By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK – As newly elected city officials were sworn in Nov. 19 by 25th District Court Judge Gregory Clifton, one of the city’s newest residents, Mayor Thomas Karnes’ grandson, Magnus Brown, was in the audience.
Magnus, 10 weeks old, and the mayor’s first grandchild, was summoned to the stage with his grandmother, Lincoln Park first lady Mary Karnes, his aunt Connie Karnes and his mother, Sarah Brown, to receive thanks from the re-elected mayor, who presented his wife with roses.
The ceremony and speeches by the newly elected officials, throughout which Magnus uttered nary a whimper, included speeches by outgoing Councilmen Thomas Murphy and Chris Dardzinski, who was reminded that at future council meeting his remarks will be limited to five minutes, which drew laughter from those in attendance.
Karnes and City Treasurer Patricia Lulko, who both ran unopposed, took the oath of office along with newly elected City Clerk Kerry Kehrer; City Council President Donna Breeding; and Council members Carlos Salcido, Lylian Ross, Michael Higgins, Larry Kelsey and Tom Parkinson.
Breeding, former city clerk, and Salcido are new to the council, which Ross joined recently to fill the vacancy left by the late Mario DiSanto, who died Aug. 18, 2017, while in office.
Karnes spoke of the challenges Lincoln Park has faced in recent years, and the positive changes that are occurring.
He said the city survived its time under an emergency manager, and faces new challenges to fully fund its pension obligations.
Karnes said road repair is a major resident concern. In November 2013, voters approved a $20 million bond for road repairs and inspection, but action was delayed while the city was in receivership and under the control of an emergency manager.
“It is our goal now to move forward with the bond, and make a significant impact on road repair,” Karnes said.
He said with Sears closing, its large section of land offers the city new possibilities.
“It is sad to see them go, but as one door closes, another one opens,” Karnes said. “I am excited to think about what could be going into that property. That is the largest section of valuable property, and I do not think will remain vacant for very long.”
Karnes said the proposed animal shelter would be the first time in 10 years the city would have its own facility.
“We will make sure that our animals are properly cared for,” he said.
Karnes said plans are under way to have a new building for the 25th District Court, which he said had been sought for the past three years.
“The current 25th District Court is in a sad state of disrepair,” he said. “The state mandated that we become a district court of not just one city, Lincoln Park, with two judges, but Lincoln Park, River Rouge and Ecorse, with the same two judges. So there is a tremendous amount of new work that is in there, and it is pretty tight.”
Karnes said plans are under way to get a new court building, and he hopes to be able to share more definitive good news soon.
He said with the advent of the Downriver Utility Wastewater Authority, the member communities are now insiders, instead of outsiders, as they were when it was under Wayne County control, and that now its voices will be heard and the residents’ rights with respect to rates are represented.
Karnes said the $7 million Ford-UAW project on Outer Drive is near completion, and he said it will bring new business to the city. He also recognized Giles Tucker and the Downtown Development Authority for its role in bringing a new Sonic Drive-In to Lincoln Park, as well as the new drive-through coffee shop, the Lincoln Perk.
Karnes said his parents came to the city in 1951, bought a home and raised a family here. He said he went to school in the city, got married, bought a house and raised a family here, too, and he spent 32 years as a police officer in Lincoln Park.
“I find Lincoln Park a wonderful place to live,” he said. “My goal for the next two years is simple – make Lincoln Park a better place to live. I look forward to what we can accomplish in the next two years.”
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)