Ferndale, Berkley voters to decide mayoral, council races

Woodward Talk | Published October 11, 2023


FERNDALE/BERKLEY/HUNTINGTON WOODS/PLEASANT RIDGE — In the Talk’s coverage area, voters Nov. 7 will elect candidates in mayoral and city council elections.

Candidates were asked, in 75 words or fewer, to state their top goal(s) if elected. If a candidate went over the word limit, (…) replaces the rest of the answer. (I) indicates the candidate is an incumbent. The answers are printed verbatim.

Profile forms were not sent to candidates who are running unopposed, which includes candidates in Berkley, Huntington Woods and Pleasant Ridge.


Ferndale Mayor
Two candidates are running for one two-year term.


Sean Hurley
Did not return questionnaire by press time.


Raylon Leaks-May

Age: 54

Occupation: Information and Referral Specialist

Municipality of residence: Ferndale, Michigan

For how long: 30+ Years

Online campaign information: Raylon4Ferndale.com

Education: B.A., Madonna University, A.A. and A.S. Oakland Community College

Previously held elected offices: Elected Trustee for the Ferndale Public Schools Board of Education, 2012-2015 and twice-elected Ferndale City Councilmember, 2016-Present.

Top goals: If elected, I plan to advocate for accessible and affordable housing, including barrier-free models. I plan to advocate for more community engagement, allowing fruitful discussions when it comes to responsible budgeting, preservation of our city services and the development of a recreational space that we can call our own. Also, I plan to advocate for equity and inclusion initiatives providing affirmation that you belong here, whether you are a resident, business owner, employee or visitor.


Ferndale City Council
Three candidates are running for two four-year terms.


Donnie Johnson

Age: 38

Occupation: Associate Budget Director, City of Detroit

Municipality of residence: Ferndale

For how long: 9 years in January 2024

Online campaign information: www.DonnieForFerndale.com

Education: B.A. in Chinese Language & Literature, George Washington University; Jurisdoctor, Catholic University of America; Master of Laws — Taxation, Georgetown University; Master of Library & Information Science, University of Maryland — College Park

Previously held elected offices: This is my first time running for elected office.

Top goals: If elected, I would work to:

Increase housing availability in Ferndale, both affordable and market rate;

Supplement Oakland County home repair program for seniors and working families;

Create a small business support program with startup and business improvement loans;

Improve city infrastructure, including replacing the Kulick Center


Rolanda Kelley

Age: 49

Occupation: Senior Level Manager at Costco Wholesale

Municipality of residence: Ferndale

For how long: 8 years

Online campaign information: rolandakelleyforcouncil.com

Education: Early Childhood Development—Athens State

Dale Carnegie Business Management & Leadership Certification

DE&I Certification Costco U

Previously held elected offices: Ferndale Precinct Delegate 2019-present

Top goals: I’m passionate about Ferndale and its people. I’m here to serve, leveraging my background as a community builder to ensure the voices of residents are at the forefront of every decision. My priorities are transparency and connectivity between residents with city leadership, sustainable growth, and responsible budgeting. Your vote is the key to making this vision a reality — let’s shape a Ferndale that thrives for everyone who calls it home! Go with Ro November 7th.


Dennis Whittie

Age: 45

Occupation: Attorney

Municipality of residence: Ferndale, Michigan

For how long: 45 years

Online campaign information: www.DennisWhittie.com

Education: Master of Public Administration, Wayne State Univ., Juris Doctor, Cooley Law School, B.A. Political Science, A.A.S. Criminal Justice

Previously held elected offices: Served a temporary term on the Ferndale City Council in 2019.

Top goals: My goals are to (1) Implement solutions for our never-ending blockages at our railroad crossings, (2) Maintain and improve core city services (Police, Fire, DPW), (3) Increase community engagement, (4) Work toward affordable housing, and (5) Be a responsive steward of city finances.



Berkley Mayor
One candidate is running unopposed for one two-year term.

Bridget Dean (I)
Running unopposed.



Berkley City Council
Four candidates are running for three four-year terms.

Clarence Black

Age: 46

Occupation: Soldier

Municipality of residence: Berkley, Michigan

For how long: 15 years

Online campaign information: www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=61550646476415

Education: BA Hillsdale College 2000

Previously held elected offices: N/A

Top goals: My goal is to improve communications between the city of Berkley and its residents. We have an amazing community, and it will be even better once we get more of citizens informed and activated.


Michael Dooley (I)

Age: 60

Occupation: Director of Operations — Park Rite Wayne

Municipality of residence: Berkley

For how long: 35 years

Online campaign information: mikedooleyforberkley@gmail.com

Education: Business Administration Degree — OCC

Previously held elected offices: Current City Councilman – 8 months, city of Berkley

Top goals: My goal is to be inclusive and efficient to build a better partnership between the city government and the residents of Berkley. I want to ensure that everyone has a say in in the decisions that impact them and build a sense of unity within the community.


Ross Gavin (I)

Age: 37

Occupation: Policy Director of Urban Land Use, Water Infrastructure, and Transportation

Municipality of residence: Berkley

For how long: 8 years

Online campaign information: www.rossgavin.com

Education: B.A. Albion College; M.A. Wayne State University; J.D. Wayne State University

Previously held elected offices: Berkley City Council (2017-Present)

Top goals: Continue to improve city infrastructure (roads, water and sewer lines, and city buildings), continue work to make the city more energy efficient, implement green stormwater infrastructure to mitigate stormwater runoff and reduce basement back-ups, identify and secure funding for a new community center, continue to pay down our long-term debt liabilities, ensure levels of city services that residents expect and deserve, improve communication with residents, and encourage sound budgeting practices.


Greg Patterson (I)

Age: 40

Occupation: Nursing/Education

Municipality of residence: Berkley

For how long: 12 years

Online campaign information: www.facebook.com/PattersonforBerkley

Education: Master of Science in Nursing, Concentration in Leadership and Management

Previously held elected offices: Berkley City Council (Appointed), February 2023-Present; Berkley Planning Commission, 2018-23; Berkley Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, 2017-2023

Top goals: I will continue to be an independent voice, representing the interests of all Berkley residents. I aim to practice responsible budgeting, explore new partnerships to reduce the cost of future initiatives, protect the character of our neighborhoods, support sensible business growth, and ensure we remain highly ranked for public safety. I will continue my work improving Berkley’s communication plan, expanding our city’s senior wellness check initiative, and investigating creative solutions for updating Berkley’s aging infrastructure.



Huntington Woods Mayor
One candidate is running unopposed for one four-year term.

Robert F. Paul III (I)
Running unopposed.


Huntington Woods City Commission
Two candidates are running unopposed for two four-year terms.

Michelle Elder (I)
Running unopposed.


Jessica Jacobs Steinhart
Running unopposed.


Pleasant Ridge City Commission
Two candidates are running unopposed for two four-year terms.

Chris Budnik (I)
Running unopposed.

Ann Perry (I)
Running unopposed.