On Tuesday, November 2, Detroit voters will have the opportunity to “voice their choice” and elect a mayor, city clerk and city council members. Ahead of the General Elections, the Michigan Chronicle Editorial Board has made its endorsements.
When Mayor Duggan took office in January 2014, Detroit was experiencing the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history. Duggan eventually gained control of the city, and after assembling one of the most diverse administrations in the city’s history, the mayor rolled out his plan, which included lighting the city nights with more than 60,000 LED street lights, overhauling the system for better trash and big bulk pick up, establishing reliable public transportation, improving police and fire departments’ response times and tearing down or renovating abandoned homes.
The Duggan-led administration continues to attract new businesses to the Motor City with a negotiated first-look commitment to hire qualified Detroiters. When Amazon opens its $400 million giant distribution center next year on the grounds of the former Michigan State Fair, the company will hire at least 1,200 workers, most of which will be Detroiters.
The mayor’s interest in building a better Detroit goes beyond downtown and midtown. Through partnerships, such as Motor City Match and other initiatives, Black businesses, developments and entrepreneurships are on the rise in local neighborhoods. Under Duggan’s leadership, Detroit’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic made national news with mass vaccination centers established at TCF and Ford Field. Detroit was one of the first cities in America to make vaccines available to residents as young as 16 years old.
While there have been accomplishments under Duggan, more work must be done to improve the city for its people, especially in areas of public health and public safety. Based on his overall achievements, the Michigan Chronicle believes Mayor Duggan has earned the right to another term to carry out his vision and plan for a better Detroit for all.
Detroit City Council
At-Large, Janee Ayers
Janee Ayers has been on City Council since 2015. She chairs the Budget, Finance and Audit Committee to ensure that Detroit has a balanced budget and avoids financial issues. Ayers is also vice-chair of the Public Health & Safety Committee, which is instrumental in helping residents and small business owners receive needed resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ayers has been a constant advocate for jobs and economic opportunities for Detroiters; investing in Detroit’s communities; reducing recidivism and ensuring that returning citizens have opportunities; and advocating for a safe, reliable transit system. The Michigan Chronicle is confident that Ayers will continue her mission as Council At-Large by advocating for every district across the city.
At-Large, Coleman Young II
For 12 years, Coleman Young II has demonstrated leadership on the state level. From 2005 to 2010, Young was a member of the Michigan House of Representatives. From 2011 to 2018, he served in the Michigan State Senate, representing District 1. Young has vowed total commitment to the people of Detroit in addressing their needs, including getting people vaccinated, neighborhood public safety and cleanliness, affordable housing and grants for Detroit homeowners to rehabilitate their properties. The Michigan Chronicle endorses Coleman Young II, believing he will bring leadership, dedication and a fresh vision for helping Detroiters move forward at this critical juncture in time.
Since winning a Council seat in 2009, James Tate has worked diligently on behalf of Detroiters. His reputation of hosting a minimum of three community meetings each month in District 1 has given him real accessibility to hearing directly from the people he serves. Tate pledges to continue his efforts to revitalize neighborhoods and make them safer, create equitable access to the city’s cannabis industry for Detroiters and expand small businesses. Tate has worked with his peers on Council and the mayor to create testing and vaccine sites while providing PPE units to protect citizens. With many fresh faces expected at the Council table after the election, The Michigan Chronicle believes James Tate will render steady and smart leadership to help the Motor City keep running.
Roy McCallister Jr.
Incumbent Councilman Roy McCallister Jr. has been invaluable to District 2. Since winning the Council seat in 2017, McCallister has been accessible to hear the needs of residents and businesses to keep the district vibrant. In an era where policing and police reform are critical issues following George Floyd’s murder, McCallister’s background and experience as an investigator for the Federal Defender Office of Eastern District of Michigan and a retired police officer are vital to Council on behalf of Detroiters. The Michigan Chronicle endorses Detroit native Roy McCallister Jr., believing he will continue to help City Council move Detroit forward.
