The City of Sturgis had a change of leadership this week, when the city commission appointed a new mayor, Frank Perez.
In a 6-3 vote at a special meeting Monday, the commission appointed Perez for the next year. Incumbent mayor Jeff Mullins, who served for two years, received three votes after nominations closed.
The meeting was opened by city staff until the positions of mayor and vice mayor, held by Aaron Miller, were confirmed. Nominations opened with commissioner Robert Hile recommending Mullins, followed by commissioner Rick Bir, who selected support for Perez. Commissioners Alan Albarran, Linda Harrington, Emmanuel Nieves, Marvin Smith, and Perez voted for Perez, with Mullins, Hile and Miller supporting Mulllins.
Miller, the sitting vice mayor, was returned to his position in a 5-4 vote. Mullins, Albarran, Harrington, Hile and Miller voted support for him, while Bir was also nominated for vice mayor. Bir was supported by Smith, Nieves, Bir and Perez.
Before the vote for mayor was made, Mullins said there has been “unanimous support for mayor” over the past few years, and that “it has been great serving as mayor.” He also cautioned the commission to cast their votes for principle over person.
“I have never asked for support in any way for this office,” Mullins said. Recently, Mullins said, he said some meetings and interactions have been “contentious,” and he was concerned how that may be perceived. He asked the commissioners to vote for “decorum, respect and dignity.”
After Perez was affirmed as mayor, he took over leading the organizational meeting. Committee appointments were also made during the abbreviated meeting.
Perez said after the meeting he is “grateful and humbled” by the support of the commission, and that he looks forward to serving as the mayor of Sturgis over the next year.
The positions of mayor and vice mayor are appointed positions within the city commission, with peer-made selections made annually during the November organizational meeting.
Perez was appointed to the city commission in April 2022 and was elected later that year in his own right. He owns Frank Perez Insurance Agency in Sturgis.
After the meeting, Mullins said he congratulates Perez on his appointment, as well as the reappointment of Miller.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve as mayor of Sturgis for the past two years,” Mullins said. “it’s very humbling to me that the commission unanimously chose me twice. Because of this, I know I’ve been doing something right.”
Mullins said he looks forward to working with Perez in his new leadership role.
“This is something that’s very important to him, and something he’s really wanted; he worked extremely hard to make it happen,” Mullins said. “There have been numerous accomplishments, but the challenges ahead are still many.”
Dan Cherry is a freelance journalist for Watershed Voice.