Candidates Focus on City Spending in Sterling Heights Mayoral Race

​Challenger Ken Nelson says officials went on a spending spree that left the city $200 million in debt, while Mayor Michael Taylor says investments in public safety and parks increased Sterling Heights’ attractiveness and affordability.

Stock photo of dollar bills.

Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor
Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor

City spending is taking center stage in Sterling Heights’ mayoral race.

The city invested hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure projects, including improving public safety agencies and renovating a major park.

Mayoral challenger Ken Nelson accuses Sterling Heights officials of going on a spending spree that left the city about $200 million in debt. He says the city never really addressed whether taxpayers wanted to make years of debt payments to cover the cost of the moves.

Quinn Klinefelter/WDET
Quinn Klinefelter/WDET

“Basically I’m a money person. I am not a public speaker per se. But I am a listener. And what we haven’t had for the last 10 or 12 years is anybody that listened to the people.”

Nelson accuses current city officials of being arrogant and vows to halt the spending.

But incumbent Mayor Michael Taylor counters that the moves financed amenities that increased Sterling Heights’ attractiveness and affordability, and helped make it one of the safest big cities in Michigan.

“My opponent wants to roll back all of the funding we’ve done,” Taylor says. “I’m going to continue investing in our city, investing in our infrastructure, investing in our people and investing in our quality of life.”

Taylor says the city has an excellent credit rating. He adds that his door is always open to hear citizens’ points of view, even ensuring his personal cellphone number is easily available to residents.

Some questioned whether Taylor’s support for Joe Biden would hurt him among a city electorate that voted decisively for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Taylor won about two-thirds of all votes cast during the city’s mayoral primary in August.


Related: View WDET’s candidate guides for Sterling Heights Mayor and City Council

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  • Quinn Klinefelter
    Quinn Klinefelter is a Senior News Editor at 101.9 WDET. In 1996, he was literally on top of the news when he interviewed then-Senator Bob Dole about his presidential campaign and stepped on his feet.