Detroit Voters Concerned About “Two Detroits”

  • In advance of the Nov. 7 general election, WDET has been asking voters how Detroit is doing and what elected officials can do to make it better. Residents have had all kinds of responses.

One we’ve heard frequently is that progress in the neighborhoods lags behind Downtown and Midtown.

Click here for all WDET’s 2017 election coverage.

WDET/Laura Herberg

Damon Damphie

Damon Damphie:

Well, I know that the jewel of every major city is the downtown area. While that looks really, really nice, sometimes you can feel like you’re being forgotten about in the neighborhoods.”

Laura Herberg

Curtis Greene

Curtis Greene:

Detroit is doing great downtown. Other places, another story. The “tale of two cities” is a fact. It’s not something people just made up to try to make their campaign seem more in tune with the grassroots. It’s a serious situation. 100,000 plus water shut-offs, 40 percent poverty rate… it’s a serious situation.”

WDET/Laura Herberg

La Vern Homan-Williams

La Vern Homan-Willis:

When you look around the city, you see some of the initiatives that are going on in East English Village, Palmer Woods, Palmer Park, of course there’s a ton of money that goes into New Center, the cultural center, and rightfully so. But there are a lot of forgotten neighborhoods like Yorkshire Woods.”

Laura Herberg

Leah Willis

Leah Willis:

The concept of the new Detroit as being this, now white, acceptable Detroit, to me, only starts the conversation or the mudslide of gentrification, which to me is concerning.”

Bre’Anna Tinsley/WDET

Gabrielle Hawkins

Gabrielle Hawkins:

Hawkins would like to see elected officials spend more time outside downtown.

I think they should actually go to neighborhoods, come in the inner cities, all of the areas that, you know that are marked off as bad because of crime, I think they should actually go to those areas and say well, ‘How could I help you? Or what do you want to see done? Even if you want to help. How can you help us help you?’”

WDET/Laura Herberg

Robert Yahrmatter

Robert Yahrmatter:

Yarhmatter grew up near the intersection of Gratiot Avenue and 6 Mile Road. He says he won’t consider the city fully recovered until more improvements reach that area.

“I think it might happen in my lifetime — you’re seeing it slowly happen — but where I grew up, when that’s back and thriving and good things are happening out there in the neighborhoods, then Detroit’s back.”


To listen to all of these voters, click on the audio player at the top of this post. You can read and listen to the perspectives of dozens of voters in Detroit here.

Image credit: WDET Digital

This post is a part of Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

The DJC is a partnership of six media outlets focused on telling critical stories of Detroit and creating engagement opportunities on-air, online and in the community. View the partners work at

Support for this project comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Renaissance Journalism’s Michigan Reporting Initiative and the Ford Foundation.



This post is a part of 2017 Local Elections: How’s metro Detroit doing?.

This series includes WDET's coverage of candidates' in local elections -- including Detroit's mayoral, clerk and council races.

This post is a part of How's Detroit Doing?.

With voices, data, news, and experiences, WDET is answering the question "How's Detroit Doing?" Find a collection of responses at If you have a question about how Detroit's doing, ask it here.

Support for WDET's work with The Detroit Journalism Cooperative comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Renaissance Journalism’s Michigan Reporting Initiative and the Ford Foundation.



About the Author

Bre'Anna Tinsley

News Reporter

Frequently covers local government and community beats   Follow @Bre_Tin

Laura Herberg

Community Reporter

Through sound-rich storytelling, Herberg covers stories about the people inhabiting the metro Detroit region and the issues that affect them. Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter 2018 and 2017.

Follow @HerbergRadio

Ziad Buchh

Special Projects Intern

Ziad Buchh is a Michigan-based reporter.

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