Covey Considers Commission Seat & Gumbleton Joins County Commission Race

(Crystal A. Proxmire)


On Aug. 3, 2010 voters in the 25th District have the opportunity to vote in the primary race for Oakland County Commissioner.  Two Ferndale residents, both with City leadership experience, are included in the Democratic Primary.  If any of the other candidates would like to contact me for an interview they may e mail  You can read our political coverage policy and look for other political news here (


Gumbleton Joins County Commission Race

(Crystal A. Proxmire)


Former Ferndale City Council member and former Ferndale Democratic Club President Tomiko Gumbleton has announced that she is running for the Oakland County Commission.  Her name will be on the Democratic Primary ballot on August 3, 2010 along with Ferndale Mayor Craig Covey and Ruel E. McPherson of Hazel Park.  Richard Parisi is running unopposed on the Republican ballot.


Gumbleton recently resigned her position as a regional manager for Senator Debbie Stabenow, so that she can focus on her campaign.  She is also managing her photography business Union Photographic, and helping her son Ryan as he finishes his senior year of high school.


One area that Gumbleton feels she can make a difference in is increasing and organizing the resources available for small businesses.  Gumbleton pointed out the disparity between the fact that Oakland County is one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, yet has an unemployment rate of 13 percent.    


“Small business is the answer,” she said.   “By providing access to capital and different training opportunities, tax breaks on energy efficiency and alternative energy; we can bring jobs and stability.  There are ways businesses can invest in saving energy costs and helping the environment. There are a number of different initiatives that can help business growth.  Oakland County has a great opportunity with Automation Alley and their Small Business Microloan program.  …through federal funding  the Economic Development Department, Macomb Community College , boutique electrical engineering, high tech and defense companies in Macomb County were able to start a business incubator.  What they did was get Federal funding for the business incubator.  New startups then work with the Economic Development Department to grow business.  What I’d like to see in Ferndale, Hazel Park, and Royal Oak is a small business incubator.  We found Ferndale is a great area for that, and I have spoken with the Michigan Municipal League (MML) about starting an entrepreneurial incubator.”


“There are a lot more small businesses that need access to resources and support.  I started my photography career as a small business person.  I’ve worked with a lot of entrepreneurs who worked for large companies, and are now taking what they learned and applying it to a small business for themselves,” she said.


Gumbleton also said that County Commissioners play a big role in allocating money from the Federal Government to the cities in the county. She hopes to be able get more Federal funds for Neighborhood Stabilization Projects that help clean up unoccupied properties and save people from foreclosure.  “It is heartbreaking when you’ve done all the right things and your main investment is losing value at such a high rate,” she said.  “Last year there were 8,486 foreclosures in Oakland County. We need to make sure that Federal money comes to the communities to help residents who are in trouble.”


Better public transportation is another issue that Gumbleton hopes to advocate for if elected.  “We need to expand bus routes and make a 21st century transit plan.  Some cities have an opt-out policy for the bus service, but people could be using those busses – which run from Detroit to Pontiac – to get to school or to work.  This is something that all cities should be investing in, taking advantage of, and sharing the expense,” she said.


She’s also pushing for televised County Commission meetings, or at least meetings that are in the evenings so more of the public would be free to attend.


Gumbleton hopes her experience working with elected officials on all levels of government in her political and professional career will earn her the votes she needs to win the August 3 primary.  “What I see sometimes is missing with our officials is having people with the right experience and assets or who have the training to know how to be an elected official.  It’s not a high school election based on popularity, it’s a serious endeavor.”


Covey considers commission seat

Originally printed (Feb 15, 2010)

(Crystal A. Proxmire)


Ferndale Mayor Craig Covey is "strongly considering" running for a seat on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners, and is expected to make an official announcement within the next two weeks.

Covey said that although he really has enjoyed serving the city of Ferndale, he hopes to share his leadership experience with the broader community. The 25th District, which he hopes to represent, covers Ferndale, Hazel Park and the southern part of Royal Oak. The decisions he might make would affect all of Oakland County. "Instead of 20,000 people, I'd get to work for 1.2 million," he said.

The post is also an attractive one since he wouldn't be required to give up his seat in Ferndale to run. However, if elected Covey would have to resign as Mayor. In that case Mayor Pro Tem Kate Baker would step in as acting Mayor and the council would appoint a new member to serve for 2011.

No one else has yet announced interest the County Commission seat, which will become open as current Commissioner Dave Coulter leaves the post to run for State Senate. Coulter has been serving on the board for the past seven years. "Dave (Coulter) did a good job. He was the first openly gay County Commissioner so I don't have to blaze any new trails there," Covey said. Covey is well-known as the first elected openly gay mayor in Michigan. He has been on the City Council since 1999, and mayor since 2008. He is also the chief operating officer of the Michigan AIDS Coalition, an organization he helped found in 1988. He is an active member of the Ferndale Community Foundation, plus co-chair of the Ferndale Blues Festival and the Annual Pub Crawl, which raise money for local charities.

If elected, Covey plans on remaining active in the city. "This is my home. I love Ferndale. People wouldn't see me on cable as much, but they'll still see me up at Rosie's, shopping at Ferndale Foods or out and about at the various events."

The only hesitation Covey has is that some in the city might not want to see him go. "I'm surprised that I ran unopposed last election. I encourage people to run for office and get involved. That's what makes democracy work. But I want to make sure that people are OK and supportive of my decision to run, knowing that I'll be giving up my seat on Ferndale council. I've had people say 'we don't want you to go, we want you to still be mayor.' But I'd still be working for them - just that it'd be in Pontiac a couple days a week."

Covey said that a commissioner's job is to "guard the purse strings of the County."

"I would do for Oakland County what I helped to accomplish in Ferndale - rejuvenation of the city, acceptance and embracing of diversity, sound money management and keeping law and order a priority," he elaborated.

He said that the two issues that are important to him on a county-wide level are mass transit and reducing urban sprawl. "Plowing up farmlands to build strip malls and subdivisions is not economic growth," he said. "I call it economic folly. We have empty shopping malls and desolate streets already in this county. I promote filling in and fixing what we have to build up nice communities that are already here and struggling. It's much more economical and it benefits more people."

Covey also plans to encourage the county to promote diversity and for county leaders to see past party lines. "There is absolute grid-lock and dysfunction in Lansing because of party politics," he commented. "Even though I'm a Democrat and I'm liberal in some areas, I have a good track record of working with people of different backgrounds. I hope I can prevent that kind of partisan divide that happens in Lansing from happening in Pontiac. Everything runs better if people can get along."

Covey plans on seeking public input over the next couple of weeks. The primary is not until August, but he hopes to announce his decision by mid-March.


 NOTE - This article ran originally in Feb. 2010.


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