Answer: The most critical issues facing the City of Detroit are crime, our school district, unemployment, and our housing market: dilapidated and foreclosed homes.
Although you asked for three critical issues, I gave you four because these systems of operations are major components to what drives our economy. Addressing these issues is not an easy task. It takes a team that consists of not only city officials but businesses, residents, and community groups to come together and resolve these issues. Nonetheless, as a member of the City Council, I would address the crime issue by approving more policing in the neighborhoods, and reopening police mini stations in the communities. I would utilize our military police to effectively assist in policing our neighborhoods and local events, and I would talk with our legislators about revisiting our current firearms safety program to better educate individuals about how to effectively store firearms and other weapons securely so that they are not accessible to children (Act 321, April 1, 1994). To ensure that residents are aware of sex offenders in their neighborhoods, semi-annually, I would distribute out a listing of registered sex offenders to each and every resident, because not everyone has access to a computer, and sometimes people need to be reminded that evil is lurking about.
In addressing our school district, as a graduate of the Detroit Public Schools (DPS), I feel as though I have a responsibility to the schools that laid an educational foundation for me, so that others will have the opportunity to receive the same quality education as I did. I feel as though I have a responsibility to DPS, to establish a collaboration that will build a bridge of support so that students, parents, and our communities can thrive. I feel as though I have a responsibility to DPS, to ensure readiness programs are implemented, and that our students are prepared for college and the workforce. I feel as though I have a responsibility to DPS to provide them with the necessary resources available so that they are able to introduce our students to technological and ecological advances - increasing academic standards of learning beyond the twenty-first century. Lastly, I feel it is my responsibility as City Council to ensure grant and scholarship opportunities are offered to all students.
Sadly, unemployment has reached an historical high and has spun out of control. Individuals have resulted to advancing their education by returning or attending, for the very first time, higher learning education, however upon program completion and/or graduation there is still no jobs. Research has proven that colleges and universities have seen an increase in enrollment within the past few years since massive layoff and downsizing. Nonetheless, these individuals that have elected to advance their education in order to find employment are still unemployed. Therefore, in addressing the unemployment crisis, as a member of City County I will empower individuals to become self employed and help them find the necessary resources to finance their business. In addition, I will assist existing businesses with incentives that will help them compete globally. As a result, they are able to once again employ. With people working there are lesser crimes (safer neighborhood), a lesser chance of dilapidated homes and foreclosures (people have the financial resources to buy, restore, and upkeep), and stability (working individuals have a sense of purpose, worth, and pride). If we can get people back to work, we have not only stimulated our economy, but we have given an individual the desire to pursue life goals and have saved a family from destruction. It is my number one mission as a member of City Council to work closely with businesses to expand its market into the City of Detroit and to encourage its shareholders to employ Detroit residents. In addition, I will help establish new business ventures so that our city can thrive again.
Should the City of Detroit control Detroit Public Schools? How would you improve the district and increase enrollment?
Answer: The City of Detroit should partner with Detroit Public Schools (DPS). Our school district is a part of our city. We are one. Detroit can not reach its full potential and be competitive with other cities unless our school district improves.
Educational excellence should be our “motto” within our school district. This can be achieved by city and state government, businesses, and community groups partnering with DPS. There is a great cry from our children that is clearly demonstrating that they need attention and a full schedule.
To increase enrollment, if we balance academics, athletics, and/or extra curriculum activity programs that sparks this generation’s attention we can then increase enrollment. This generation enjoys hands on learning that involves computerized technology, creative concept models, and designing. They are a breed that enjoys utilizing technology. We need to revise our current academic structure but still meet State and Federal regulatory requirements, just at a different format. There is also a great need to incorporate after school and summer programs to ensure our youth have a safe haven and an extension to learning while their parents are at work trying to provide a better living for their children. I believe it takes a village to raise a child. It is time that individuals, businesses, and community groups focus on community outreach and redevelopment for the betterment of the City of Detroit, by first reaching out to our children.
How would you eliminate the city’s multi-million dollar budget deficit? Would you support raising taxes in order to generate revenue?
Answer: In order to eliminate the city’s deficit, there may be a need to sell some of its assets and cut back on some of its departments and luxury items that most of our city officials are benefiting from. I do not see a need to raise taxes in order to decrease or eliminate the deficit or generate revenue. Poor financial management is the result of debt. A comprehensive audit needs to take place to determine areas that are not effective and areas that are draining the budget. From there, a financial analysis will determine what should be done to eliminate the deficit. For the record, I will not approve raising taxes.
