James R. Fouts

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James R. Fouts
7th Mayor of Warren, Michigan
Assumed office
November 9, 2007
Preceded byMark Steenbergh
Personal details
Born (1942-08-08) August 8, 1942 (age 80)
Hazel Park, Michigan, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic (Until 2015) Independent (2015-)
Residence(s)Warren, Michigan, US
Alma materCentral Michigan University
ProfessionEducator (Retired), City council member, mayor
Websitehttp://www.jamesfouts.com/

James Richard Fouts (born August 8, 1942)[1] is an American politician serving as the mayor of Warren, Michigan since 2007.[2][3]

Personal life[edit]

Fouts grew up in Hazel Park, Michigan, where his father served as the city assessor, and later as city manager. Prior to election to public office, he spent his career as an educator, teaching government, political science, and psychology in the Warren Consolidated School District. His last teaching position was at Sterling Heights High School, where he taught for about ten years.[4][2]

Early political career[edit]

In 1976, Fouts ran as a Republican for the Michigan state house of representatives in the 70th District.[5] Fouts was elected to the Warren City Council in 1981,[6] where he served for 26 years.[7] During his tenure, he initiated several anti-tobacco proposals.[7]

In 2007, Mark Steenbergh had reached the term limit as mayor of Warren and did not seek re-election.[6] Fouts ran against City Clerk Richard Sulaka for the open seat and won 62% to 38%.[6] In the 2007 campaign, finance reports show that Sulaka outspent Fouts $332,000[8] to $225,000.[9] Sulaka described Fouts as a "maverick" and attributed his victory to voters seeking an alternative to the previous administration.[6] The election also saw Warren citizens electing a new clerk, new treasurer, and a majority of new council members.[6]

Mayoral tenure[edit]

His enforcement of local building codes led to the demolition of dilapidated buildings and the promotion of neighborhood "clean sweeps" by city inspectors and was touted as a model for other mayors.[10]

In response to the challenges facing the automotive industry, an industry which employs many Warren residents, he initiated a "Buy American Products" policy for automotive purchases by heads of city departments.[11]

In 2009, Fouts tried to convince General Motors to relocate its headquarters from Detroit to Warren.[12]

His 2011 re-election campaign was endorsed by the Detroit Free Press who said the campaign had become "way too focused on legal battles over Fouts' age"[13] which became an issue when his opponents filed suit to remove him from the ballot because he had refused to place his age on the candidacy form.[14] He won the lawsuit and the election with more than 80% of the vote against City Councilwoman Kathy Vogt.[15]

In 2012, he acted to ban smoking within 100 feet of any city building without legislative approval, but the court said he did not have the authority and had the "No Smoking" signs removed. Fouts brought the measure back to the city council, after they had tabled it in September.[7]

In July 2014, Fouts personally denied permission to establish an irreligious "Reason Booth" at Warren City Hall, as a counterpoint to a "Prayer Booth" that was established in the city hall's atrium by a local Pentecostal church in 2009.[16][17] The resident denied permission, Douglas Marshall, filed a federal lawsuit against both the city and Fouts. Represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and Freedom From Religion Foundation, Marshall's lawsuit was based on the First Amendment rights to free speech and a violation of the Establishment Clause.[16][18] The defendants failed to respond to the lawsuit, and in 2015 the federal court ordered that the reason station "be allowed to operate on terms not less favorable than the terms granted to the 'Prayer Station' currently allowed in the atrium space" and entered an $100,000 judgment against the city and Fouts for costs, damages and attorney fees.[17]

In 2014, Fouts sued to invalidate 2014 Proposal 1, a voter-approved referendum that eliminated the Michigan personal property tax for businesses (which applies to industrial machinery and office equipment) and replaced it with an Internet sales tax. Fouts alleged that the ballot wording was biased.[19][20] The Michigan Court of Claims declined to invalidate the ballot initiative, and Fouts ultimately dropped an appeal.[21][22]

In March 2016, Fouts claimed that he was asked by security at the Democratic presidential debate in Flint to refrain from showing excessive enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders.[23]

In November 2016, Fouts accused Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel of a coverup of illegal dumping.[24] In response, Hackel provided a series of audio recordings to the media, that he claimed to have received from unidentified sources, allegedly of Fouts making derogatory comments. These lead to calls for Fouts's resignation. Fouts claimed that the recordings were manufactured and manipulated.[25] In a post on Facebook, Fouts declared his intention to remain in office through to the end of his term in 2019.[26]

In late 2017, amid the heroin epidemic, Fouts and Warren Police Commissioner Jim Dwyer created a program to offer rewards to residents of the city who give confidential tops to police informing on suspected drug deals.[27][28]

In April 2020, Fouts directed the Warren Police to not enforce the provision of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's executive order on COVID-19 banning commercial lawn services. Fouts stated the lack of lawn maintenance would lead to higher numbers of mosquitoes and rodents and be a health hazard and that it is an essential service.[29][30]

Elections[edit]

First term: In November 2007 Fouts won election as Mayor of Warren with 62% of the total votes cast.[31]

Second Term: In November 2011 Fouts won re-election as Mayor of Warren with 81% of the total votes cast.[32]

Third Term: In November 2015 Fouts won re-election again as Mayor of Warren with 85% of the total votes cast.[33]

