BY AJ TRAGER
FERNDALE – Mayor Dave Coulter has announced his bid for the 2015 Ferndale Mayoral elections.
Coulter was appointed as mayor of Ferndale by City Council in January 2011 after former Mayor Craig Covey vacated his position to serve as county commissioner. Coulter served four terms as county commissioner but left his position to run for a state Senate race.
The deadline for adding a name to the mayoral race is July 21.
“Like most communities, our biggest problem has been financial. The recession wreaked havoc on our city budget. We are recovering from those problems,” said Coulter. “By necessity my number one job is looking to deliver outstanding services at less cost. It’s not the sexiest thing in the world, but it is something every mayor needs to do.”
If elected, this will be Coulter’s third term serving as the mayor of Ferndale. Coulter believes that Ferndale is a beautiful place to live and raise children, but much has to be done before it is the shining community that it can be. And he has a plan.
Coulter wants to continue work on the downtown area and help rebuild and maintain the parks in the areas he says have been struggling since the recession.
“We have more work to do in our downtown in both planning and strategy to encourage more parking and retail businesses,” Coulter said. “I will continue to work on both of those issues and do whatever I can to make sure that Ferndale continues to be an inclusive and aggressive community where everyone feels valued and able to contribute to our city.”
Like many communities in Michigan, the mayor only works part-time and shares executive roles with the city manager. Coulter also works as a senior program officer at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan foundation.
“In both my jobs it is not enough just to have a good idea. You need to have a credible plan to implement your idea and actually sell measurable results,” Coulter said. “So at the foundation we give money to projects that we think have a high likelihood of success. As mayor there is no shortage of ideas, but the question is where do you invest a limited amount of resources? We try to do that in areas of measurable interest. I’m a data guy. You need to demonstrate to your residents that you are saving money, improving services or whatever else your objective may be.”
In his 2015 State of the City address, Coulter acknowledged the pristine quality of Ferndale’s roads, that crime rates are down to figures not seen since the 1960s and are continually dropping, and how changes in city maintenance hiring saved the city half a million dollars.
Even though quality of life continues to rise in Ferndale, Coulter would like to see more development and growth within the city and for the LGBT community. Affirmations, the 10th largest LGBT community center in the country, calls Ferndale its home and sits directly downtown on the Nine Mile stretch. Coulter says 10-15 percent of Ferndale residents identify as LGBT, and the presence of Affirmations only affirms the inclusive atmosphere that Ferndale tries to embody.
“As an openly LGBT man, it is important to me that we are not only inclusive in Ferndale but also that LGBT people are treated equally,” Coulter said. “I am proud that in this last term we were able to expand our healthcare benefits to domestic partner benefits for our employees. Making sure that every employee and resident knows that they have equal access to the benefits of this community is personally important to me.”
Coulter has married a few same-sex couples in the past year and takes his responsibility to demonstrate the city’s commitment to same-sex partnerships very seriously. On June 26, Coulter married two couples and he officiated another marriage last week. He expects that number to rise in upcoming months.
“Even though I am a gay mayor, I am just as mindful about protecting the rights of all residents of Ferndale, including people of other minority groups. Gay is just one subgroup of our population,” he added.