Judge orders 4 Warren council members off ballot saying they're past term limits

Posted at 3:33 PM, May 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-31 15:33:04-04

MT. CLEMENS, Mich. (WXYZ) — A Macomb County Circuit Court judge has said four sitting Warren city council members are ineligible for re-election due to term limits and has ordered their names be removed from the August primary ballot.

The ruling from Judge James Maceroni came down Friday, weeks after the suit was filed by Connor Berdy, who is running for an at-large seat with the Warren City Council.

According to the ruling, Council President Cecil St. Pierre, Council Vice President Steven Warner, Council Secretary Robert Boccomino and at-large Councilman Scott Stevens will be removed from the list of names eligible to run in the 2019 election.

In 1998, the Warren City Council amended the city's charter to provide for term limits consisting of three terms or 12 years on the council, back when it had nine members. Then, in 2010, the charter was once again amended to change the number of councilmembers from nine to seven, five of which represent districts and two which are at-large.

Four years later, in 2014, the council requested that the city attorney issue an opinion regarding the term limit language, and the attorney said that the members represented two houses, one for the district members and the other for the at-large members. The attorney also ruled that someone could serve three terms in each house, like a bicameral legislature.

St. Pierre served on the council for six terms, four consecutive terms from 1987-2003 and two consecutive terms from 2011-2019. He filed to become an at-large councilman, according to the judge.

Stevens, the judge said, has served as an at-large councilman for three consecutive terms, but has filed for district 3 in the 2019 election.

Warner filed for council district 4 and has previously served a term as an at-large councilman and two terms as a district councilman, according to the ruling.

Finally, the ruling said Boccomino filed for election in district 5 but also served one term as an at-large councilman and two terms as a district councilman.

The court found that Warren's City Council is not actually a bicameral legislative body, and said that Berdy has a right to challenge the term limits.

"It is undisputed that each of the four challenged individuals have served at least three complete terms and twelve years on the council," the ruling reads. "The court further finds that the Defendants' argument with respect to the merit of that challenge are baseless.

According to the court, there was no other way that could have given relief to Berdy, except to remove the names of the councilmen off of the ballot.

You can read the entire ruling below.

Judge orders 4 Warren councilmen off ballot over term limits by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd