By Tom Kirvan
Traditionally celebrated in June each year, Pride Month took an early turn in Ferndale on January 8 when Rolanda Kelley, the first openly gay woman elected to city council, was sworn in to office.
Fittingly, the oath of office was administered by Oakland County Circuit Judge Jacob Cunningham, who in the November 2018 election became the first openly LGBTQ+ person to earn a seat on the Oakland Circuit Court bench and one of only a handful of openly gay judges serving in Michigan.
Kelley, who has served as chair of the LGBTQ+ Committee for the Oakland County Democratic Party, is a senior level manager at Costco with more than 20 years of leadership experience in budget and payroll management, as well as business strategy and development.
In a post to her Facebook page, Kelley said the swearing in ceremony marked a “historic moment, as I am the first openly gay woman elected to serve Ferndale,” a city of 19,000 residents that has become a center of progressive politics in the state.
“It was an honor to have my friend, The Honorable Judge Jake Cunningham, the first openly gay judge in Oakland County, administer the oath,” said Kelley, who will serve a four-year term in office. “It was so special to be surrounded by the support of my partner, my son, my friends, community members, and Senator Jeremy Moss, as I stepped into this important role.
“Congratulations to Councilperson Donnie Johnson and the new Mayor Ferndale, Raylon Leaks-May, the first Black mayor elected to serve Ferndale,” added Kelley, who noted that she is “eager to work for the betterment of our community over the next four years.”
For Judge Cunningham, who has announced plans to seek a second six-year term on the bench in the November 2024 election, the swearing in ceremony was a “special moment” for Ferndale.
“I was honored to be asked by Rolanda, who is a neighbor and my friend, to take part in the ceremony, which we both see as further advancing the progress of the gay community in Michigan,” said Cunningham, who formerly served as a judicial staff attorney for Judge Mary Ellen Brennan of the Oakland Circuit Court. “I’m confident she will do an excellent job representing the residents of Ferndale throughout her time on city council. She has the best interests of the residents at heart.”
Subscribe to the Legal News!
Full access to public notices, articles, columns, archives, statistics, calendar and more
Day Pass Only $4.95!
Three-County & Full Pass also available