Perhaps the most mysterious section on Detroit’s November ballot is the one entitled “Charter Revision Commission” — a nine member delegation with the ability to make major changes to the City Charter.
Detroit’s first Charter took effect in 1918 and gave the city its current, strong mayor form of government. While small alterations can be made through amendment, a non-partisan Commission must be appointed to consider anything large scale.
It’s only the fourth time the City Charter has been opened for such a review. The most recent occasion was less than a decade ago, as Detroit was coming out of a major political scandal.
That delegation was successful in changing the rules so that corrupt officials could be outed more easily. What it didn’t do was reset the timetable for when the Charter could be reopened by voters.
Therefore, during the August primary, a ballot question that was scheduled more than 20 years prior asked Detroiters if another revision ought to be conducted. They approved the measure by a margin of just 175 votes.
Now it’s time to elect nine non-partisans to the Charter Revision Commission so that the review can be carried out.
Below you can learn about the 16 candidates running for a seat. There’s also an opportunity to meet with the candidates in person at a Citizen Detroit event on November 1st.
Chase L. Cantrell
“The City Charter is our most important foundational document. As with other legislative enactments, the rules and regulations contained within the Charter are written to prescribe outcomes. We must, therefore, be careful and diligent in selecting who may draft such rules. As the leader of a community-based organization, an attorney in good standing, and an economic development specialist, I am running for the Charter Revision Commission to ensure that the process for proposing revisions and the proposed revisions themselves reflect my commitment to transparency, accessibility, and resident engagement.”
Learn more about Cantrell’s campaign here.
“Having worked for the Detroit City Council during the bankruptcy proceedings, I became especially aware of and deeply involved in the nuance of municipal government. Alongside that, I saw and studied the effects of the former Charter Revision Commission, which included choices that contemplated a pre-bankrupt Detroit and were shaped by one particular administration. The Charter Commission requires forward thinking and passionate individuals. I bring that to Detroiters. Whether it was my work with the City Council, time spent working on immigration policy at the State level, which eventually led me to a graduate degree at Johns Hopkins in Washington DC—or, now, in my current role in technology—where I direct projects designed to increase the mobility of Detroiters and increase digital equity—I have seen the public and private sides of the equation as it relates to the implications of public policy and know those experiences will provide for continuity in decision making around the City Charter.”
Learn more about Dabish’s campaign here.
“Being an effective charter revision commissioner means listening fairly to all views and doing what’s ultimately best for our entire city, instead of going into the process with a set of predetermined views or a rigid agenda. On the Charter Revision Commission, I would listen to all Detroiters and ensure their voices are heard throughout the charter revision process. In addition to multiple community meetings, forums, and house parties, I want to use technology like social media to reach out to Detroiters to ensure EVERYONE has a chance to be heard - from seniors to young people who will shape our city for decades to come.”
Learn more about Davis’s campaign here.
Michael R. Griffie
“A successful outcome for the Charter Review Commission demonstrates a great deal of transparency throughout the process, a high level of community input, and a healthy and productive dialogue over the presented issues. Such a collaborative process will yield a result that creates a more concise Charter, and one that represents the best interests for the City of Detroit. I believe our Charter should be a document that is more straight forward than what we have presently. Furthermore, I believe in an aggressive educational campaign as to the Charter’s function, so that citizens can have meaningful input as the revision process goes along.”
Learn more about Griffie’s campaign here.
“In short, I am running for the Detroit Charter Revision Commission so that I can aide in protecting and defend the rights of all citizens in Detroit. My hope is to increase transparency, strengthen accountability within our city government, and ensure real civic participation in decisions affecting all our neighborhoods by: (1) Strengthening our Police and Community relationships by electing 9 police commissioners. (2) Extending the residency requirements for candidates seeking office in Detroit from one year to four years. (3) Empowering residents through the restoration of citizen district councils. (4) Filling City Council vacancies during a non-election year by most recent election results not appointments.”
Learn more about Harrell’s campaign here.
Denzel Anton McCampbell
“I am a lifelong young Detroiter living on the west side running for the Detroit Charter Revision Commission. The city charter is the governing document for our city. It lays out how our city government works, specifically how Detroit should be working for all of us. I am running to ensure that the revised charter is one that includes everyone and centers the needs of Detroiters who have been historically marginalized and left out of the activity we see today in the city. I’ve dedicated my life to public service working on issues such as voting rights, equitable development, earned paid sick time, police brutality, racial justice, and many other issues rooted in uplifting community and returning power to us. I’ve also worked to elect officials who share a progressive, inclusive view of public service. I am running because we need charter commissioners that are rooted in community and who have the best interests of all Detroiters in mind, especially those most in need.”
Learn more about McCampbell’s campaign here.
“I am a transactional attorney with more than a decade of experience in reviewing contracts and corporate governance documents. I earned a communications degree from the University of Michigan, a law degree from Wayne State University and a Masters in Business Administration from Michigan State University. I am a proud home owner and resident of Brush Park and a Board Member of the Brush Park Community Development Corporation. In this role, I lead efforts such as the preservation and revitalization of Brush Park’s only public park and implementing a residential permit parking program to protect residents from the impact of visitors of nearby attractions. I am also an appointed member of the Neighborhood Advisory Committee for the District Detroit, which advises on community impacts of the Little Caesar’s Arena and related developments. My focus as a Charter Revision Commissioner will be to ensure that there is robust community engagement and to preserve and improve provisions relating to transparency and accountability.”
