Newcomers named by voters in Grosse Pointe City

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published November 9, 2023

 From left, attorney David Draper is sworn into office as Grosse Pointe City’s new municipal court judge by retiring Judge Russell Ethridge Nov. 13 inside the courtroom, as dozens of family members and friends look on.

From left, attorney David Draper is sworn into office as Grosse Pointe City’s new municipal court judge by retiring Judge Russell Ethridge Nov. 13 inside the courtroom, as dozens of family members and friends look on.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran









GROSSE POINTE CITY — Grosse Pointe City has a new municipal court judge and a new member of City Council.

Voters Nov. 7 named attorney David Draper to succeed the retiring Russell Ethridge, who served for 25 years on the City’s municipal court bench. Draper received 38.14% of the vote in a close race with Sarah Colgrove, who received 35.77% of the vote. Of the other judicial candidates, Thomas Gregory Krall emerged with 23.16% of the vote, while Bryan A. Sunisloe received 2.82%.

In a contested race for Grosse Pointe City Council, relative newcomer Seth Krupp — who was appointed in July 2022 to serve the remainder of City Councilman John Stempfle’s term — was the highest vote-getter in his first election, receiving 28.42% of the total. City Councilman Terence Thomas was the second-highest vote-getter, with 27.06% of the total. In a surprise, challenger Christopher Moyer defeated 16-year City Councilman Donald Parthum Jr. by a vote of 23.57% to 20.61%. Council members are elected for four-year terms.

Mayor Sheila Tomkowiak ran unopposed for another two-year term.

Draper has been an attorney for 33 years and said he has practiced in courts across the state. He said Ethridge was a mentor to him and “one of the best judges I’ve ever been in front of.”

Draper said he wants to maintain the standards Ethridge has set. Draper said people have told him they were treated fairly and felt heard when they appeared before Ethridge.

“I want to keep up that tradition, and I know I will,” Draper said. “You’ve got to do what you think is right and make the best decision you can.”

Draper wanted to thank voters for naming him to succeed Ethridge. 

“It’s the greatest honor of my legal career,” Draper said. “I will do my best to be fair to everyone and make sure everybody is treated equally.”

At press time, Draper was slated to be sworn in Nov. 13 by Ethridge.

Slightly over 35% of the City’s 5,156 registered voters — 1,819 — cast ballots in this election.

City Clerk/Assistant City Manager Christopher Hardenbrook said voter turnout was in line with what they expected for a local election. This was Hardenbrook’s first election as clerk, having succeeded Clerk Julie Arthurs, but he has worked on elections for years and trained under Arthurs in preparation for her retirement.

Parthum, an attorney, said he wanted to thank his supporters.

“I’ve enjoyed my 16 years serving the city of Grosse Pointe,” Parthum said. “We’ve accomplished wonderful things. We navigated the Great Recession and didn’t have to cut services. I think the City has a bright future. The City is in good hands, and I wish the new council the best of luck going forward.”

Moyer, the senior director of communications for Visit Detroit, praised Parthum for his work on the council.

“He has been an incredible servant (of the community) who listens and cares,” Moyer said of Parthum. “I thank him, and I think he deserves a lot of gratitude for what he’s done.”

Moyer has only lived in the City since 2018, but said his wife’s family is from the community. He’s been active with the city in recent years as a member of the Main Street Grosse Pointe Downtown Development Authority Board, for which he’s the secretary. He and his wife are the parents of a young daughter who turns 6-months-old the week of Nov. 13.

“I ran (for council) because I really have felt such a warm sense of community since I moved to Grosse Pointe,” Moyer said.

Moyer said tackling long-term infrastructure issues — including water, flooding, roadwork and frequent power outages — are among the things he hopes to work on during his council tenure. He also believes maintaining the City’s tree canopy is a priority.

Moyer said he was “humbled and honored” to be chosen by the voters.

“What I really want to bring to council is a commitment to relentless positive energy,” Moyer said. “If we listen to our neighbors and our citizens, we’re going to continue to be a great place to live, work and play.”

Hardenbrook said that since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Michigan in March 2020, the City has seen an increase in requests for absentee ballots, with more and more voters being asked to be named to the permanent absentee ballot list now that no-excuse absentee voting is allowed in Michigan.

“People have realized how convenient and efficient it is,” Hardenbrook said of being able to study the ballot at home.

Hardenbrook thanked everyone who worked on the election, saying it was successful because of them.

“While it was my first election running without the great direction of Julie Arthurs, previous City Clerk, I definitely did not run it solo,” Hardenbrook said by email. “It would be impossible to run an election without all the help and assistance I receive from the Public Service Director and his team, to the Finance Director and front desk clerks at City Hall, to the many dedicated Election Inspectors it takes to staff the (polls) and the AV Counting Board.”