrilled she will be representing Troy and we will have an actual resident of Troy sitting on the County Commission. I know you will strive to represent every single resident here.”

However, Erickson Gault was reelected to her Troy City Council seat for a four-year term Nov. 7, leaving a vacancy that needed to be filled. Mayor Ethan Baker and the remaining five council members had to make a decision regarding how that seat would be filled.

City Council seats, in the event of a vacancy, are filled via appointment by the mayor and council for a temporary term that lasts until the next August or November election. After that point, the remainder of the term goes up for a vote by Troy voters.

On Nov. 20, “the council accepted Ann Erickson Gault’s resignation and then, as a separate item, to recognize that she has been appointed as a county commissioner so her office was declared vacant and council could then move forward with an option to fill the seat,” said Troy Clerk Aileen Dickson. “The seat is filled by the appointee until August (of 2024), and then it will be on the ballot so the voters can select a candidate at the polls regarding who will complete the remainder of the term, which ends in November of 2027.”

The council had to decide how to select the new candidate, since the charter doesn’t specify what criteria the council must use to select the appointee.

“The council is supposed to fill a vacant seat within 30 days, according to the city charter,” said Troy City Attorney Lori Grigg Bluhm. “There is no direction in Troy’s charter as to how they fill that position. In the past, council has accepted applications and conducted interviews. … However, there was never a situation like this so soon after an election for seats on the council.”

Consensus at the Nov. 20 City Council meeting was to try to respect the will of the voters by selecting a candidate from the recent election, since they could say with confidence that they were respecting the will of Troy residents. Two candidates in the recent council election, Hirak Chandra and Edward Ross, both received an outpouring of support from residents for them to take up Erickson Gault’s vacant seat.

“Despite not being required by charter, councils (in the past) have chosen to take applications and do interviews,” said Hodorek. “That had to be done because we didn’t know for sure who was interested in the council seat. Seeking applications was a way to discern who might be interested in these seats in a formal way.”

Three seats, including Erickson Gault’s, were up for election Nov. 7. Incumbent Theresa Brooks received 8,169 votes, Erickson Gault received 7,426 votes and newcomer Mark Gunn received 5,599 votes. Chandra came in fourth, receiving 5,557 votes, and Ross came in fifth with 4,945 votes.

Although Gunn expressed his admiration for Ross as a candidate for the council seat, the mayor and other four council members said that they supported the appointment of Chandra, since he received the next highest number of votes.

“We appreciate that Ed Ross came here tonight to speak to us … and that there were several residents who came out in support of him,” said Hodorek. “But the numbers between the fourth place and the fifth place candidates — and (Ross) was fifth — were significant enough that, no matter who you support, if you take the names out, I think you can understand that asking council to disregard those numbers and what the voters of the city (responded with) on their ballots is a big ask of us. It’s asking us to disregard ballots that were finalized just days ago.”

Ross said he was disappointed but respects the council’s selection.

“The council made their decision, and I look forward to continuing to engage with the council on public safety issues,” said Ross in an email. “I wish them the best and hope for their success in working on important issues for our city and its residents.”

Chandra was officially sworn in on the council at a meeting Dec. 4, with a vote of 4-1, with Gunn voting against and Councilwoman Rebecca Chamberlain Creanga being absent.

Chandra is now the first Troy councilmember of South Asian heritage. He thanked the council and voters for their confidence in him.

“I’m very thankful to the council for deciding to appoint me,” said Chandra. “I think it’s the logical choice because I was only 42 votes short of being elected. I believe the council honored the mandate of voters in Troy. I’m happy to be there, and there is another election in August, so voters will get a chance to decide at that time,” whether they want him to remain on council, he said.

County commissioners make around $42,000 per year. Troy City Council members receive a total of $2,260.65 per year in compensation.