Last year’s municipal elections brought about some big changes in city government in Detroit. That’s especially true on City Council, which has been plagued by corruption probes and criminal charges in recent months and years. On Wednesday, a federal judge sentenced former Councilman Andre Spivey to two years in prison.
“I’m looking forward to restoring the faith in council.” —Detroit City Council President Mary Sheffield
This city council will look quite a bit different than it did before the elections. It has six new members, and only three incumbents returning. And the leadership on council also looks very different.
Listen: Detroit City Council President Mary Sheffield talks priorities in new term.
Councilwoman Mary Sheffield represents District 5, and she’s the new president of Detroit City Council. She says the recent corruption probes and charges have done real damage to the public’s trust in the city’s legislative body.
“We, unfortunately, have had a very dark cloud over city council,” Sheffield says. “But I’m looking forward to restoring the faith in council.”
She says that it’s part of the council president’s job to set a tone that makes it clear that corruption and unethical behavior will not be tolerated.
“I think it is a part of the [job of the] president and colleagues to set a tone and to be an example that we are held to a certain standard, that integrity and decorum and civility and effectiveness should be the norm with any democratically elected body. And I plan on leading that way,” she says.
I think that as a leader that I will continue to stand firm that it is no nonsense, zero tolerance and that my colleagues also embrace that mindset as we move forward and lead in Detroit.” —Detroit City Council President Mary Sheffield
Sheffield says part of her efforts to crack down on corruption include making sure members all have ethics training that is easy to understand.
“It’s very important to me, and I think that as a leader that I will continue to stand firm that it is no nonsense, zero tolerance and that my colleagues also embrace that mindset as we move forward and lead in Detroit.”
Sheffield, however, says that she doesn’t “necessarily know if the rules need to be changed” when it comes to possible ethics reforms. She is instead emphasizing more training on the current rules and laws that are in place already.