Fouts and McFall face off for state House seat

By: Gena Johnson | Warren Weekly | Published May 3, 2024

 LEFT: Jim Fouts. RIGHT: Mike McFall

LEFT: Jim Fouts. RIGHT: Mike McFall


WARREN — Former Warren Mayor Jim Fouts and current state Rep. Mike McFall filed as Democrats to run in the Aug. 6 primary election in District 14 of the Michigan House of Representatives.

In November, the winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Barbara Barber, who was left uncontested after the April 23 candidate filing deadline.

The newly redistricted District 14 represents Center Line, Hazel Park, Madison Heights and parts of Warren. The term of office is two years.

“Constituent concerns in the neighborhoods” and “people-centered legislation” were the priorities of Fouts and McFall, respectively.


Fouts: ‘I understand how things get done, and how they work’
“My No. 1 priority will be taking care of constituent concerns in the neighborhood,” Fouts said. “When I was a city councilman, when I was mayor, I was known as neighborhood councilman and kind of the neighborhood mayor. People knew they could call me day or night. I will focus on that.”

Among the issues Fouts addressed were fireworks, illegal rentals and grow operations. He would like to see more city control regarding these issues.

“Marijuana is legal to grow in homes but there should be some better control of grow operations,” said the former mayor. “Because I get complaints from people about the smell coming from their (the growers’) homes. There needs to be better control at the state level.”

Fouts continued.

“It’s local control. I don’t want to tell every city what they can do. I want to allow individual cities to have control over things of that nature,” he said.

Fouts was in office for 16 years as mayor and served until it was ruled he could not run again in the November 2023 election due to term limits. Prior to that, he served more than 25 years on the Warren City Council. Both positions are nonpartisan elected offices.

“I am very familiar with Center Line. We’ve (Warren has) worked closely with Center Line. I’m happy to work with them. I know Center Line quite well and I think most of the people know me,” Fouts said. “I grew up in Hazel Park. I graduated from Hazel Park High. My dad was (the) city manager of Hazel Park, so I’m familiar with that.”

Fouts addressed Madison Heights as an area he grew up knowing and one that is across the street from his current jogging route.

Before entering politics, Fouts was a high school government teacher and would like to see more funding for education.

“The state has allocated a 3% funding increase, but I think we need more than that,” Fouts said.  “Right now, we can’t get substitute teachers because teachers’ pay is too low. Therefore the schools are short substitutes. If you don’t have substitutes, you have to put several classes together and that doesn’t work out.”

At the state level, Fouts plans to encourage people to buy American products, prevent companies which receive tax abatements from taking high-paying jobs overseas and continue to support unions. He would also like to see less taxes on retirees 401(k) plans.

Fouts would like to secure funding from the state for various city departments including police, fire, water and sanitation. He also would like to see more political collaboration, according to him, as was done with the Mound Road project between Macomb County, the city of Sterling Heights and the city of Warren, which resulted in state and federal funding.

“I think we need more funding to do 696 South. We’ve done 696 North,” Fouts said.

The longtime politician began his journey into politics more than 40 years ago by running for the Michigan House of Representatives three times. He lost three times before he ran for Warren City Council and won, staying 26 years.

“When I ran the first time, I was young. I think I was around 30. I didn’t know a good deal of what I was doing. Today, I am a seasoned veteran. I’ve been around a long time,” Fouts said about his candidacy for the Michigan Legislature in 2024. “I understand how things get done, and how they work.”

Fouts added, “I have a background in legislative work. I have a background in executive work. And I have a background as a teacher. So I think that will be helpful.”


McFall: ‘We have focused very much on people-centered legislation’
McFall served his first term in the state House of Representatives in District 8, which comprised parts of Oakland and Wayne counties including Madison Heights, Hazel Park, Ferndale, Highland Park and parts of Detroit.

According to McFall, the new district will not change the outcome of his campaign too much.

“Half of the district I already represent, and I feel I have represented it very well, bringing quite a bit back to the district,” McFall said. “I am not expecting it to alter it that much. It’s just that now I will represent part of Macomb County instead of Wayne County.”

McFall has connections with the cities represented in the new District 14.

“I was on the Hazel Park City Council prior to getting elected as state representative when I was elected in 2022. I have lived in Madison Heights, previously, a long time ago. I have represented Madison Heights and Hazel Park for going on two years. I know a lot of people in Warren because it is a border community,” McFall said. “We have a lot of interaction with our businesses and just people in general. I don’t think it will be much of a change.

“We have a lot in common with Madison Heights, Hazel Park, Warren and Center Line. So I actually feel it is a great fit,” said the state representative.

McFall served two years on the Hazel Park City Council as mayor pro tem, a designation that goes to the highest vote-getter. During his tenure, he spearheaded several economic development initiatives including the Main Street Hazel Park program, which worked to attract new business to Hazel Park and support existing businesses, according to McFall.

“I have a very good record for my time here in the House voting,” McFall said. “We have focused very much on people-centered legislation. Cutting taxes for seniors by repealing the pension tax. We have record funding for public schools. We provided lunch and breakfast for all public school students. We added LGBTQ rights to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976. We passed commonsense gun reforms, gun violence reforms.

“I run on my record,” McFall said.

Among the pieces of legislation McFall is currently working on is MI Secure Retirement, which he said creates a secure savings program for small businesses that can’t afford to have a retirement savings program of their own but would like to provide one for their employees.

“It is very similar to the college saving program, the 529 college savings program, where it is a public-private partnership, where it is overseen by the treasury,” McFall said. “It will allow people to start saving for retirement earlier than what they may have and hopefully keep people off of public assistance as they age and retire, as well as keep them in the homes they’ve lived in so they don’t have to move, so they can age in place.”

McFall further explained the retirement plan.

“Right now, there’s about 41% of the Michigan workforce that does not have access to any sort of retirement savings program whatsoever. Instead of going out and having to seek something on your own, your employer will sign you up for the program through the state,” McFall said.

The money would be pulled directly from the worker’s paycheck. According to McFall, there are roughly 16 other states already doing this.

McFall prides himself on being accessible.

“Even though I am no longer on the City Council, I still get residents that contact me because their garbage didn’t get picked up,” McFall said. “Residents know that I am reliable so they can always count on me to help them with their issues.”