Theokas succeeds Heenan as Park mayor

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published April 8, 2015

 As City Manager Dale Krajniak confers with City Attorney Dennis Levasseur in the foreground, City Clerk Jane Blahut administers the oath of office to new Mayor Pro Tem Robert Denner, with new Mayor Gregory Theokas, seated in the center, looking on.

As City Manager Dale Krajniak confers with City Attorney Dennis Levasseur in the foreground, City Clerk Jane Blahut administers the oath of office to new Mayor Pro Tem Robert Denner, with new Mayor Gregory Theokas, seated in the center, looking on.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

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GROSSE POINTE PARK — When the Grosse Pointe Park City Council meets for the next time this month — at 7 p.m. either April 13 or 27 — there will be a new mayor chairing the meeting.


As city leaders bid farewell to Mayor Palmer Heenan, who officially retired as of the March 23 council meeting after nearly 32 years of running the city, they also needed to select Heenan’s successor, at least until the next City Council election in November, when Heenan’s current term would have expired.


The person that the council selected to fill Heenan’s seat is no stranger to chairing a meeting, having already done it a number of times over the years when Heenan was unavailable. City Councilman Robert Denner nominated Mayor Pro Tem Gregory Theokas to become the new mayor for now, and the rest of the council agreed, voting unanimously in favor of Theokas on March 23.


“It’d be my honor to second that motion,” City Councilman James Robson said. “Greg, you’re obviously the logical choice to succeed Mayor Heenan. You’ve been mayor pro tem for the last 12 years. You’ve done a great job in (Heenan’s) absence. … You have a great grasp of the issues. You listen to everyone. … You are fair and you’re honest.”


In his retirement letter to the council, Heenan supported appointing Theokas to succeed him for the balance of Heenan’s term.


City Councilman Daniel Clark said that, along with Heenan, Theokas was instrumental in keeping Defer Elementary School open in the Park at a time when the Grosse Pointe Public School System Board of Education was mulling the prospect of closing it.


“The community … owes you a huge debt of gratitude,” Clark told Theokas. Clark said Theokas and other community activists fought successfully to maintain Defer “at a time when confidence in the community was not rising” circa the late 1970s.


Theokas said Heenan was instrumental, as well, in this effort to protect the local school, which remains open to this day.


“Mayor Heenan has always been part and parcel of these efforts to preserve the things that are near and dear to the community,” he said.


Theokas thanked the council and residents “for the confidence they’ve shown” in him.


“I will make every effort to effect a smooth transition so we will continue to provide the excellent services Grosse Pointe Park residents expect,” he said.


With Theokas’ ascension to mayor, that left a vacancy in the mayor pro tem seat, and Theokas promptly nominated Denner — who has served on the council for the last 12 years — to fill that role. Theokas said his colleague has been president of the city’s nonprofit Grosse Pointe Park Foundation and served on the council’s Ordinance Review Committee, among other leadership positions.


“He’s been a stable and reasoned voice during all of these years,” Theokas said of Denner. “We really are going to be well-served by having him as mayor pro tem.”


With Clark seconding Theokas’ motion, the council voted unanimously in favor of naming Denner as the new mayor pro tem.


“I hope I can live up to the high standards (you’ve set),” Denner told Theokas after thanking the council for the vote. “You’ve blazed quite a path.”


It was not known at press time who might be running for the mayoral seat in November. City Clerk Jane Blahut said candidates have until April 21 to file petitions to run. The mayor serves a two-year, unpaid term.

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