Stevens announces mayoral write-in campaign

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published June 27, 2019

 Scott Stevens

Scott Stevens

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WARREN — The courts have declared Scott Stevens ineligible to run for City Council, along with three other longtime incumbents. But while the deadline to file to run for election to other city offices has long passed, Stevens is now eyeing a write-in campaign for mayor.

“I believe the current administration is falling way short,” Stevens said June 26. “They’re out of control. They’re not responsive to the needs and wants of the citizens of Warren and they’re motivated by things that they shouldn’t be motivated by, instead of the satisfaction of the general populace.”

Stevens made the announcement June 25, on the day of the Warren City Council’s second regular meeting of the month. He served three four-year terms representing the city at large on the council, including one term prior to 2011, when the last city charter change cut the size of the council from nine to seven members and set up a collection of five district seats and two at-large positions.

He said he ran for council this year because the courts permitted candidates to do so in 2015 despite term limits, based on a previous interpretation of a former city attorney’s opinion that the charter amendment, approved by voters in 2010, created a “bicameral legislature” of district and at-large council seats, with each type being a separate and distinct office and each being subject to a separate limit of three four-year terms.

That interpretation was shot down by the state courts this year, which ruled that council members, regardless of whether they’re serving at large or in a district, are subject to a limit of three four-year terms, or 12 years in office.

“I’ve always believed that,” Stevens said. “I always thought that was the right way and the right interpretation of that, but there was a court case that said otherwise; a city attorney opinion and a court case that said otherwise. So I felt it was my right to file (to run for election) for a district (City Council seat).”

While his name won’t officially appear on the ballot, Stevens said there is precedent locally for successful write-in campaigns, including Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s bid in 2013.

He said he was mulling a write-in run, praying about it, and that he actually opened a fortune cookie that mentioned overcoming adversity when Warren Mayor Jim Fouts called him and told him he’d heard from an anonymous source that he was contemplating it.

“Actually I was leaning toward not (running) at the time. When he called me and confirmed what I believed I was being told, I said yes,” Stevens said.

Fouts commented that Stevens is “free to run.”

“The water is warm. Everyone is free to get in,” the mayor said. “We can all be in the pool together.”

Stevens now joins a field of eight challengers running in the Aug. 6 primary, looking to unseat Fouts. The mayor won election in 2007 when he defeated former City Clerk and Councilman Richard Sulaka by a margin of 62% to 38% of the vote. Fouts handily won reelection in 2011, defeating former City Council member Kathy Vogt by a margin of nearly 81% to 19%. In 2015, he defeated Karen Spranger by a spread of almost 85% to 15%.

In 2016, a slight majority of Warren voters approved yet another charter amendment that extended term limits for the office of mayor only from three four-year terms to five four-year terms. All other city offices were unaffected by the change.  

A review of the unofficial results from August 2016 showed a marked difference between absentee voters and those who actually cast ballots at the polls. A total of 4,460 absentee voters supported the mayoral term limits extension, while 2,507 voted against it. Among those who voted on Election Day, 3,361 voted to extend, and 4,508 voted not to.

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