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Warren voters elect new City Council, keep treasurer and clerk

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published November 8, 2019

 Candidates for city offices and their supporters greet voters at Warren’s Butcher Community Center on Election Day Nov. 5.

Candidates for city offices and their supporters greet voters at Warren’s Butcher Community Center on Election Day Nov. 5.

Photo by Brian Louwers

WARREN — With Warren’s absentee voter totals still unavailable and the results uncertain after midnight on Election Day, no one really knew what the new-look City Council would look like.

But this much was clear beforehand: There were going to be major changes in the look — and potentially the direction — of the council as a result of term limits, court challenges and candidates’ choices to seek other offices.

Pat Green and Angela Rogensues won the race for two Warren City Council at-large seats. Green garnered 27.9% of the vote to finish first and become Warren’s next mayor pro tem, while Rogensues finished second with 25.7%. They defeated Gary Boike (23.5%) and Diane Young (22.9%).

Green was previously elected to the council in 2007 and served two full terms. He was elected to a third, but left office before it was completed to serve in the Michigan House of Representatives.

“I’m very pleased with the outcome. I think the residents spoke very loudly to everyone,” Green said. “We’ve got a really good group to work with on council, from some seasoned individuals who have a history with the city, but also a lot of younger, newer members who can also bring a new perspective to us. I think it’s going to be great for everyone in the city.”

Rogensues was one of just three candidates for the City Council to be heavily endorsed by Warren Mayor Jim Fouts.

“One of the first things I want to do is follow up with all of the residents I talked to who had personal concerns or issues with the city that were impacting their neighborhoods or their homes, and figure out how I can best support them,” Rogensues said. “I think there’s nothing worse than soliciting feedback and then not being responsive.”

In District 1, Ron Papandrea (52.5%), appointed to the council in 2016, was elected for the first time, defeating challenger Melody Magee (47.5%).

“I’d like to thank them (the voters),” Papandrea said. “I mean, it was a fairly close election in my district, but I won and I thank the people who supported me.”

Papandrea will be one of just a few council members returning with experience. He said he’d like to see the city’s downtown district developed at last.

“I want us to have a destination downtown, just like Royal Oak used to have before they filled it all up with apartments, just like Ferndale, like Birmingham,” Papandrea said. “This will really help Warren, really help the property values for Warren.”

In District 2, former Macomb County Commissioner Jonathan Lafferty (57.9%) defeated Richard Paul Sulaka II (42.1%).

“Door knocking was the centerpiece of my campaign, meeting with neighbors each and every day from early April all the way up until the Monday before the election,” Lafferty said. “That was the most important and vital part, and that is what propelled me into office.

“I am beholden to my neighbors, and I am going to answer to their mandate of a pro-neighborhood majority on council. That is what the citizens elected Tuesday night,” Lafferty said.

In District 3, former Councilwoman Mindy Moore (53.4%) defeated Mark Dennings (46.6%). Moore served one term on the Warren City Council from 2003 to 2007 and later ran for mayor. Before serving on the council, she served on the Warren Consolidated Schools Board of Education.

“I am very grateful to the residents of District 3 for electing me to represent them on City Council,” Moore said. “I will work hard to maintain the trust and confidence they have placed in me.”

In District 4, Garry Watts (61.9%) defeated Melvin Login (38.1%).

“I was happy that I had such a good victory,” Watts said, adding that he wants to begin pushing immediately for the city to hire more police officers and develop a more comprehensive road repair plan.

Asked what he’d like to say to his supporters, he offered, “A big thank-you that they put their faith in me and are giving me an opportunity to serve them.”

In District 5, Eddie Kabacinski (53.2%) defeated Jerry T. Bell (46.8%).

“I think the voters spoke,” Kabacinski said. “I think the voters spoke, that they want some proper representation in the south end that they haven’t been getting in the last 12 years.”

At City Hall, incumbent Warren City Treasurer Lorie Barnwell cruised to a landslide win with 80.5% of the vote. Challenger Arnold Simkus garnered 19.5%.

“I’m just so incredibly humbled and honored to have been elected for a second term by the Warren residents, and I just really appreciate all of the ideas that I’ve gotten from Warren residents,” Barnwell said. “That’s what it’s about. It’s about residents giving leaders ideas and leaders carrying out those ideas.”

In the race for Warren city clerk, incumbent Sonja Buffa (57.4 percent) defeated challenger Keith Sadowski (42.6 percent), who is leaving the City Council after serving 16 years.

Buffa was appointed as clerk in January after Paul Wojno left following his election to a seat in the Michigan Senate.

“I feel blessed to have been voted into the position of city clerk,” Buffa said. “I would like to thank the voters for their support, trust and confidence in me. I will continue to work for the good of the city of Warren.”