Some Grosse Pointes to have August primaries this year

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 10, 2021

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GROSSE POINTES — Besides swimming, boating and golfing, there’s another activity adults might want to add to their summer plans this year: voting.

There will be a primary election for at least some of the Grosse Pointes Aug. 3.

In Grosse Pointe Park, Mayor Robert Denner isn’t seeking reelection. Both of the candidates vying for the mayoral seat are council incumbents — Michele Hodges and Lauri Read — which means that the city’s next mayor will also be its first female mayor. Mayors are elected to a two-year term in the Park.

While the mayoral contest isn’t on the primary ballot, a hotly contested City Council race is. Park City Clerk Jane Blahut said by email that longtime incumbent City Councilman James Robson withdrew his candidacy for another term by the April 23 deadline, but that still leaves seven candidates. Incumbent City Councilwoman Darci McConnell — who was appointed to fill a vacancy last year — is running for one of three four-year council terms; the other candidates are Brian Bremmer, Tom Caulfield, Christine Gallagher, Jeff Greer, Tim Kolar and Max Weiner.

“There are no local proposals on the August primary ballot,” Blahut explained by email. “The only office that will be included for the primary is (for) council member. We have seven (candidates), and the primary will reduce it to six.”

Running for Park Municipal Court judge are incumbent Carl Jarboe and challenger Charissa Potts.

There won’t be any City Council races on the Grosse Pointe Farms primary ballot — all of those races are uncontested — but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any changes.

After 20 years in elected office — 14 of them as the city’s first generally elected mayor — Farms City Councilman James Farquhar isn’t running for reelection this year. Farquhar is the longest-serving mayor in Farms history and a third-generation Farms resident. In 2019, the Pier Park harbor was named in his honor, an acknowledgement not only of his work on the council, but also as a member of the Farms Parks & Harbor Committee since its infancy circa 1985.

Farms Mayor Louis Theros is running unchallenged for another two-year term. Running for the three four-year council seats are incumbent Farms City Council members John Gillooly and Beth Konrad-Wilberding, and Sierra Leone Donaven.

Donaven isn’t entirely new to the council, however. Active with the Farms Beautification Advisory Commission for years, she was appointed to fill a council vacancy in August 2018. Donaven made history locally as the first African American to serve on a city council in any of the Grosse Pointes. She lost the seat during a contested council election in November 2019.

As Farms City Clerk Derrick Kozicki noted, it’s the race for Grosse Pointe Farms/Shores municipal court judge that’s triggering the primary. If one of the three candidates had withdrawn by the April 23 deadline, Kozicki said by email that the “August primary would (have been) canceled,” but there are three, and by charter, that number needs to be whittled to two for the November election.

With longtime incumbent Farms Municipal Court Judge Matthew Rumora unable to run for reelection because of age restrictions, the field of candidates is all new. Charles Berschback and Kevin M. Smith, of the Farms, and Dean Metry, of the Shores, will be on the August primary ballot, which will eliminate one of them.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the League of Women Voters of Grosse Pointe will be holding virtual candidate forums for contested local races on the August ballot. A candidate forum for Grosse Pointe Farms/Shores municipal judge candidates will be shown via Zoom from 7 to 8:30 p.m. June 23, while a forum for Grosse Pointe Park City Council candidates will be shown via Zoom from 7 to 8:30 p.m. June 24. Both forums will be recorded and uploaded to the LWVGP YouTube channel by June 25. Voters who’d like to submit questions for candidates can do so through the league’s website, lwvgrossepointe.org; the deadline for questions is noon June 22.

The LWVGP will have candidate guides for the primary posted on the nonpartisan website Vote411.org after June 30.

“Non-partisan candidate forums are a part of LWV history,” a press release from the LWVGP reads, in part. “Leagues around the country continue to hold debates and forums for local and state offices.”

Candidates in Grosse Pointe City, Grosse Pointe Shores and Grosse Pointe Woods still have time to complete nominating petitions to run for local offices.

“There is no primary election in the City of Grosse Pointe,” Grosse Pointe City Clerk Julie Arthurs said by email. “All candidates filing for office run at the November odd-year election. The petition filing deadline for the November election is July 20 … at 4 p.m.”

Arthurs said the six council members serve staggered four-year terms, and the mayor serves a two-year term. That means this year, Mayor Sheila Tomkowiak and City Council members Christopher Walsh, Daniel Williams and Maureen Juip would be up for reelection, should they decide to run. Voters in the City will select a mayor and three council members. City Municipal Court Judge Russell Ethridge was last elected in 2019 and his term expires in 2023.

In Grosse Pointe Shores, the mayor and the six members of the City Council all serve four-year terms; council terms are staggered. Mayor Ted Kedzierski doesn’t face reelection until 2023, but this year, Shores City Council incumbents Robert Barrette and Matthew Seely would be up for reelection, if they decide to run again.

City Councilman Doug Kucyk, whose term was set to expire in November 2023, recently stepped down because he was moving out of the community. The Shores City Council was expected to select Kucyk’s successor in June. A meeting to interview those candidates was slated for 7 p.m. June 8, after the June 10 edition of the Grosse Pointe Times went to press. It wasn’t known at press time whether the person named to fill Kucyk’s seat would serve out the remainder of his term, or face possible election in November.

Shores Election Administrator Tom Krolczyk said that the filing deadline for the council seats is 5 p.m. July 20.

“We will have a primary in both (the) Macomb (County portion of the Shores) and (the) Wayne (County portion) in August,” Krolczyk said via email. “There is a proposal in Macomb and seat for judge in Wayne. We do not hold primaries for local officials.”

Because of the passage of Proposal 3 in 2018, Michigan voters can now register to vote as late as the date of an election, although registering in advance is recommended. For more information about any of the elections or registering to vote, visit each city’s website or mvic.sos.state.mi.us.

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