Judge rules that Warren Mayor Fouts can run for a fifth term, despite term limits approved by voters

Warren Mayor James Fouts
Warren Mayor James Fouts Photo credit Vickie Thomas/WWJ - FILE

WARREN (WWJ) -- A Macomb County Circuit Court Judge has ruled that Warren Mayor Jim Fouts is eligible to run for a fifth term despite new term limits added to the City Charter.

The City Council sued Fouts to try and uphold the City Charter — which was amended to impose a limit of three terms.

The mayor, who is celebrating the ruling, calls the lawsuit frivolous.

"Today's ruling by Judge Toia was not a victory for me, but it was a victory for the residents of Warren and the rule rule of law," Fouts told WWJ Newsradio 950's Luke Sloan, in an interview Thursday. "This ruling ensures that the voters will have a choice."

"I think it's important to have a choice," Fouts added. "I'm a former government teacher, and I think choice improves the outcome of any election."

City Council President Patrick Green, who is also running for mayor, said Warren voters already made their choice when over two-thirds voted in favor of adding term limits for the mayor to the City Charter in 2020,

Green said the council will be appealing the ruling, to defend the 41,000 voters who voted in favor of the proposal.

"We respectfully disagree with the court's decision," Green told Sloan. "The official ballot language approved by the Attorney General was clear that the mayor should have the same term limits as all other elected officials, and that all prior terms served are included."

"The result of this ruling today is that Mayor Fouts will be able to serve seven terms in office, and this was never the intention of the voters," Green said.

In his ruling, Circuit Court Judge Joseph Toia stated that the exact language of the term limits was not included in the proposal section of the ballot, but instead in the explanatory caption. Toia noted this and other what he called discrepancies concerning the proposal language as his reasons for ruling in favor of Fouts.

Mayor Fouts said he believes this is personal, and Green is out to get him.

"I think Mr. Green's goal has always been to have a TKO — a technical knockout against me," Fouts said. "He was the author and proposed term-limiting me. And, by the way, it's interesting to note: Warren taxpayers never had a petition drive, never attempted to have a term limit. This was instituted by the council."

Fouts has said he is running for another term in the mayor's office, and has been fundraising.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Vickie Thomas/WWJ - FILE