Warren City Council candidates prep for the November election

By: Gena Johnson | Warren Weekly | Published August 18, 2023

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


WARREN — The Warren City Council candidates that made it past the Aug. 8 primary have shared their thoughts about winning and what is next for them as they prepare for the November election.

Warren City Council District 1 will make history in November by electing the first Black City Council member. Melody Magee came in first with 953 votes which was nearly 25% of the votes cast in the primary. Charles Perry followed with 757 votes (19.7%).  Both candidates are African American.

Magee is excited about this new era in Warren.

“It means that Warren is ready for a change. Warren is recognizing that we do need diversity in our political leadership at our City Hall,” said Magee.

Magee said she has received calls about the election from national media outlets, local and national politicians, former and current Warren residents, and friends and family members.

“Everybody is excited. I received calls from California, Ohio, Washington, D.C. They are saying, ‘Melody, we are watching. We want this for you.’ But we want to make history because of things that we have experienced, especially as Black people, coming across Eight Mile (Road into Warren) and some (false) things that were done,” Magee said. “They (Warren voters) want the change. They believe we should have people that look like us in Warren City Hall. So, I am very excited about it.”

About the primary, Perry said, “It’s an honor to be able to win the primary and have the citizens of Warren vote for me. I’m looking forward to going further and becoming (a) city councilman and working for the city of Warren, the people of District 1 and all of Warren.”

At the top of Perry’s list if elected is restoring Social Security benefits to Warren’s police and fire departments. 

“I am totally in support of the police and fire departments, specifically, to bring back their health care because they don’t have Social Security. All they have is a pension, and it would take away from their families.”

District 1 was the only council race with a primary candidate not endorsed by Warren Mayor James Fouts, and it is also the only district where an incumbent is not running. Councilman Ron Papandrea currently holds the seat and is not seeking reelection.

District 2 was the only City Council race where an incumbent received the most votes. Jonathan Lafferty, the current councilman in District 2, received 1,136 votes, or 26.3% of the votes cast.

“I am extremely pleased that my neighbors entrust me to continue representing them on the Warren City Council,” said Lafferty in a written statement. “This campaign will be about the difference between electing a rubber-stamp authority or an independent, accountable council, responsible only to the people that elected them.”

Lafferty added, “Voters made their vision abundantly clear yesterday (Aug. 8) that Warren’s next mayor and council shall serve in the shadow of outgoing Mayor Jim Fouts. I intend to serve as the check and balance to that vision.”

Adam Sawka, who is endorsed by the mayor, came in second with 1,120 votes, or 25.9% of the votes cast.

“The residents of Warren are tired of the City Council. They are tired of the antics. They are tired of the toxic environment,” Sawka said. “They want a new slate. I look forward to the November election.”

Sawka said he is hopeful.

“We’ve (my family and I) met so many kind people in Warren. It gives us hope in the city, hope that there are better things to come,” said Sawka.  “Hopefully, when I’m elected there will be better things to come.”

According to Sawka, residents want to see Warren move forward.

“They want to see progress. They’re sick of the stalemate,” said Sawka.

The primary race in District 3 was led by Warren police officer Daniel Bozek with 1,681 votes (46.1%). The district’s incumbent, Warren City Council Secretary Mindy Moore, was second with 1,518 votes (41.6%).

Bozek was also endorsed by the mayor and commented about winning the primary.

“It means that the city is taking the step in the right direction, that I have been knocking doors with the residents in District 3,” Bozek said.

Bozek took a pragmatic view and did not address what he would do if elected.

“We’re kind of in halftime of a tough game,” Bozek said. “I have a lot of work to do to get through November. I believe they (voters in District 3) want their voices heard. They want representation for them (Warren residents), and I plan on providing that to them.”

Bozek talked about his career in law enforcement and public service.

“I’ve been a police officer for the city of Warren for 27 years. I have been in law enforcement for 30 years and serving the public. I hope to continue to do that in November, just in a different role.”

According to Bozek, per the city charter, if elected to council he would resign from the Warren Police Department and serve full time as a councilman.

Moore, if reelected, looks forward to working collaboratively with the new administration.

“I am certainly looking forward to working collaboratively with a new mayor. I am sure the relationship will be better than we’ve had in the past,” Moore said. “I will continue to operate under the charter and listen to residents’ concerns and try to push their needs to the administration and try to get action.”

Moore reflected on things that need to be done.

“We have a lot of things to take care of. We have to maintain our police levels. There has been no progress in the fire stations, skate park and the Nine Mile (Road) library,” said Moore.

Moore was among the incumbents who received less votes than the newcomer entering the race. She addressed some of the possible reasons for that.

“It was disappointing, but the primary is always a low turnout and this one was abysmal,” Moore said. “The Warren Weekly published most of the attacks against the incumbent council members. That could have been damaging. There were a lot of lies printed about us. I just plan on continuing to walk door to door having a positive message.”

District 4 was one of the smaller races with three candidates. Gary Boike, who ran for an at-large seat in 2019 and came in third, received the most votes in the 2023 primary for District 4 with 1,526 votes (46.9%). Incumbent Garry Watts came in second with 1,068 votes (32.8%), and Seng Xiong finished third with 662 votes (20.3%).

“I am overwhelmed with the support I received,” said Boike. “The primary is not the finals. Anything can happen in the finals.”

Boike said he plans to continue working to connect with voters.

“I am going to continue working hard out there — knocking on doors, telling the people what my vision is, and hopefully have a win in November,” Boike said.

If elected, he would like to see an updated city charter.

