Ferndale council selects local attorney for vacant seat

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published August 12, 2019

 Whittie will serve as a City Council member until at least the end of the year. A person elected by Ferndale residents in November will serve the remaining two years of Melanie Piana’s former term.

Whittie will serve as a City Council member until at least the end of the year. A person elected by Ferndale residents in November will serve the remaining two years of Melanie Piana’s former term.

Photo by Mike Koury

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FERNDALE — After former Councilwoman Melanie Piana resigned last month to run for mayor, the rest of the City Council was tasked with selecting her replacement for the next several months.

At its Aug. 5 meeting, the council unanimously chose local attorney Dennis Whittie as the fifth member of the Ferndale City Council.

Whittie was one of four people who applied to be on the council for the next four months of Piana’s term before residents will be tasked with electing someone on Nov. 5 to serve the remaining two years.

The other three applicants were Collin Garcia, Kat Bruner James and Sherry Wells. Every member of the council said the four applicants, who all have experience in law, were qualified to take over the vacant seat, and they could have gone with any one of them.

After the meeting, Whittie told the Woodward Talk that it felt great to have been chosen by the council, and that he was proud to have been unanimously selected.

“I’ve known Kat and Sherry for a long time. I just met Collin tonight, but he did excellent. Any one of them would’ve been just as qualified as me to take that seat,” he said. “To me, I’m just proud that the council picked me, but at the same time, (I) love (the applicants) as neighbors, fellow activists and just Ferndale residents.”

Whittie also will be running for Piana’s vacant seat in the November election. He is one of four people, along with Rolanda Kelley, Laura Mikulski and Maryanne Wessels, who filed to run for the last two years of her term, which will end Jan. 1, 2022.

Mayor Pro Tem Greg Pawlica said the decision was not an easy one, but he decided to go with Whittie in what he described as a “political move,” since he has worked closely with Whittie before.

“I know the type of person, the individual that he is, his character and his ability to get the job done, and that’s the reason that I’m supporting his position,” he said.

Like every member of the council, Councilman Dan Martin complimented each of the candidates and said he would have taken any of them to fill the vacant seat. The number of “talented, capable” people running for council seats this year is why he said he felt comfortable in not running for reelection.

“I think, for me, the consistency is Dennis is seeking the seat,” he said of why he chose Whittie. “It slides into the two-year term afterwards, so it’s this continuity of service. So it’s more a vote for that in my mind, to support Dennis at this point, than as opposed to anybody else, but I think you’re all wonderful.”

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