Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mayor's Farewell Address to the City of Ferndale

Mayor’s Farewell Address – Dec. 28, 2010

As most everyone knows, because of my election to the Oakland County Commission in November, I am required to resign my position as your mayor next week and will do so on Monday January 3rd . While I always try and finish what start, I do want to take this opportunity and apologize to the people of Ferndale for not finishing up this term as mayor.

I am so proud of this city though, and I do promise to continue to work hard and do the best job I can, for our city and the region, just wearing a different hat.

The truth is, however, that nearly all of the things that I had wanted to accomplish for the city when I first ran for city council have been completed.

When I first came to Ferndale in the late 80’s, the city was in tough shape. Property values were stagnant and some families were moving further out to suburbs, fearing a worsening of urban problems associated with Detroit.

I 696 did not connect under Woodward, and many of the storefronts across the city were empty. The Magic Bag theatre was still an adult porn house, and the Woodward Ave Brewers was a massage parlor. But many people saw the potential for a rebirth of a city centrally located, with character and affordable homes and a great history.

It was under Former Mayor Chuck Geodert’s leadership that the current success of Ferndale began to take hold. It was his vision to
apply new ways of thinking, to bring back walk ability, slow traffic, and prepare our downtown for its resurgence.

I learned a lot about Government and open and honest leadership from Chuck Goedert, and also from my most important mentor, Former Mayor Robert Porter.

Mayor Porter helped me win my first race for Council, and has acted as a friend and mentor for the past dozen years. It was Bob Porter who continued to open the city up to new ways of thinking, supporting the new families and new cultures that were beginning to make Ferndale home. He was a huge friend to businesses here, and always willing to help residents in his accessible way.

I would like to take a a minute here and thank the Gay & Lesbian
Community for the huge amount of work and support that it has added to the growth and success of Ferndale. They took a chance on Ferndale, and over the past two decades, while still only about 20% of the voting population, they fixed up their homes, opened up and supported businesses, joined in volunteerism on boards and commissions, and became an accepted and integral part of the fabric that is our town.

It can be amazing to remember that just fifteen years ago, there was still a question as to whether the GLBT community could be accepted and welcomed into Ferndale. Some thought it controversial, and accused me of having a secret gay agenda…

Of course the truth is, we did have an agenda, which was to evolve a town into one that was open, welcoming, safe, diverse, and fun. And I want to thank the greater Ferndale community for its welcoming and support and embracing the full integration of the gay community into the city. We were all so proud when the voters overwhelmingly approved the Human Rights Ordinance just a few short years ago.

When I first got on Council, dancing was prohibited in downtown bars.
Tattoo parlors were considered adult businesses, and therapeutic massage facilities could not be opened there either. With the help of Councilmen Galloway and Lennon, and City Attorney Dan Crist, we changed those laws.

When I first got on Council, there was no blues festival, no DIY, no Ice festival, no Motor City Gay Pride. Now of course these events are hallmarks of Ferndale’s culture, and they could have only occurred with so many people working tog ether for common purposes and goals.

One of the things that makes me most proud in Ferndale is the cooperation and collaboration that has become standard between the City, the DDA, the Chamber of Commerce, the schools, the businesses and community organizations. It didn’t always occur that way. This situation of all of us rowing together, in the same direction towards common goals, makes us so much stronger as a community and of that we may also be proud.

There were sad times on this council as well, certainly losing David Lennon was a tough time for us and the city. We also lost sitting Council member Gerry Kulick early last decade. But Ferndale recognizes its heroes, and we have a Lennon Park, and a Kulick Community Center named in their honors.

Ferndalians also need to know the gem they have in the 43rd District Court. Judge Joe Longo is an amazing and smart man, an excellent Judge, and a solid friend and another who has provided me mentorship.

My only regret on council was our failure to provide you Judge with better Court facilities, and I hope that someday we can rectify that situation.

Finally let me thank two more groups of people, the Seniors and other long time residents who have been with Ferndale for decades, and who stuck by her when she was getting a little rough around the edges, And also to the young people and families who are now making Ferndale home. Both are integral to the success of the city, and each group needs the other.

Cities and towns are under great stress all across our nation today, and while the great recession is finally ending, and brighter economic times will slowly return to Michigan, let me caution that the only way for us to continue our success is to work together.

Taxpayers in Ferndale have always been generous in funding quality city services, but their pocketbooks are under great duress. The city unions must share the current pain and understand that business as usual is no longer possible.

Balancing the desire for safe streets and good city services and recognizing the limits to tax payers support is a tightrope that this council will be tasked with for years to come.

With that, I thank all the people of Ferndale for their love and support these past eleven years, and I want you to know that my heart swells with pride every day in this great community we call Ferndale.

We have created a wonderful place that is now a destination and a model for cities across the Midwest. We truly are, the coolest city in Michigan and of that, we can all be very proud.

Thank you,

Craig Covey, Mayor
City of Ferndale


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