Scott Benson makes the case that since elected to Council (District 3) in 2014, more than 1,000 jobs have been created in the district. Benson was a key figure in advocating to bring Flex N Gate Detroit Manufacturing Plant to District 3. The global auto parts manufacturer began production with 50 percent of its workforce comprised of Detroiters. Benson was a strong advocate for the Council’s passing of the Detroit Climate Resilience Ordinance, a municipal law to help Detroit reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next three decades. Benson is creatively looking at ways to use the 24-square miles of structure-free, vacant land in the city that is not producing tax revenue. The Michigan Chronicle strongly endorses the re-election of Benson to Council.
Significant improvements to Detroit communities are critical for the city to prosper. Latisha Johnson’s community empowering experience should help achieve such goals. Johnson’s dedication to community building advocacy started in 2007 when she was elected to the Executive Board of East English Village Neighborhood Association. Her focus was to eradicate blight and keep residents from moving out. Johnson created MECCA (MorningSide, EEV and Cornerstone Village Community Advocates) Development Corporation, which addresses blight issues. Additionally, Johnson once served as vice-chair of the Detroit Board of Zoning Appeals. Johnson also has extensive experience in finance and contract negotiation. The Michigan Chronicle Editorial Board believes Johnson will be an asset to Council in community empowering issues, inclusive of housing sustainability, foreclosure prevention and public safety.
Since being elected to Detroit City Council in 2013, Council President Pro Tempore Mary Sheffield has been a major force for the people of District 5 and beyond. Some of her many accomplishments have included creating Detroit’s first inclusionary housing ordinance, creating the homelessness task force, launching the “Occupy the Corner Detroit” initiative to help curb youth violence, saving the senior home repair grant program and securing $2.5 million to help fund the initiative. Sheffield has been known to say, “I serve the public and help the public serve their purpose.” With a new-look City Council, Detroiters need a proven, trusted and dedicated leader with a track record of serving the residents of Detroit. The Michigan Chronicle emphatically endorses Mary Sheffield.
Hector Santiago is a newcomer to seeking local political office. Yet, he is seasoned in improving the quality of life for others in District 6. Santiago spearheaded a successful workforce development program that provided job training and expanded youth education opportunities for a decade. A product of Southwest Detroit, Santiago believes he knows and understands the needs of District 6. Following a nonviolent offense charge, Santiago later qualified for the City’s Project Clean Slate Program and received expungement, giving him a second chance. His direct work with returning citizens has helped hundreds of individuals receive a second chance and overcome barriers to jobs and other opportunities. The Michigan Chronicle feels District 6 will prosper with Hector Santiago as its council member.
Fred Durhal III
Fred Durhal III will bring needed political experience to City Council. From 2015 to 2019, he was a member of the Michigan House of Representatives (5th District), where he was the Minority Vice-Chair, House Appropriations. In his bid to join City Council, Durhal has pledged to make neighborhood stabilization and public safety among his top issues to address. Additionally, his campaign platform includes budget and policy creation of ordinances and programs that benefit and empower the growth of communities, protect the rights of residents and establish a level playing field for minority contractors. The Michigan Chronicle believes Durhal’s legislative, budgetary and community experience will prove valuable in helping City Council and the mayor move Detroit forward.
Detroit City Clerk
Since being elected to the office of City Clerk in 2005, Janice Winfrey has had both strong critics and staunch supporters. Yet Winfrey’s supporters point to her abilities to work with local groups, organizations, churches, nonprofits and other local entities to increase voter turnout. She is credited with implementing five new voting systems in the city and the introduction of BallotTrax to track the status and whereabouts of every absentee ballot during the election process. Amid the criticism and support, Winfrey continues to identify and facilitate better methods to improve elections. At a time when state legislation for new election laws is trying to be passed, which many feel will curb access to voting especially in Detroit, we need an experienced City Clerk to ward off attempts to usurp the will of Detroit voters. The Michigan Chronicle emphatically endorses the re-election of Janice Winfrey for City Clerk.