Detroit City Council District Six is one of the most diverse in the city. About 40 percent of the population is Hispanic, another 40 percent is African American, and the remaining 20 percent is either white or other races. The district encompasses diverse neighborhoods from parts of downtown Detroit to Delray and faces many different issues.
But there is one issue most residents agree needs to be addressed.
“I live in a senior complex. And one of my concerns is the drug dealers that are in my building. They make me feel unsafe,” says Mary Steadman.
“Stray dogs. I live around the corner from my job and I can’t…I can’t walk to work. Too scary out there,” says Veronica Mitchell
Both Steadman and Mitchell are seniors who live in Southwest Detroit. Safety is their main concern.
City Council Candidate Tyrone Carter can attest resident’s worrying about safety. He says it’s the biggest issue for the voters he’s spoken with.
“A lot of my seniors will tell you, the moment the sun goes down, we’re going in the house,” Carter says.
Tyrone Carter was born and raised in Detroit. He’s the former Vice President of the Wayne County Chapter of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, otherwise known as AFSCME.
Carter is also a retired Lieutenant from the Wayne County Sheriff’s office. He says he believes expanding the city’s greenlight video security project could help residents feel safer.
“You will never have enough police officers. Let’s just be clear with that,” Carter says. “But I think technology had given us the opportunity to kind of supplement that in areas.”
Carter says incentives that are given to “Greenlight” businesses can be used to help fund an expansion of the live video program to put more cameras in neighborhoods and in high-risk areas. He also says there are grants the city can apply for to help buy equipment.
But some residents in District Six are concerned with issues other than safety. Like Patricia Tolbert who lives near the Marathon plant in far Southwest Detroit.
“We always have an ongoing issue with Marathon,” Tolbert says. “Out around twelve o’clock, you could just see a big flame and black smoke. And this is like noon time.”
Tolbert says she feels the company often dismisses health concerns from the surrounding community.
Incumbent Councilmember Raquel Castaneda-Lopez says she’s working on city ordinances that would improve the accountability of industries in neighborhoods, such as Marathon.
“We’ve been working on a law for four years around air quality. And that is just now coming to the table. There are other laws that would help with a lot of the pollution as well to create green buffer space,” Castaneda-Lopez says.
Castaneda-Lopez is the current city council member for the District Six. She was also born and raised in the community. She is a member of the Council’s Public, Health and Safety Committee and has more than ten years of experience in social work.
The pollution ordinances proposed by Castaneda-Lopez would increase monitoring of carbon emissions and create a public health fund to be used in neighborhoods that are heavily impacted by pollution.
Castaneda-Lopez says she needs four more years in office to guide more ordinances through to completion.
“Change takes a long time,” she says. “So whereas we made a lot of progress in the last four years. We really need more time to be able to move forward with some of the laws we’ve been working on.”
She touts her ability to secure ten million dollars for job training for Detroit through negotiations for community benefits from the new Gordie Howe Bridge project, as well as starting the first and only mobile council office to assist residents throughout the district.
Castaneda-Lopez says it is important to make sure all District Six residents are heard.
Tyrone Carter agrees.
He says the concerns in one district neighborhood can be vastly different from those elsewhere.
“The needs in Delray are going to be far different from the needs in Woodbridge. So you have to make yourself familiar with the needs of those areas,” Carter says.
One thing both candidates believe is every neighborhood in District Six needs individual attention.
Residents will cast their votes for Detroit City Council on November 7th.