Warren council fight reaches federal court

Robert Snell
The Detroit News
Warren residents have filed a federal lawsuit to reinstate four City Council members who were removed from the August primary ballot.

Warren residents have filed a federal lawsuit to reinstate four City Council members who have exceeded term limits and were removed from the August primary ballot.

The lawsuit threatens to overturn a June 11 state Supreme Court ruling that removed a majority of the seven-member council: Scott Stevens, Steven Warner, Robert Boccomino and council president Cecil St. Pierre. That ruling means after the general election in November, the council could be virtually new, with only one incumbent eligible to seek re-election and two council members running for mayor and city clerk.

Four residents aligned with the candidates filed the lawsuit Saturday against Warren City Clerk Sonja Buffa and the city election commission. The residents — Sallie Hock, Jason McClanahan, Clifford Frost and Darrell Vickers — want the council members reinstated to protect their right to effectively cast votes as guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth amendments.

The residents believe their voices will not be heard on City Council for the next four years unless the council members are reinstated, according to the lawsuit.

"... I will be unable to cast my vote for a candidate who reflects my political views, and the views of other Warren voters with whom I often associated with on matters concerning the city of Warren," Hock wrote in an affidavit attached to the lawsuit.

There was no immediate response from the city's attorney.

The Supreme Court ruling leaves Berdy, Gary Boike, Patrick Green, Kelli Kalvinski, Angela Rogensues and Diane Young as Aug. 6 primary candidates for the at-large council seats. April 23 was the deadline to file for the primary, according to the Macomb County elections website.

The decision also affects District 3, where Stevens was removed, and leaves Mark Dennings, Jocelyn Howard, Mindy Moore and Susan Smiley as primary candidates.


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