Voters reject open stores ordinance, cannabis licensing charter amendment, elect 4 to Rochester City Council

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published November 20, 2023


ROCHESTER — On Nov. 7, Rochester voters rejected two ballot proposals relating to the sale of cannabis in the city.

The first proposal asked voters if an ordinance should be passed to allow three adult-use cannabis retail establishments to operate within the city of Rochester, which failed with a majority of 4,129 votes against the measure to 498 votes in favor.

The second proposal asked voters if a cannabis licensing charter amendment should be passed to establish an application process, selection criteria, licenses, fees and regulations for three adult-use retail cannabis establishments in the city. That proposal also failed, with 4,039 votes against to 583 in favor.

Rochester Mayor Stuart Bikson said the voters of Rochester decisively voted down having marijuana dispensaries in downtown Rochester, noting that the proposals were defeated 89% on one and 87% on the other.

“Rochester rose up and said no to marijuana dispensaries in our city, no to outside business interests telling us how to live, and no to deceptive and cynical advertising. We said yes to the people running our great city. We said yes to the people maintaining our family oriented downtown and to local control of our government,” Bikson said.

Council, Bikson explained, plans to ask administrators and the city attorney to provide an after-election action plan to see what the city can do, if anything, related to this issue in case it comes up again in the future.

“I believe people do not want marijuana dispensaries in our downtown,” Bikson said.

Bikson thanked the people of Rochester who voted down the proposal and the hundreds of volunteers who worked to inform the public and get out the vote.

“It was a job well done, and we won this one,” he said.

“We’re grateful that Rochester voters saw through the smokescreen and voted accordingly,” Rochester Downtown Development Authority Chair Ben Giovanelli said in a statement.

In the Rochester City Council race, voters reelected incumbents Marilyn Trent and Douglas Gould, along with newcomers Debbie Jones and J. Christian Hauser to four-year terms.

According to unofficial results from the Oakland County Elections Division, Trent led the field with 2,492 votes, followed by Gould with 2,350 votes, Jones with 2,275 and Hauser with 2,120, outpacing incumbent Ann Peterson with 2,083 votes and newcomer David Berletich with 1,267 votes.

The council meets on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at City Hall, and members earn $55 per meeting.

For more information about Oakland County elections, visit