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Ferndale Mayor David Coulter chosen as next Oakland County Executive

Tracy Samilton

  Update, 8/19/19 12:53 pm:  David Coulter took the oath of office early Monday afternoon to become Oakland County Executive, after submitting his resignation as Mayor to the City of Ferndale earlier in the day.

Update, 8/19/19, 9:00 am: Ferndale City Council members voted Monday to accept the resignation of Mayor David Coulter. 

Coulter is quitting four months before the end of his last term to take the top job in Oakland County.

Oakland County's less-than-smooth transition to a new County Executive continued its rocky path, after a narrowly partisan vote by commissioners to select Coulter for the job.

The vote was 11 Democratic commissioners for Coulter, to 10 Republican votes against.   

Republicans allege the vote was improper, and they tried to get an injunction to stop the vote before it took place on Friday. But the judge denied the request for an injunction.

Oakland County Republican Party officials say they will sue in circuit court next week to continue trying to block the appointment, alleging that Oakland County Commission Chairman David Woodward was ineligible to vote.

Woodward, a Democrat, resigned on August 7th to try to get the county executive job. But after he didn't, he withdrew his resignation, and voted for Coulter. Republicans say he can't do that.

But Coulter, also a Democrat, says he's confident his appointment will hold.

"I wouldn't have accepted this position if I thought there was a legal question around his resignation," he said after the vote.

Coulter will fill the remaining 16 months of the term left vacant after the death of County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, who died August 3rd. 

Several members of Patterson's executive team, including Deputy County Executives Laurie Van Pelt and Phil Bertolini, and Chief Deputy County Executive Bob Daddow, threatened to resign immediately, and not assist with the transition, unless Democratic Commissioners agreed to hand the job to Republican Gerald Poisson, who was Patterson's right hand man.

They said otherwise, Oakland County's sterling financial reputation and its AAA bond rating would be at risk.

Coulter says that will not happen on his watch.

The appointment of Coulter becomes effective as soon as his resignation as Ferndale's mayor happens.  That's expected to take place at a special Ferndale City Council meeting on Monday.

Coulter is also planning to run for State Representative. He says he doesn't know yet if it's possible to do that, plus run Oakland County. 


Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.