He’s controversial and he’s gonna be back for another four years.
Warren Mayor Jim Fouts won re-election to a four-year term as mayor in the state’s third-largest city, beating opponent City Councilwoman Kelly Colegio, according to unofficial election results early Wednesday.
Fouts, 77, trailed Colegio in incomplete voting results late Tuesday, but absentee voter totals were unavailable. He won thanks to absentee voters — just as he did in the primary election.
Fouts received 57.5% of the vote, with Colegio pulling in 42.5%, according to unofficial totals on the Macomb County Election Department website.
Nearly 60% of Fouts’ votes came from absentee voters, though Colegio pulled in slightly more Election Day votes at the polls, according to the results.
Colegio, 51, a former assistant to Fouts, managing his office when he was first elected, has been on council for eight years.
She ran, she said, because she was “concerned with the direction the city is going in as far as economic growth, some crime issues and hateful rhetoric we’ve heard in the news — things the mayor has allegedly said.” She said she felt the city needed an elected official “who can represent everybody.”
Colegio previously told the Free Press that she believed low voter turnout was the reason for Fouts’ re-election in the past. She said the city has about 88,000 registered voters.
Just under 17,000 people voted for the vast mayoral field in the August primary, while about 24,000 voted for mayor in Tuesday’s election.
Warren mayor Jim Fouts delivers the annual State of the City address at Andiamo in Warren, Wednesday, June 5, 2019. (Photo: Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press)
The longtime mayor has been in politics for decades in the city and has faced his share of controversies through the years.
Just a few weeks before the election, Fouts defended himself — again — after a video was posted online purportedly of his voice saying he wanted to shoot in the head a former chief of staff and friend, who died in May.
This was the latest in a string of recordings through the years purportedly of Fouts denigrating various groups of people. Fouts has repeatedly said the tapes have been manufactured and called the most recent one “a last-minute, politically motivated gimmick.
Even the UAW took a swipe at Fouts when Region 1 Director Frank Stuglin sent a recent letter to union members saying that Fouts “did nothing to show support for workers on strike” against General Motors, and that UAW Region 1 would not support him in his re-election bid.
Despite the hits, Fouts won another term in office, according to the unofficial results. A term that is allowed after voters in 2016 approved extending the term limit for the office of mayor from three, four-year terms in office or 12 years to five, four-year terms or 20 years.
Fouts told the Free Press that he sought re-election, in part, to complete a new downtown project around city hall and a detention basin to reduce basement and street flooding, and to see library and recreation departments offer new programs for the growing senior population.
“The most important issues facing Warren (are) to continue the momentum of improving neighborhood roads, fighting blight and crime, and bringing new jobs to our city,” he said. “The next issue that we will face is to control expenditures like overtime costs so city taxes will not have to be raised. This means tight spending control that will need the cooperation of all city employees, city administrators and city council members.”
That will include a new city council after the majority of the current seven-member council seats are turning over.
That’s in part because of a Michigan Supreme Court ruling in June that stated four veteran city councilman’s names were to be off the primary ballot in council races after a term limit question was raised in a lawsuit. Two other veteran council members, including Colegio and Councilman Keith Sadowski, sought election to other city offices.
Sadowski lost the clerk’s race to Clerk Sonja Buffa, who was appointed clerk earlier this year. Incumbent Treasurer Lorie Barnwell was re-elected.
On city council, Patrick Green and Angela Rogensues were elected to at-large seats, per the unofficial results. They indicate that City Councilman Ron Papendrea, Jonathan Lafferty, Mindy Moore, Garry Watts and Eddie Kabacinski won district seats.
On his Facebook page Tuesday, Fouts posted to vote for Buffa for clerk and Rogensues and Papendrea for council, among other city council candidates who did not win.
“It is critical that we have a supportive city council and if we don’t get 4 elected it will be very difficult to complete important projects that we have started,” he wrote in the post. “So PLEASE vote for the above candidates.”
In the Eastpointe mayor race, Monique Owens was the top vote getter, according to unofficial results with all precincts reporting. She had 1,648 votes with Michael Klinefelt coming in second with 1,629 votes, according to the unofficial results. The winner replaces Mayor Suzanne Pixley, who is retiring.
Voters for the city council race used a new method of voting for council after the city earlier this year settled a 2017 voting rights lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice. It used a ranked choice voting method to rank candidates in order of preference.
A message on the Macomb County election site, stated that unofficial results for the race would not be available on election night because of the round-by-round tabulation required. Unofficial results are to be posted Wednesday.
Eastpointe voters also rejected amending the city charter to eliminate the requirement that applicants for the position of city manager have at least one year experience as a manager or assistant manager in some city or village.
In Mount Clemens, longtime Mayor Barb Dempsey was ousted from office by challenger Laura Kropp, who won with nearly 50 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results. Dempsey was first elected mayor in 2005, according to the city website.
In Sterling Heights, all six incumbent city council members were re-elected, according to unofficial results. Voters also said yes to renewing a slightly-reduced millage for police, fire and streets that was first approved in 2013.
Roseville voters said yes to amending their city charter to exclude police officers and firefighters from the city’s general retirement system and to become members of a separate retirement system allowed under state law.
Washington Township voters overwhelmingly rejected a request to renew and increase a parks and recreation millage for 20 years. The money would have gone to acquire and improve Total Sports Park and turn it into a recreation and community center.