Ferndale mayor appointed new Oakland County executive after party-line vote

Decision follows weeks of partisan battles

FERNDALE, Mich. – After weeks of partisan battles Oakland County has a new leader.

Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter has been appointed the new Oakland County executive. The Oakland County Board of Commissioners voted along party lines, 11-10. That vote came after a rocky day that even had a judge getting involved.

Coulter has spent the last nine years as Ferndale's mayor. He's 59 years old and is a Democrat. Coulter will have to resign as Ferndale mayor before being sworn in as Oakland County executive. He is expected to do so Monday at a special meeting.

The previous executive, L. Brooks Patterson, was elected in 1992. Before then, he served as Oakland County orosecutor for 16 years. He was reelected to a seventh term in 2012.

Patterson died Aug. 3 at his Independence Township home surrounded by family and friends after a battle with pancreatic cancer. 

Democrat Dave Woodward had resigned from the commission just days ago, expecting to be nominated for executive. When he realized he wouldn't have enough votes, he rescinded his resignation. During Friday's meeting, a motion to remove Woodward was denied.

"He then realizes he doesn't have the votes. So then he wants his commission seat back and he votes for Dave Coulter," said Rocky Raczkowski, chair of the Oakland County Republican Party.

Republicans did not want to accept Woodward’s letter of resignation when it was read out loud, saying the separation agreement was signed. That motion failed, as well.

As for Coulter leaving Ferndale:

"Mayor Coulter has been a tremendous leader and friend of Ferndale for 10 years," said Joseph Gacioch, Ferndale city manager. "While we hate to lose him a few months earlier than planned, we have processes in place specifically for situations like this and we will lean on them, as well as the strong direction and leadership of our City Council, to move forward successfully."

A special meeting is set for Monday morning at the Ferndale City Council chambers.

What's next for Ferndale?

What's next for Ferndale after mayor is appointed Oakland County executive?
What's next for Ferndale after mayor is appointed Oakland County executive?

About the Authors:

Priya joined WDIV-Local 4 in 2013 as a reporter and fill-in anchor. Education: B.A. in Communications/Post Grad in Advanced Journalism

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.