What can Detroit do to attract more high-tech jobs and businesses?
Answer: It is very important that local government supports the initiative of business growth through tax incentives, property tax abatements, low-interest loans, and catered programs to support this endeavor accordingly, and that surrounding colleges and universities join in, in designing manufacturing, industrial, and information technology programs so that we have a workforce that is prepared for the high-tech jobs. Tax incentives, property tax abatements, and low-interest loan programs are what attract manufacturing and industrial high-tech corporations to make the decision to relocate and/or expand into other markets. The support of local government is what sets the tone in bring high-tech businesses to their region and for the surrounding business climate. This relationship benefits the housing market, schools, and the mere physical appearance of the community. Detroit needs to bite the bullet and make long-term investment decisions that will ultimately restore and get the economy moving again.
What is your strategy for abandoned buildings and vacant land?
Answer: Vacant land and abandoned structures impose both economic and social costs on cities and the neighborhoods in which they are located. On the economic side, such properties lower neighboring property values and tax revenues even as they create pressure to raise taxes to maintain service levels. Likewise, vacant land and abandoned structures impose significant social costs on communities as images of blight, targets for vandalism and criminal activity, and an unsafe and unhealthy environment. My strategy for abandoned buildings that are owned by the city is to contact deconstruction companies; there are many that will provide demolition at a low cost in return for salvaging and obtaining floorboards, bricks, windows, copper pipes, glass blocks, etc… for reconstruction. In regards to vacant land, vacant land is cheaper and can be sold for redevelopment. Tax incentives given to developers can be arranged for the framework of new home developments, strip malls, restaurants, etc. Again Detroit needs to make long-term investment decisions, instead of wasteful spending on property that is not currently yielding a return.
What is the one regional issue you would like to tackle? How would you start?
Answer: I would like to propose a street car transit/rail system that will encompass our major cities. This is an effort to preserve our planet. There are varies environmental issues that are causing the deterioration of our planet but the most that are apparent to the public is air pollution. Within urban areas, cars are the single largest source of air pollution that create 13% of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions, 28% of chlorofluorocarbon, and between 30-40% of nitrogen oxides, the primary chemical responsible for acid rain, according to the Marland Energy Magazine (1993). The E.P.A reports that automobile air conditioners are the single largest source of ozone depleting chemical. It has also been reported that air pollution accelerates the deterioration of a city’s infrastructure and buildings, especially those of historic value (“The Ecological Effects of Roads”, Reed Noss, Wild Earth Magazine). For this reason, it is imperative that Detroit focus on supporting efforts to alternative energy solutions.
Rebuilding our city is an economic issue. By improving our efficiency, we improve our competitiveness, create the next generation of good-paying jobs and strengthen our economy.
Rebuilding our city is an environmental issue. Making greener choices will bring us cleaner air and drinking water, reduce sprawl and congestion, and cut greenhouse gases, to the benefit of our citizens and our planet. The start to this initiative is with our legislative branch.
How can you as a City Council member make a positive change in the national image of Detroit?
Answer: Just as trust has to be earned, integrity and leadership has to be demonstrated. Professionalism has to be displayed and love is an action word. Image is an iconic mental representation. In order to regain Detroit’s image, as a member of the City Council, I must represent the City with integrity, professionalism, sincerity, honesty with transparency, and intelligently. I must render an image to my city, state, and nation that the foolishness and selfishness stops here. I must demonstrate loyalty to the citizens of Detroit and ensure them that I will not sell out under pressure nor conduct illegal acts, which will comprise my integrity and the respect of my families, and the disgrace to my city, state, and nation.
Positive change, as it relates to image, begins with the character of its representatives.
What vital issue is nobody talking about that you feel needs to be addressed?
Answer: Our regional transit system (see question 6), automobile and homeowners insurance rates, and the city going green.
I was elated when the recycling program was implemented. Now we just need to educate the citizen’s of Detroit about the importance of the program through television and radio advertising. Through observation, the lack of support only demonstrates a lack of understanding about preserving our earth. It is vitally important that we support green programs and use eco-friendly products so that we preserve our natural resources and avoid natural disasters. As a result, the planet earth can harvest as it was designed to do.
Although we are the largest city in Michigan and granted, Detroit has the highest crime rate, insurance companies should not determine an individual’s rate according to the city’s ailments. Rates should be measured based on the individual’s performance. Resident’s responsiveness to higher insurance rates, compared to those in the suburbs, has caused individuals to migrate to other cities, thus decreasing the city’s population, resulting in loss of revenue.