Klinefelt, Hall-Rayford prevail in Eastpointe mayoral primary

By: Brian Wells | Roseville-Eastpointe Eastsider | Published August 18, 2023










EASTPOINTE — After the results of the August primary, Eastpointe voters will elect a new mayor in the general election this November.

Candidates Michael Klinefelt and Mary Hall-Rayford received the two largest vote totals and advanced to face each other in the Nov. 7 general election. The results eliminated Eastpointe’s current mayor, Monique Owens, who finished third, and Councilwoman Stacy Cobb-Muñiz, who finished fourth in the four-candidate primary.

“I’m happy to get through the primary,” Klinefelt said.

Klinefelt, 35, received 2,149 votes, which equaled 57.2% of the total votes cast. He has resided in Eastpointe for 30 years and previously served on the Eastpointe City Council from 2015 to 2019. Currently he is working as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Wayne County.

Hall-Rayford, 71, a retired educator and current Eastpointe Community Schools trustee, received 633 or 16.8% of the total votes.

Going forward, Klinefelt said he is going to be “stepping up” his campaigning for the general election in November.

“I’m only halfway there,” he said.

Klinefelt and Hall-Rayford are competing for one four-year term.

"I am ecstatic to have prevailed as one of the top vote-getters and looking forward to the general election," Hall-Rayford said in an email. "Mike and I are friends and I won't be upset if he wins, but I will be disappointed if I lose. Either of us winning is a win for the city and that's the most important aspect of this race."

Owens received 531 votes, which was 14.1% of the total, while Cobb-Muñiz, who was appointed to the City Council in January, received 446 votes — 11.9% of the total.

Owens did not return a request for comment. During the Aug. 15 City Council meeting, she thanked those who voted in the primary.

Owens, 39, who became the city’s first Black mayor four years ago, served on the Eastpointe City Council from 2017 until she was elected mayor. In March, she was arraigned on one charge of false pretenses $1,000 or more but less than $20,000, a five-year felony, after being accused by Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido of fraudulently applying for a grant under the CARES Act in November 2020.

The charge is one of several controversies involving the mayor. In 2022, a complaint was filed against Owens by former Eastpointe Arts & Cultural Diversity Commission Chair Alysa Diebolt, who stated that Owens violated the city’s ethics ordinance by calling the city’s public safety director to be present at City Hall during an incident in February 2020. The complaint was dismissed, but the City Council voted 3-1 to censure Owens at an April 2022 meeting. The motion was introduced by Councilman Cardi Demonaco Jr., Diebolt’s husband.

Later, in June 2022, Owens filed a request for a personal protection order against Councilman Harvey Curley after she said he assaulted her during the opening ceremonies of the annual Cruisin’ Gratiot event. However, a Macomb County Circuit Court judge later denied the request.

In November 2022, after Owens attempted to prevent two Eastpointe residents, one being Hall-Rayford, from speaking about Curley during the public comment section of a September City Council meeting, the residents, along with two others, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleging that Owens had violated their First Amendment rights. In December, U.S. District Court Judge Terrence G. Berg issued an injunction that states that “members of the public may direct and/or express comment, criticism or praise to and regarding public officials.”

In 2019, Owens beat Klinefelt for the position of mayor of Eastpointe by a margin of 19 votes. At the time, both were serving on the Eastpointe City Council.

“I’m glad to see that voters have been paying attention, and I think it’s time that the city goes in a different direction,” Klinefelt said.

Cobb-Muñiz congratulated Klinefelt and Hall-Rayford. She also stated the importance of voting.

“Going forward, it is imperative that Eastpointers actively engage in the governmental process — in exercising their right to vote, showing up and participating in on-going conversation at Council meetings and calling for the transparency and accountability of their elected officials,” she said in an email.

Her term on City Council will end at the end of the year.

“I’ve been blessed to make an impact through my local community work, chairing the board of ethics, as a planning commissioner and even in my short seven months on City Council,” she said. “Our city administration and staff are by far some of the hardest-working and most dedicated individuals you will find working alongside elected officials.”

By the July deadline, six candidates filed to run for two four-year terms on the City Council Nov. 7. The candidates are Miranda Nicole Barconey, Vicky Coleman, Curley, Wanda Moody, Margaret Podsiadlik and Nicola Strong.