Mayor Lori Stone was sworn in by 37th District Court Judge Steven Bieda.

Mayor Lori Stone was sworn in by 37th District Court Judge Steven Bieda.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Supporters crowd city hall to welcome Warren Mayor Lori Stone

By: Gena Johnson | Warren Weekly | Published December 1, 2023

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WARREN — Mayor Lori Stone’s ceremonial swearing-in on Nov. 20 was a joyous, celebratory event where people gathered to support Warren’s new mayor.

Excitement filled the air at City Hall, along with a palpable energy that could not be ignored, as people were seen throughout the room greeting each other with hugs, kisses, handshakes and smiles.

Judge Steven Bieda of the 37th District Court officiated the ceremony. The official swearing-in was done earlier that day in the city clerk’s office.

“There was a lot of positive energy in and around City Hall,” said former Warren City Councilman Garry Watts, who represented District 4 from 2019 to 2023.

“It was extremely positive in there,” Watts said. “I couldn’t believe it.”

It was standing room only in the first-floor conference room. Supporters, colleagues, former and current City Council members, appointees from the previous administration — including Warren Police Commissioner William Dwyer and Warren Fire Commissioner Wilburt “Skip” McAdams — as well as Stone’s family and friends were in attendance.

The crowd reflected diversity, and there were people of all ages present.

The crowd erupted in applause when Warren’s first woman mayor entered the room.

“I’ve never seen so many people in here,” said Wesley Arnold, a longtime city historian.

The ceremony began with the Pledge of Allegiance, led by the new mayor’s niece and nephew, Josefine Linares, 8, and Thomas Linares, 6.

“It’s a new day. It’s a fresh breath. I think moving forward, we’re going to get a lot of things done. I have a lot of faith in Lori Stone,” Watts said. “I think she is going to surround herself with great people.”

Stone thanked all in attendance.

“I look around this room and see my village, my first teachers, my dad, who taught me the power of my voice and the courage to stand up for what I believe, and gave me the gift of unconditional love,” Stone said.

Professional colleagues, personal friends and protective family members gave the audience personal insights about the mayor. Stone’s “village” spoke.

Before entering politics, Stone was an educator for more than 14 years in the Fitzgerald Public Schools district. Rhonda Hawe, who served as the event’s emcee and is a member of the Stone transition team, worked with Stone as a fellow fourth-grade teacher at Mound Park Elementary. Hawe shared what Stone would often say.

“If you don’t like the way things are, then find a way to change it,” said Hawe. “That’s what she’s (Stone) doing.”

Hawe said when she is challenged about what to do, she often thinks, “What would Lori do? And that is make a list and prioritize it, and just start at the top.”

George Chapp, an executive board member and the committee chair of the Michigan Psychological Association, said, “Lori is a doer, a fighter and an empath.”

A few of the mayor’s relatives also spoke.

“Lori’s mother was my sister and best friend until she died when Lori was 16. From that time, I felt like I was Lori’s surrogate mother,” said Anne Hill.

“I was always a little nervous when she (Stone) said she was going to run for office because I know how brutal campaigns can be,” said Hill, who is Stone’s aunt and godmother. “But I saw her rise above that and run a positive campaign.”

“It takes a village, and we are Lori’s village,” said Tina Bray, Stone’s aunt. “After the primary we were told Lori wouldn’t win. She wasn’t well known. She didn’t have enough money and financial backing. People said she wouldn’t win if she ran a clean campaign. She would have to play dirty. But that wasn’t Lori.”

Everyone who spoke talked about Stone’s honesty, inclusion, energy and ability to listen to different points of view.

“What you’ve got is someone who you don’t have to watch the till,” said Bill Mauro, Stone’s uncle. “She’s the most honest person I know.

“For many years, we would discuss politics and I had a little different point of view, but we were always able to talk, work it out. She’s always listened to my point of view. I’d listen to hers and that’s a rare thing today,” Mauro said. “I pretty much assure you that anybody can come in and express any opinion and they’re not going to get tossed out. They’re not going to have the police arrest them. She will listen.”

Stone spoke of her focus to make Warren a better place to live, work and play, and in doing that, finding common ground among people.

“For the third largest city in the state, we can do better,” said Joel Rutherford, chair of the Official Democratic Black Caucus of Macomb County. “Lori Stone in charge as mayor, we will do better.”