Wojno wins state Senate seat

Council can appoint new city clerk

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published November 9, 2018


WARREN — Warren City Clerk Paul Wojno is headed back to Lansing, where he served as a state representative from 1997 to 2002, this time as a newly elected member of the Michigan Senate.

Wojno, a Warren Democrat, beat Republican Jeff Bonnell by a 31.8 percent margin in the Nov. 6 election for the 9th District seat, which is being vacated under term limits by Democratic state Sen. Steve Bieda. Wojno took 65,730 votes, or 65.9 percent of the total votes cast, to Bonnell’s 34,012 votes, which amounted to 34.1 percent.

“I was very pleased with the campaign, and we worked hard in the primary,” Wojno said Nov. 7. “I think both campaigns were reflective of how campaigns should be conducted. There was no mudslinging, nothing.”

Bonnell could not be reached for comment by press time.

Wojno said he is excited about the opportunity to serve the 9th District, which includes Center Line, Eastpointe, Fraser, Roseville, Warren and a portion of Clinton Township. He also said he’s ready to work with Michigan’s new governor, Gretchen Whitmer, with whom he served in the state House, to reach across the aisle and work with the Republican majority.

“We’ll have split power, in a sense. She has veto power. They have legislative power. It puts everybody into position where you’re really going to have to work together, as Gretchen would say, to get things done as it relates to fixing our roads, auto insurance reform. I know she is, as well as I am, a big supporter of early education.”

Auto insurance reform is near the top of Wojno’s to-do list heading into his first term in the Senate.

“It’s my family. I mean, five of us in the family, I have three teenage drivers. We’re paying $8,600 a year, which is more than unreasonable — it’s outrageous,” Wojno said. “There’s so many individuals here in the state that are in similar situations, where they’re paying above and beyond what they can afford, and that’s really creating a pool of additional uninsured drivers.”     
He said supporting early education, fixing roads, repealing the “right to work” law and returning prevailing wages are also on his agenda to work on during the coming term.

Wojno will begin orientation programs in Lansing this month, but won’t officially start work in Lansing until he takes office after Jan. 1. Until then, he said he will continue to serve as Warren’s clerk.

After Wojno leaves office, the Warren City Council can appoint an interim clerk to serve the remainder of his term, set to expire in November 2019. He said that according to the city charter, the appointment should be made within 30 days after his resignation. The council can appoint an outsider, or it can pass the duties along to the deputy clerk.  

Warren Deputy Clerk Sonja Djurovic Buffa said Nov. 7 that while she is not interested in running as an elected official for a term of office as clerk, she would serve in that capacity until the election.

“I’m here to help. I’m very passionate about my job,” she said. “I’ve been here for 18 years. I love my job.”

Several officials have rumored interest in running for clerk, including Warren City Councilman Scott Stevens, who filed an affidavit of identity with the city for the clerk’s race and a statement of organization with the county on Aug. 13.

Stevens said he plans to run during the normal election cycle in 2019, knowing that there is precedent in Warren where a deputy clerk took over in the interim during a city election year. It happened in 1999 after Lynn Armstrong resigned as Warren’s elected clerk to take a job with the city of St. Clair Shores.

He said he would be “perfectly confident” in Djurovic Buffa’s ability to handle the job, given her extensive experience.

“As far as qualifications go, there’s no one more qualified than her,” Stevens said.