Learn more about Holmes’s campaign here.
Laura A. Hughes
“I’m a curious learner, change maker, and persuasive leader with high emotional intelligence. I am the Principal and Founder of Gusto Partners, LLC, which specializes in stakeholder and relationship leadership that creates diverse and inclusive environments for iterative learning, social change and leading cross-sector collaboration. Currently, I lead the strategic alignment of corporate and philanthropic partners to layer focused investments to dramatically influence the trajectory of a neighborhood and achieve measurable gains for children and families in the Cody Rouge neighborhood of Detroit. These experiences have prepared me to think about the city’s most important document from many different stakeholders’ perspectives. The charter needs to protect the city’s most vulnerable citizens as well as the growing business community.”
Learn more about Hughes’s campaign here.
“I am currently the Executive Director of a Community based organization called Osborn Neighborhood Alliance. For over 13 years I’ve been working in the community: Engaging residents, mobilization and co-designing. As your next Charter Commission I will work hard to ensure residents’ voices are heard.”
Learn more about Jones’s campaign here.
“As a Union-side labor and civil rights lawyer for the past 20 years, I hope to bring my experience to the Charter Commission, in order to protect and strengthen the people’s voice in City government.”
Learn more about Mack’s campaign here.
“My name is Byron Osbern and I’m running for City Charter Commissioner. I’m a father, husband, community leader, labor leader and a life long Detroiter. I know the importance of having government that works for all of us. The “Home Rule Act” in our state constitution grants Detroit the ability to establish our government on our terms. As a Charter Commissioner, I will work to preserve our interest and ensure that our values are reflected in the amendment and revision process. I will bring the perspective of an ordinary citizen who is looking for balance in our current system as well as a meaningful and inclusive future for the City of Detroit.”
Learn more about Osbern’s campaign here.
“I voted no on Proposal R in the August 2018 primary election because I believed that no general revision need occur at this time. Through the upcoming revision process, I do support strengthening the People’s expressed will in the current charter that the Commission operate under the one person-one vote principle because it affects programs and services involving taxation, services to city residents and actions taken on the city’s behalf. For example: as the Executive Branch (Mayor) creates new models of governance over residents (i.e. Detroit Education Commission) pursuant to his exclusive authority to do so, residents must be able to participate in this process and hold accountable mayoral appointees. A charter revision now means that special projects such as these run the risk of becoming enshrined as full city departments with charter protections. I also support open discussion and voting in lieu of City Council’s current 30 day window to “not disapprove” Executive Branch appointments including but not limited to Board of Police Commissioners, Police Chief and Corporation Counsel.”
Learn more about Peters’s campaign here.
“My name is Nicole Small, candidate for Detroit City Charter Revision Commission. While, I was opposed to revising the City Charter, I knew it was critical to have a majority of commissioners on the Commission that would preserve the interests of the people in the charter. In addition, I want to implement safeguards that replace ambiguous language with clearly defined policies that ensure that Detroiters have credible input on how development and other city assets are negotiated by our local government. Change does not happen without a challenge, and I challenge myself and other Detroiters to support an amended charter that requires government to represent the interest of ‘The People’ over Corporate Welfare.”
Learn more about Small’s campaign here.
“My name is Joanna Underwood. I’m a Political activist and community organizer in the city of Detroit. I focus my advocacy work around affordable housing fighting the foreclosure crisis, affordable water rates. I am Director of the Detroit Black Women’s Council — empowering black women and mothers by providing direct services for low-income mothers and women in the city of Detroit. I’m running for Detroit Charter Commission because I believe in transparency and accountability also proper representation from the neighborhood.”
Learn more about Underwood’s campaign here.
“My name is Carol Weaver and I’m running to be on the Detroit Charter Commission. I’m a lifelong citizen of Detroit and very active in my community. If selected to be on the commission I would work with the unions, community and the City of Detroit to ensure that all are represented.”
Learn more about Weaver’s campaign here.
Barbara Anne Wynder
“My career has been as an urban planner, lawyer and business owner. I have been politically active in the campaigns of Hon. Coleman A. Young, Kenneth V. Cockrel, Sr., Hon. Dennis W. Archer, Garlin Gilchrist as Clerk and now as the Candidate for Lt. Governor. I was also a staffer for the 1974 Charter Revision Commission. I practiced law from 1982 until 2014 both in private practice and the in the Law Department for the City. From 1985 until 2015 with my now deceased sister, I owned and operated a successful janitorial company (White Glove Professional Cleaning, Inc.). I believe the interest of the people will inform me of what should be Revised or Retained in the existing Charter. I support expanding and giving greater power to the Police Commission, looking at the appointment of the attorney to the Ethics Committee, and defining more clearly those areas of ambiguity in the Charter.”
(No further campaign info available as of post)