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Warren council races set with mix of familiar, new names

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published August 7, 2019

 Shutterstock photo

Shutterstock photo

WARREN — One current city councilman, two former council members and a list of newcomers will appear on the ballot in November as voters prepare to select an almost entirely new-look legislative body tasked with managing Warren’s $278 million budget.

The race for two at-large seats on the Warren City Council proved intriguing on election night. Former councilman and state Rep. Pat Green finished on top of a field of six candidates with approval from 25.8% of the voters.

“We had a great team in the family — my wife, Pilar, my children, my brothers — a lot of support from labor, like the UAW, and a lot of support from the residents,” Green said. “We knocked (on) doors, talked to people. It’s the most important part of the campaign.”

The field of five candidates behind him in the at-large race were separated by fewer than 6 percentage points. Three will join him on the November ballot: Angela Rogensues (17.2%), Diane Young (15.8%) and Gary Boike (15.6%). Connor Berdy (14.2%) and Kelli Kalvinski (11.5%) fell just short.

In the Warren City Council’s District 1, Councilman Ron Papandrea — who was appointed to Green’s seat on the council after Green resigned to take office in the Michigan House of Representatives in 2016 — finished first among six candidates with 1,016 votes (33.9%) out of a total of 2,995 votes cast. Papandrea could not be immediately reached for comment.

In November, he’ll face challenger Melody Magee, who garnered 745 votes (24.9%) to finish second in the district.

“What I’ve done is knocking (on) doors in my community, letting them know who I am,” Magee said. “That’s my goal in the future: to put a plan together for what we can accomplish in my district, District 1, whether it’s on the south side or the north side, to make sure we can make the changes the community needs. We need to bring even more opportunities to our community.”

The race for a seat representing District 2 on the Warren City Council featured the closest primary election contest between the two top finishers. Former Macomb County Commissioner Jonathan Lafferty finished first with 1,512 votes (38.2%) of the 3,959 votes cast for the office.

“I ran an aggressive grassroots campaign, completely supported by my family and friends and all of my neighbors,” Lafferty said. “I door-knocked more than 4,000 doors and I told people I would be accountable to them. I sought no endorsements whatsoever. I told them the council needs to be accountable to the citizens of Warren, and not to the administration and City Hall. That is the message that is resonating across the city tonight.”

Close behind Lafferty in District 2 — by a margin of just 62 votes, according to unofficial results — was Richard Paul Sulaka II, who finished with 1,449 votes (36.6%).

“Our message really resonated, specifically our infrastructure needs. Our roads and the flooding are the two biggest issues facing not only Warren, but Macomb County and metro Detroit in general,” Sulaka said. “We need to have a real tangible plan going forward for how we’re going to address that and make those fixes. I think our greatest goal is to get out there and meet the voters and communicate that message.”

In the City Council’s District 3, former Councilwoman Mindy Moore finished far in front of the nearest challenger with 1,508 votes (40.9%) of the 3,683 votes cast for four total candidates. She served on the council from 2003 to 2007.

“I was surprised that after all these years, how many people remembered me and remembered how active I was in creating some of the tools we use to fight blight,” Moore said. “I’m very interested in adopting a new master plan. It includes things the residents talked about wanting. A lot of people expressed that they would like to have a downtown. I think that’s something we should go forward with.”

Mark Dennings finished behind Moore in District 3 with 883 votes (24%).

Council seats representing District 4 and District 5 were uncontested in the primary, but two candidates in each district will appear on the ballot Nov. 5. Voters will choose between Melvin L. Logan and Gary Watts in District 4, and between Jerry T. Bell and Eddie Kabacinski in District 5.

Look for candidate profiles in the weeks to come and individual stories profiling the candidates for all city offices in Warren and Center Line ahead of the November election.