Detroit Will Elect a Commission to Revise Its Charter… Again

Jake Neher/WDET

Sheila Cockrel (left) and Jenice Mitchell Ford (right)

There are a lot of high-profile races and questions on the November ballot. But one local question is flying largely under the radar, even though it has the potential to alter the way Michigan’s largest city operates for years to come.

In August, Detroit voters approved re-opening the city’s current charter, which was just put in place in 2012. In November, voters will choose the members of that charter commission.

There are a lot of candidates running for this new commission. How should we as voters educate ourselves on those candidates and wrap our heads around the issues surrounding this move to change Detroit’s city charter?

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks with two people who are knowledgeable about the charter, its creation, and this year’s elections related to the issue.

Jenice Mitchell Ford was the chairwoman of the Detroit Charter Revision Commission the last time the charter was opened between 2009 and 2012.

Many people, I have heard, feel like it’s not really time for a revision yet, and that things can be accomplished via amendment,” says Mitchell Ford. “So, if there are things to be tweaked, and, of course, there are, then you can tweak them with an amendment and not bear the expense of a charter revision commission.”

She says this revision process will likely cost Detroit taxpayers $1.25 million. She notes the current charter has already been amended four times already.

Henderson also speaks with Sheila Cockrel, executive director and co-founder of Citizen Detroit, which works to educate residents of Detroit on civic issues and provide resources they need to be fully engaged in the democratic life of the city. Cockrel is also a former member of Detroit’s city council. 

There are a number of candidates who don’t really think there’s a big need” to start from scratch with a new charter, as opposed to simply amending it.

On November 1st, Citizen Detroit will hold a charter revision commission candidate speed dating event and is preparing a workbook on the charter.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

This post is a part of 2018 Elections in Michigan.

On November 6, Michigan voters will decide who will be the state's new governor, attorney general and secretary of state. Some state House and Senate seats are up for grabs, and numerous initiatives are expected on ballots.

WDET is committed to providing honest, fair, inclusive coverage of Michigan's 2018 elections. Join us now and all the way to the voting booth to be an informed voter.


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Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.  

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