The U.S. President and Your Community

Who is in the White House matters to your city or suburb. WDET is exploring how.

How does who is in the White House matter to communities in southeast Michigan? 

That’s the big question WDET is answering in a series of multi-media reports aired and published before the March 8 Presidential Primary.

We’ll help you look at the 2016 presidential candidates’ records and platforms before you head to the polls. We’ll hear from residents about what determines their vote. We’ll report from Detroit and several suburbs in exploring the connection between the U.S. presidency and what happens in our neighborhoods between election cycles.

For example, President Obama’s focus on climate change has led to various grants and programs in southeast Michigan that are improving infrastructure. His disaster declaration after the August 2014 rains and flooding meant millions of dollars from FEMA – the Federal Emergency Management Agency — helped homeowners rehabilitate their homes and businesses. All recent presidents and their administrations have tweaked the Community Development Block Grant funds that are work throughout the region.

Federal money is paying for both the Interstate 75 expansion Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson discussed in his recent State of the County address AND for the M1 rail downtown.

Those are policy decisions that have real consequences in the lives and communities of southeast Michigan residents, and the next president will be making more of them.

Join us to see how they could play out.


About the Project

This project is funded by the Ravitch Fiscal Reporting Program at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. The program is named for New York civic leader and former lieutenant governor Richard Ravitch, who served as a special advisor to now-retired Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes during Detroit’s Chapter 9 case. The aim of the Ravitch Reporting Project Grants are to support in-depth, ambitious coverage of critical fiscal issues facing cities and suburbs across the country.

Meet the Project Team:

Sandra Svoboda, special assignments editor, covered Detroit’s bankruptcy for WDET beginning in 2014. The city’s Chapter 9 case highlighted the financial issues facing Detroit as well as many southeast Michigan municipalities, which will be explored as part of this project.

Melissa Mason, research assistant, joined WDET as an intern in January 2015 when she was still a student at University of Michigan-Dearborn. Her role at the station has expanded, and she now develops informational graphics including the “Detroit By The Numbers” series.

Jessica McInchak, digital architect, manages the design and functionality of the web presentation of the team’s reporting work. This is her second special project with WDET. She previously developed the “Detroit Bankruptcy: One Year Later” digital components at

Matthew Morley, videographer and photographer, brings images to the project. A former WDET intern and current Wayne State University graduate student, he filmed, edited and co-produced the “B Is for Bankruptcy” youth poetry project videos as part of the “Detroit Bankruptcy: One Year Later” project.