Oneita Jackson is running as a write-in candidate for an at-large seat on the Detroit City Council. But she’d rather not be.
“That I’m running shows a failure of leadership,” Jackson says of the current council, especially when it comes to city buses.
“I’m here to challenge the status quo with what I am known for — my big mouth.” —Oneita Jackson, write-in candidate for Detroit City Council
The writer says she decided to run for council because the city’s leaders are not addressing problems with transit.
“I was thinking about all the complaints I have filed with DDOT,” Jackson says. “I was on the bus. And I’m like, ‘let me go get these petitions.’”
Jackson came to Detroit in 2001. Before that, she had lived and used public transit in New York, Washington, D.C., and Dayton, Ohio. She says those systems work better than Detroit and wonders why.
“I don’t understand why we have this purported great city but we cannot commit to the people who need the public transportation to get around,” she says. “Who’s caring about the least of these?”
Jackson frequently records her trips on DDOT buses and shares them on her Facebook page. She says she’s had a lot of good experiences with the service but is not shy about sharing complaints. Jackson says the city has yet to respond to any of hers.
“I’ve tried to do the right thing,” she says. “I’ve been waiting. And waiting. And waiting. It’s offensive.”
Jackson says problems with DDOT won’t get fixed until city leaders start talking about them. She’s disappointed that Mayor Mike Duggan did not mention public transportation in his State of the City addresses in 2019 or 2020. She urged him and other officials to see the problems for themselves.
“The mayor and council need to get on the buses — not as a ploy, not with news cameras — and see what it’s like,” she says. “Don’t announce your presence, just get on the buses and ride them.”
If elected, Jackson says she would talk about public transportation relentlessly.
“I’m here to challenge the status quo with what I am known for — my big mouth,” she says. “I haven’t paid attention to anyone else’s campaign, but if they’re all about great DDOT, then I will sit down because I’d rather be writing.”
Jackson was a copy editor, columnist and blogger at the Detroit Free Press for 11 years. Her “O Street” column ran in the newspaper for three years. She has also written two books, “Nappy-Headed Negro Syndrome” and “Letters From Mrs. Grundy.”
Listen: Why Oneita Jackson is running for Detroit City Council.