Wave of absentee votes carries Fouts to fourth term

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


WARREN — Voters waited past midnight for absentee ballots to be tallied in Warren. In the end, those votes told the story, pushing Mayor Jim Fouts to a historic fourth term.

Results from 12,410 absentee ballots were finally uploaded at 1:02 a.m. Nov. 6, propelling Fouts past Councilwoman Kelly Colegio, who bested the incumbent mayor by 403 votes and won more individual precincts on Election Day. The unofficial totals showed Fouts with 13,775 votes (57.5%) to Colegio’s 10,191 (42.5%).

“As many of you know, I’m an admirer of President Harry S. Truman, and now I can relate to another famous situation in his 1948 election night victory with Harry holding up a copy of the Chicago Daily Tribune,” Fouts said in a Facebook post early Nov. 6, in which he also shared the Truman photo and a screenshot of an online local media report declaring his defeat. “Now a new example of the same situation.”

Fouts later added, “I guess rumors of my impending demise were greatly exaggerated.”

In August 2016, 52.7% of Warren’s voters who took part in a sleepy primary election approved giving the city’s mayors an opportunity to seek up to five four-year terms of office. That’s a departure from the three-term/12-year limit for all city elected officials set by voters in 1998. Warren’s clerk, treasurer and City Council members are still bound by that limit.

Fouts was elected mayor in 2007 after serving 26 years on the council.  

“I’m very appreciative,” Fouts said. “There’s a thing called voter fatigue with whoever is in office for a number of years. I feel pretty good considering this is my fourth term.”

Fouts would become the longest-serving mayor in Warren history if he completes the term, surpassing former Mayor Ted Bates, who served for 14 years from 1967-1981 prior to the imposition of term limits.

Over the months to come, Fouts said he will continue to focus on the city’s massive detention basin project, which he said is a proactive step to alleviate the potential for basement flooding during heavy rains. He also wants to forge ahead with a high-profile, mixed-use development in the Civic Center, near 12 Mile Road and Van Dyke Avenue, across from the General Motors Technical Center.

He also said he plans to reach out to each of the city’s newly elected council members.

“My goal will be to get a majority of the council to work with me and make Warren a place people want to go,” Fouts said. “I have to put aside concerns and differences for the betterment of the citizens.”

Colegio worked in the Mayor’s Office before she was elected to the City Council eight years ago. In 2015, she became Warren’s mayor pro tem when she finished as the highest vote-getter in the at-large City Council race.

“I’m just going to take a little time here, spend some time with my family,” she said Nov. 7. “I’d like to thank the voters who did come out and vote for me. Our effort to try and get more people involved in the local election, especially in the southern part of the city, appeared to be successful.

“We saw an uptick in voting across the southern sections of our city. I’m very proud of that,” Colegio said.