Westland, Warren mayoral primaries could hamper Michigan Dem House majority

By: - August 5, 2023 3:24 am

Michigan Capitol, Sept. 20, 2019 | Susan J. Demas

Two primary elections taking place Tuesday in metro Detroit could have the power to stall statewide Democratic legislative priorities if Reps. Kevin Coleman (D- Westland) and Lori Stone (D-Warren) emerge victorious in their respective mayoral races. 

Rep. Kevin Coleman | Michigan House photo

The delicate 56-54 majority won by House Democrats after the November 2022 midterm election has enabled longtime party policy goals to make their way through the legislative process, including measures on gun violence prevention, abortion rights and the repeal of Michigan’s Right to Work law. 

Stone is running for mayor in Warren in Macomb County against George L. Dimas, a former Warren City Councilman, Warren City Council President Patrick Green, Alfonso King, Macomb County Commissioner Michelle Nard and former Warren City Councilman Scott Cameron Stevens. Current Warren Mayor James Fouts initially filed to run for a fifth term, but was denied based on a city statute creating term limits for local officials. 

Coleman is seeking the mayor’s office in Westland in Wayne County against Ali Awadi, City Councilman Jim Godbout, Anthony Jones, interim Mayor Mike Londeau and Ronald Sassak. 

Should Stone and Coleman win their primaries and advance to the general election on Nov. 7, a chain reaction of contingency plans could be put into place for the possibility of two members of the Legislature needing to be replaced.

Although the House seats aren’t expected to flip — both lawmakers represent what are considered safe Democratic seats — they would still leave crucial seats vacant for a time.

In Coleman’s case, current Westland Mayor Michael Londeau is set to resign before his term expires, raising questions of whether his replacement would take office immediately after the certification of the election in November or be inaugurated in January, as is customary.

Coleman said the significance of his role to the Democratic majority isn’t lost on him, and that he carefully considered whether or not to seek local office after three terms in the statehouse. 

“We just won the majority,” Coleman said. “So it’s important that we keep it, but the thing that I’ve reassured everybody is that I’m in a strong Dem seat [in Westland], so there’s no possibility of us losing it.” 

Rep. Lori Stone | Michigan House photo

In Warren, Stone would take office in November if she were to win a general election, meaning that in the event both representatives prevail in their respective cities, Democrats could see their 56-54 majority slim down to a 54-54 tie until special elections could be held. 

The last time there was a tie in the House was during the 1993-94 session when Democrat Curtis Hertel and Republican Paul Hillegonds were co-speakers.

Stone did not respond to requests for comment from the Michigan Advance at the time of publication. 

Coleman said he’s optimistic about his chances on Tuesday, and that his campaign has seen an outpouring of support at events and in yard sign giveaways. 

“I’ve been an effective legislator in Lansing,” he said. “But I think for me, public service is about doing what people want, and I think the community at large really wants to see me come back and serve as mayor.”

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Lily Guiney
Lily Guiney

Lily is a contributor to the Michigan Advance and a former reporting intern. Her coverage areas included state government and politics, including abortion rights and gun violence prevention issues.

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