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 Dan Martin is sworn in as Ferndale mayor by City Clerk Marne McGrath at the end of the City Council’s Sept. 9 meeting. Martin will serve as mayor until the end of the year.

Dan Martin is sworn in as Ferndale mayor by City Clerk Marne McGrath at the end of the City Council’s Sept. 9 meeting. Martin will serve as mayor until the end of the year.

Photo by Mike Koury

Martin to serve as Ferndale mayor until end of year

City to make 3rd council appointment in 2 months

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published September 10, 2019

FERNDALE — The Ferndale City Council didn’t go too far to find a temporary replacement for mayor.

At its Sept. 9 meeting, the council selected Councilman Dan Martin to serve as mayor for the next four months, while a new mayor will be elected in November and sworn in at the beginning of January.

“I’m really humbled and flattered that my colleagues feel like they can entrust me with this,” he told C & G Newspapers. “It’s a big job, and if I can get us safely to the end of the year, which I’m sure we’ll be fine, we have a great team and we’re going to do well.

Martin was one of five people who applied for mayor, along with residents Melinda Cupples, Melanie Piana, Brian Stawowy and Sherry Wells. Piana and Stawowy both are running for mayor in the Nov. 5 election.

There was concern noted during the meeting — from residents who spoke on the matter, those running for office and the council — about selecting one of the two people running for mayor, as it could give an unfair advantage heading into the election.

“We need to remove the politics behind this,” said Augusto Flores, who is running for City Council in November. “We need to be able to select somebody that is not going to be on the ballot or is currently not on the ballot to avoid unfair influence in the next 60 days that we have remaining.”

After each applicant took a couple of minutes to speak on why they should be appointed as mayor, the three remaining members of council were tasked with selecting one to serve. Because he had submitted his own name, Martin recused himself from the council during the deliberation.

The Ferndale city charter requires the majority of council to pass any motion, meaning three people. As there were only three council members available at this point in the meeting, there had to be a unanimous decision on who would be the next mayor.

“I’ve struggled with this for weeks now on exactly who would be the best person to take us through the end of the year,” Councilman Dennis Whittie said during the meeting. “I think all the candidates are great. … I know all three of us are struggling with this quite a bit.”

Whittie motioned to appoint Martin as mayor, which was supported by Councilwoman Raylon Leaks-May, who said this was a “grueling decision.”

Mayor Pro Tem Greg Pawlica agreed with people that someone who is running for mayor should not be selected. He also agreed with others that it shouldn’t be Martin, as it would cause a “disruption” and the City Council would have to go through its third process in recent weeks to appoint someone to council.

In August, the council appointed Whittie to Piana’s former seat after she resigned in order to run for mayor. A couple of weeks later, former Mayor Dave Coulter resigned to be appointed as Oakland County executive. If Martin was chosen, the city would have to find yet another person to fill out the five-member council.

Ferndale has hired a new city manager this year and its fire chief retired, so the city has seen many personnel changes.

“I don't want to have any more instability,” Pawlica said. “I think stability matters. First and foremost, my responsibility is to the people of Ferndale, the city, how the city operates. Honestly, I’m not sure how I’m going to vote.”

Martin, who is not running for reelection in November, said this was something he considered as well, but he viewed his appointment in a “broader view of stability” that includes giving consistent leadership over the course of the next four months as the council moves into a new era with the next election.

“To me, appointing a councilperson for a few months isn’t that arduous,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’ve gotten pretty good at it. So it didn’t seem like a big hurdle to get by.”

Martin’s appointment ended up being approved by all three members of council.

Whittie brought up adding an agenda item to the meeting to discuss filling Martin’s vacant seat. This action allowed the city to begin accepting applications from residents after the meeting instead of waiting until the next meeting to do so. The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 23.

Residents have until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, to submit an application for Martin’s open council seat. His term ends at the end of the year.