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Ferndale

August 21, 2013

Current, former mayors part of four-candidate Ferndale mayor race

By Joshua Gordon
C & G Staff Writer

Coulter
Covey
Parton
Wells

FERNDALE — This year’s election may be a little tougher for Mayor Dave Coulter than the one he endured in 2011. Coulter won by a landslide two years ago after serving as interim mayor for much of the year.

However, three candidates, including former Ferndale mayor Craig Covey, will oppose Coulter during the Nov. 5 election. Ferndale residents Sherry Wells and Linda Parton also are running for mayor.

“This race isn’t about the individual candidates running as much as the future direction of Ferndale and how we keep moving forward,” Coulter said. “Regardless of who the opponent is, we need to be focused on the campaign and on how to make a better Ferndale for everyone.”

Coulter was an Oakland County Commissioner for eight years before stepping in as interim mayor in 2011 after then-mayor Covey was elected as an Oakland County Commissioner. Over the past two years, Coulter said he is most proud about the business council he created, as well as the Blue Ribbon Commission on Ferndale Parks.

“I am really excited about the progress we have made in terms of creating jobs, increasing (the) tax base and improving our neighborhoods,” Coulter said. “You could call me more of a nuts-and-bolts mayor, digging deep on issues to make the operations of the city more effective. I brought together the CEOs of the largest businesses in Ferndale to work on growing jobs here and making Ferndale a more friendly place to do business.

“I think what I bring as a candidate is somebody who doesn’t look at the issues from right or left, but how to move forward.”

Covey was mayor for three years in Ferndale before spending two years as county commissioner. Before becoming mayor, Covey was also on City Council for eight years.

Like Coulter, Covey said he is not running against him, but rather running on the issues he feels are important.

“I never run against anyone; I always run on the issues that are important to me,” Covey said. “There are four candidates and I really like the robust discussion we can have during debates, and I think that is really what is important in an election. My overall goal is to keep Ferndale affordable while conveying fun and cutting edge.”

Covey said operating budgets would be one of the biggest priorities on his list if he were to be elected, as would be taking a look at the city’s water rates in comparison with neighboring communities.

One of the biggest issues pushing Covey to run again, however, was the newly implemented parking system in downtown Ferndale. With the problems that have arisen for residents and businesses, Covey said he would take a long, hard look at other possibilities.

“I first had the inkling of running again after the parking system was installed and it was a pretty major problem across the city,” he said. “It was like watching a slow-motion disaster and I just think it was poorly rolled out and a bad decision in the beginning. I don’t pretend to have all the answers now, but I think the people deserve someone to take full responsibility and explore ways of fixing the problem.”

Linda Parton, a 23-year resident of Ferndale, said part of her push to run for mayor was also based on the current downtown parking system. Parton has had several children go through the Ferndale school system and has served on the Ferndale Elementary Parent-Teacher Association.

Parton said she wanted to provide residents with options when voting and feels she has some good ideas for current problems in the city.

“When I was filling out my petitions, I found that all the residents hate the new metering system,” Parton said. “And it is not just them, but the business people, too; they all get in complaints. The system is meant for a bigger metro area where people are gone for longer amounts of time.

“My idea would be to find another community to buy the system off us at a reduced price and go back to meters, but ones that accept cards to make Ferndale residents and visitors happy.”

Sherry Wells has been thoroughly involved with the community for 18 years since serving on the Ferndale City Charter Revision Commission in 1995. Over the past four years, Wells said she has been to all but two City Council meetings and every Downtown Development Authority meeting.

Wells said the mayor should be the face of the community, and having been an attorney and volunteer in Ferndale since 1988, she thinks she already has that down. Combined with her three-pronged approach of residents, government and business, she feels she can lead Ferndale in the right direction.

“I see the mayor as the leader, the general at the front lines with the troops, and I appreciate anyone who puts themselves out there and runs for office,” Wells said. “It’s not me, it’s we. I want to lead the part of looking into a more cohesive city. There needs to be a whole lot more communication between the residents, the government and the businesses.

“I’m not running against the current mayor; I’m running for the job, and it opens up every two years.”