What Happens to Council When Mayor Craig Covey Leaves
There will be a shift in city government until a new mayor is appointed.
It's business as usual for City Council over the next six weeks, but come Jan. 1, there will be an empty chair at the table. With Craig Covey winning a seat on the Oakland County Commission for the 25th District, he will step down as mayor, leaving a temporary void in Ferndale's local government.
So what does that mean?
When Covey leaves the Ferndale mayoral seat, Mayor Pro Tem Kate Baker will assume his duties, the largest of which will be chairing Council meetings. Others may include various events and, possibly, performing civil marriages.
"I don't imagine a lot will change," Baker said.
Policy wise, she's right. There will be one fewer vote on Council, which puts more of the onus on members to participate, but the biggest change will mostly be in appearances.
"The change in mayor is symbolic more than it is substantive," City Manager Bob Bruner said. "The mayor chairs meetings and is the face of the community. But as far as policy goes, it's one in five votes. From a policy perspective, you won't see a big change."
With only four votes on Council, a two-two vote is possible, but results in a disapproval. A four person Council will need at least three votes to get anything approved.
Baker will assume Covey's role as mayor for 30 days, starting Jan. 1, while the Council deliberates on Covey's successor. Anyone who is eligible to run for mayor can be considered for the appointment. Council will start accepting applications after the Nov. 22 meeting.
"The application process will all be online," Baker said.
The appointed mayor will play out the rest of Covey's term, which runs into 2012.
"This will be my third mayor since I've been here," said Bruner, who was appointed city manager Feb. 12, 2007. "(Former Mayor Bob) Porter, Covey and now the new mayor. Before that it was relatively stable."
Covey won the Democratic primary for the county commissioner's seat on Aug. 3 and coasted to victory on Nov. 2.
"The bigger victory was the primary," Covey said. "That's not to say a Republican couldn't win this district, but it would be really hard." The 25th District is Ferndale, Hazel Park and the southern portion of Royal Oak.
Election victory, however, was bittersweet.
"If you would have told me a year ago that I would be county commissioner and not mayor, I wouldn't have believed you," he said. "I was content being mayor and planned to do that for several more terms."
But when Covey found out that David Coulter would leave his seat at the 25th District County Commission to run for state senator (which Coulter lost in the primary), he said he had to consider the opportunity.
"It just goes to show you how much can change in a year," he said.
Covey said being Ferndale's mayor has been the highlight of his life.
"I've been frustrated on Council and on the losing end on a number of votes," he said. "But I'll miss being there."