Fourth Term: In November 2019 Fouts was reelected to a historic 4th term with 57.5% of the total votes cast.[34]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Fouts' License Expires, Check Reveals Age Question". Warren Weekly. 2011-08-23.
  2. ^ a b "Biography of Warren Mayor James R. Fouts". jamesfouts.com. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
  3. ^ "Mayor's Office". City of Warren. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  4. ^ Hedgpeth, Dana (2009-05-27). "Mich. Suburb Tries to Woo GM to Leave Detroit". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ "Index to Politicians: Foston to Fowle". Political Graveyard.
  6. ^ a b c d e DeFrank, Frank (November 7, 2007). "Fouts in a rout". The Macomb Daily. Archived from the original on November 13, 2013. Retrieved February 2, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c Franz, Norb (September 24, 2012). "Warren to revisit proposed smoking ban outside city buildings". Royal Oak Tribune. Retrieved February 2, 2014.
  8. ^ "Candidate Committee Cover Page" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 21, 2011.
  9. ^ "Candidate Committee Cover Page" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 21, 2011.
  10. ^ Christina Hall (May 16, 2013). "Warren's crackdown on blight seen as model for other communities". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  11. ^ "Buy American or Get Out?". The New York Times. 2008-09-12. Archived from the original on 2015-02-24.
  12. ^ Dana Hedgpeth (May 27, 2009). "Mich. Suburb Tries to Woo GM to Leave Detroit". The Washington Post. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  13. ^ "Editorial: Warren Mayor Fouts has led city well, deserves re-election". Detroit Free Press. October 28, 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-10-30. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  14. ^ "Associated Press, "Appeals Court Rules Fouts Doesn't Have to Disclose His Age to Be on Ballot," ABC Action News, June 10, 2011". Archived from the original on February 24, 2015. Retrieved February 23, 2015.
  15. ^ Macomb County election results: Jim Fouts' win for the ages, Warren Council President out, MLive, November 9, 2011
  16. ^ a b Watson, Ursula (2014-07-23). "Warren sued for refusing anti-religion display at city hall". The Detroit News. Archived from the original on 2014-08-05. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
  17. ^ a b Burns, Gus (2015-03-06). "Warren must pay $100,000 for denying atheist 'reason station' next to Christian 'prayer station' in City Hall". MLive.
  18. ^ Ashtari, Shadee (24 July 2014). "Mayor Sued By ACLU Compares Atheist Near Prayer Group To KKK At MLK Event". The Huffington Post.
  19. ^ Watson, Ursula (2014-08-07). "Warren mayor plans lawsuit to block voter-approved Proposal 1". The Detroit News. Archived from the original on 2014-08-08.
  20. ^ Watson, Ursula (2014-12-31). "Fouts appeals ruling on machinery tax". The Detroit News.
  21. ^ Franz, Norb (2014-12-11). "Judge tosses out Warren Mayor Fouts' lawsuit seeking to invalidate Proposal 1". The Macomb Daily. Archived from the original on 2015-01-01. Retrieved 2015-01-01.
  22. ^ Hall, Christina (2015-01-16). "Warren mayor to drop legal fight against Proposal 1". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2022-07-21.
  23. ^ "Michigan Mayor: Security Threatened To Kick Me Out Of Debate For Vocal Bernie Support". BuzzFeed.
  24. ^ Steckroth, John (30 November 2016). "Warren Mayor Jim Fouts defends himself in scathing letter to Mark Hackel". ClickOnDetroit.
  25. ^ Wang, Amy B. (2017-01-17). "A mayor denies it's his voice on lewd, racist tapes. His colleagues say 'resign.'". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2017-01-18.
  26. ^ Hall, Christina; Helms, Matt (January 17, 2017). "Warren Mayor Jim Fouts balks at calls to quit over alleged comments". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on January 18, 2017. There is tremendous effort to force me out immediately by slander, by character assassination, lies, and by out right condemnation of me. This is an attempt to reverse the 2015 election results when I won with 85% of the vote. I won with 81% in 2011. This is despite solid evidence that I did nothing wrong whatsoever. My actions as mayor have been inclusive and no one can deny that. We are the best run city in the state when it comes to police, fire, and fund balance. I will not resign," according to Fouts' Facebook post. "I will be here through at least 2019 as the people wanted me to. I will not capitulate to a rush to judgement by those who wish to take over city hall and hijack the 2015 election.
  27. ^ Allen, Robert (2017-10-04). "Warren offers $500 to residents who snitch on drug dealers". Detroit Free Press.
  28. ^ Spencer, Dave (2017-10-04). "City of Warren will pay $500 for tips on drug dealers". FOX 2 Detroit.
  29. ^ Hunter, George (2020-04-15). "Some Metro Detroit communities refusing to enforce Whitmer's lawn care ban". The Detroit News.
  30. ^ Marini, Miriam (2020-04-10). "Yes, you can mow your lawn under Gov. Whitmer's executive order". Detroit Free Press.
  31. ^ "Fouts in a rout". The Macomb Daily. Archived from the original on 2013-11-13.
  32. ^ Oosting, Jonathan (November 9, 2011). "Macomb County election results: Jim Fouts' win for the ages, Warren Council President out". MLive. Archived from the original on April 23, 2021. Retrieved December 10, 2021.
  33. ^ "Warren Mayor James Fouts wins third term". The Detroit News. Gannett. November 3, 2015. Archived from the original on May 14, 2016. Retrieved December 10, 2021.
  34. ^ Nov. 5, 2019 article on Fouts reelection