“I would like to get a charter commission,” said Boike. “Our charter is old. The language can be interpreted many ways. We need a charter that is concise and accurate, and this prevents unnecessary lawsuits,” Boike said.

If reelected, Watts said he would continue to fight for the citizens of Warren.

“I have given it my all in my last four years to fight the problems coming from City Hall. I will continue that fight,” said Watts.

Asked what he would do differently, Watts said, “If the administration wants to work together, I am happy to work together. In the past, they (members of the administration) haven’t wanted to. I feel I’ve done everything as close to right as I can do it.”

Watts said he had questions about the election but accepted the results.

“It was the smallest turnout of percentage of voters in the city of Warren ever,” Watts said. “I questioned the vote count. I questioned some absentees. It may not have affected my district but when you look at the numbers in all the different precincts, I had questions.”

Watts said he is ready to move on from the primary.

“The election is over with. It’s time to move on. I think it’s OK that people have questions. I’m not an election denier by any means,” Watts said.

Henry Newnan led the race in District 5 with 856 votes (31.1%). Britani Tringali came in second with 750 votes (27.3%).

Newnan said what winning the race meant to him.

“It means to me that I have the confidence of a great many of Warren City Council District 5 voters,” Newnan said. “I look forward to earning the trust of the rest, whether they vote for me or not in the general election. I plan on serving everyone in District 5.”

Newnan continued as to what voters want from him.

“Voters want to see each city councilor work to keep the budget of the city balanced, better roads, prompt action taken with rotting trees to protect the safety and property of residents,” Newnan said. “In addition, they would like to see an ombudsperson for seniors and veterans to connect with the services already available.”

Newnan said he will advocate for his district while working with the council and the new mayor.

Tringali also said what the results meant to her.

“It means that voters have decided to vote for me, and they stand behind what I believe in,” Tringali said.

“They (the voters) want me to do what is best for the city, which is to continue to provide funding to police and fire to keep the city safe; to advocate for the downtown development, free of cost to the citizens; and parks and recreation — Halmich Park, the bathrooms need to be updated. The soccer fields, the cricket fields, there’s all kinds of opportunities with that,” Tringali said.

Tringali said she will help bring these issues to fruition by voting for and lobbying for change when the proposals are on the table.

The top four vote-getters in the primary for Warren’s two at-large City Council seats will move forward to the general election.

Leading the charge was Dave Dwyer, who came in first and received 5,581 votes (17.0%). Donna Kaczor Caumartin was second with 5,294 votes (16.2%). Incumbent Councilwoman Angela Rogensues finished third with 4,869 votes (14.9%) and Marie C. Adkins finished fourth with 3,227 votes (9.9%).

“Being new into politics in Warren, my hopes were to get into the final four,” said Dwyer. “For me to finish No. 1 was just a surprise and just awesome. I was just elated.”

Dwyer said he would like to see up-to-date public safety.

“I think we have to protect our public safety, both police and fire, keep them state-of-the-art with their equipment and computers,” Dwyer said.

If elected, Dwyer would make smart grid technology a top priority.

“DTE is launching a $5 billion project in Michigan for smart grids, which earmarks power from areas that have power to areas that have outages. That is something I would like to get right at the top of my priority list,” Dwyer said.

Caumartin described what the victory in the primary meant to her.

“This victory means to me that the people are definitely showing they want professionalism. They want the fighting to stop,” said Caumartin. “And they’re showing the direction that they want Warren to move forward.”

If elected, Caumartin said how she would bring that to fruition.

“As a realtor for more than 30 years and on the planning commission for 11 (years), I have the experience to know what affects our property values, what are good developments, and bond ratings as it compares to other cities,” said Caumartin.

Part of Caumartin’s plan to move Warren forward is communication.

“Open-ended communication between the residents and council, I think that’s vitally important,” said Caumartin. “My communications that I have between the county and the state, I think that will add wonders to our growth and be able to use some grant money for our parks and keep us moving forward.”

Rogensues said she will work to “win over residents.”

“I feel honored that the voters elected me to move on to the general and have enough trust and faith to see me eventually be reelected,” Rogensues said. “I will continue to work on winning the hearts and minds of the residents here and demonstrate my track record of success over the past four years. I will continue to combat a lot of the negative narrative that the mayor and his team created in the ecosystem about who I am as a city councilperson and who I am as a person.”

Rogensues shared what she would do if reelected.

“I will continue to be an independent voice on council and do my best to bring resources to the challenges that residents communicate are issues,” she said.

According to Rogensues, residents want a variety of things to move Warren forward, and what those things are depends upon who is asked. Among the issues of concern are economic development and new businesses coming to the city without taxes going up. She said residents want lower taxes and continued city services, better parks and attention to blighted areas.

Adkins, a registered nurse who said she is new to politics, is excited about going to the general election.

“It really means a lot. I think a lot of people were not expecting me to make it in the primary considering I’m new and this is my first time running,” Adkins said.  “The Warren neighbors that I talked to (said) that I really resonated with them.”

Adkins addressed how she will prepare for the election on Nov. 7.

“I am going to work twice as hard,” Adkins said. “I just really need to work on getting more people to get out there and vote because the turnout for last Tuesday (for the primary) was really disappointing to say the least.”

The polls opened at 7 a.m. for the Aug. 8 primary. According to one election official, at around 5:15 p.m. on Election Day, 115 people had voted at their precinct out of nearly 2,200 registered voters.

For more information about registering to vote, visit mvic.sos.state.mi.us/RegisterVoter/Index

For a complete list of the results for the Warren 2023 primary visit electionresults.macombgov.org/m39/results.html

Call Staff Writer Gena Johnson at (586) 498-1069.