Detroit City Councilman Gabe Leland was first elected to Detroit City Council in 2013 when he was 31 and re-elected in 2017. He represents the City’s 7th District which includes the Warrendale, Grandale and Cody-Rouge neighborhoods. He joined WDET’s Russ McNamara to discuss development in his neighborhood, fixing blight - and his own legal troubles.
Click the player above to hear the full interview with Detroit City Councilman Gabe Leland and read edited excerpts below.
On current projects in his district
Lately the focus has been on projects like Chrysler and some of these larger developments that are happening downtown. We’ve partnered with DTE Energy who built a 10-acre solar array at the old O’Shea park space. It’s been a great project as far as engagement with residents and teaching our young people about solar energy.
On young people being engaged in their community
There’s a youth organization that emerged out of the Cody-Rouge neighborhood. And they’re at every planning and development meeting. If you talk to some of the young people, they’re just so fired up about the future of their community.
On Mayor Mike Duggan’s plan to tear down houses and address blight
I’m just not there yet - I’m having conversations with neighbors in my community about rehabilitation and rehabbing some of these homes. Clearly, for Detroiters it’s all about equity. For those who have stayed, we should help them in every way. Many people know that I’ve been supportive of property tax foreclosure programs. Blight removal shouldn’t be about demolition, but how can we put resources into programs, into projects where residents feel that there’s equity there.
The mayor has spoken openly about some missteps with his staff and he’s taken those issues seriously. He’s talking about doing some staff training and we’ll see where that goes.
On his indictment on federal bribery charges and if that’s hurt his ability to represent people in District 7
My attorney has told me not to speak about the investigation. In fact, he told me he was not going to represent me if I talked openly about it and I hope you would respect the same. But just, in general, I’m going out, I am continuing my job and I am fighting hard for the residents in District 7. This has not affected me in my work. There was a recall campaign - and that went nowhere and that kinda speaks loudly for where residents are in District 7. I am continuing to work as hard as I possibly can and will continue to do so as long as I am able.