Detroit City Council District 4 August 3 Primary Candidate Guide

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Image credit: Meta Stange/WDET

Get to know the candidates running for Detroit City Council for District 4 in the August 3 primary election.

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The August 3 primary is fast approaching. Get to know the candidates running for local office in your community with 101.9 FM WDET’s Candidate Guides. Surveys were distributed to candidates to complete and you can see the responses for candidates for Detroit City Council for District 4 below.

See a full list of races covered here.


Related Races: MayorCity Council - At Large


Jump to a candidate:
Toson Jewell Knight
M.L. Elrick
Andemashaun Boman
Virgil Smith
Latisha Johnson
Ken Snapp
Daivon Reeder


Courtesy of Toson Knight
Courtesy of Toson Knight

Toson Jewell Knight

Age: 34

Current job: Dean of Students for Detroit Public Schools and Founder and President of Caught Up Mentoring

About Toson Jewell Knight: Like many young men, I struggled in high school and found myself running with the wrong crowd leading me to self-destruction. Thankfully, I had a mentor to set me on the right path. I have a B.A. from Oakwood University and a M.A. from the University of Michigan. My story could have ended very differently, but I was lucky to have a mentor guide me to success when others had written me off. I am now a mentor myself and am the founder and president of Caught Up, a non-profit that mentors young men in Detroit. I wanted to “stand in the gap” for others like someone did for me. Through Caught Up, I’ve mentored hundreds of young men that have graduated from college and are now productive citizens giving back to their community. I worked for Mayor Mike Duggan’s office as District Manager for Detroit District 4; serving the community and solving problems. I currently serve as Dean of Students at Western International High School. These experiences taught me how to be an effective public servant. I am dedicated to working with the community and helping resolve their issues to help make positive changes in their everyday lives.

Why are you running for Detroit City Council? I am running for Detroit City Council because I am a problem solver and want to see my community flourish. Voters should support me because I am a dedicated and passionate public servant that sees his position as a service to the community. I can and will be an effective city councilman for District 4. I want my office to be a one-stop shop for community members to find solutions to problems and where we proactively address systemic issues to improve residents’ quality of life. I have served this community as deputy district manager where I addressed concerns and solved issues. I want to serve this community as a council member where I make decisions on a broader scale. I have the experience and I am passionate and ready to serve.

Voters should support me because I am a dedicated and passionate public servant that sees his position as a service to the community. I can and will be an effective city councilman for District 4.” — Toson Jewell Knight

What is the most important issue facing Detroit? The most important issue facing my district is the thousands of homeowners whose homes were recently flooded two weeks ago. Many people have experienced this flooding on several occasions.

How would you address that issue? I believe the city must determine what is causing the flooding. From my research it says that Detroit needs to separate its combined water and sewer systems which could cost around $17 billion. We need to work with our neighboring cities, the State of Michigan and the Federal government to fill this funding gap. It is not acceptable for any more resident basements to flood.

What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? As a City Council member I will be accessible to my residents.vThese type of questions are difficult to answer because I do not have all of the facts in front of me for each decision that was made. Let me be clear, for each major decision that I make at the table, it will be communicated to the residents my reasoning.


Michael J. Shore
Michael J. Shore

Michael Elrick

Age: 53

Current job: Journalist

Education: Michigan State University, BA in Journalism

About M.L. Elrick: My wife and I have lived on East Outer Drive for more than 22 years, and we raised our two daughters here in East English Village. I am a Pulitzer Prize and Emmy Award winning investigative reporter who has covered politics at the local, state and national level for nearly 30 years. I am a union organizer and neighborhood activist, a youth sports coach, school commission member and street representative for my neighborhood association. I am also a volunteer fundraiser and a charity sporting event I created has raised more than $125,000 for Detroit children. I am a creative problem solver dedicated to helping residents and businesses as well as community, religious and labor organizations. My goal is to make sure that the same attention and opportunities available downtown and in Midtown are available to the neighborhoods (in my case, the East Side), while improving safety for residents, workers and visitors and holding developers and public officials accountable for their actions.

My goal is to make sure that the same attention and opportunities available downtown and in Midtown are available to the neighborhoods (in my case, the East Side), while improving safety for residents, workers and visitors and holding developers and public officials accountable for their actions.” — M.L. Elrick

Why are you running for Detroit City Council? I am the only person in Detroit politics who exposed the criminality of Gabe Leland and called for his resignation. And he is not the first corrupt public official I exposed and helped remove from public office. I am creative problem solver who builds strategic partnerships to get things done. I am a watchdog who knows how government works and who demands excellence from everyone who draws a public paycheck. And I am a fearless truth teller. My priorities are: Opportunity and equity; safety; and accountability. I will work to make sure the neighborhoods receive the same opportunity to take advantage of the benefits and incentives provided to downtown and the stadium district while holding developers responsible for living up to their end of the deals they make with the city. I will work to increase the number of speed humps installed to slow speeding on residential streets as well as work for reform of the police department to emphasize training officers as guardians rather than warriors, improve officer pay and retention, diversify the job classifications in the police department to include social workers, therapists and specialists trained in de-escalation and building relationships of mutual trust with residents.

What is the most important issue facing Detroit? Creating opportunity in the neighborhoods.

How would you address that issue? By working with city, county, state and federal officials, financial institutions, foundations, non-profits, charities, churches, neighborhood associations, block clubs and businesses to eliminate blight, help homeowners obtain the funds they need to improve their homes, expand recreational opportunities and assist entrepreneurs trying to open small businesses in our commercial districts.

What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? I was appalled that NO ONE in city hall called for Gabe Leland to resign after I exposed his criminal behavior.


Courtesy of Andemashaun Bomani
Courtesy of Andemashaun Bomani

Andemashaun Bomani

Age: 70

Current job: Substitute teacher

Education: Bachelor’s from Michigan State University

About Toson Andemashaun Bomani: I am Detroit born and raised, graduating from Finney high School. I was a policy analyst and community liaison for the former Council member Kwame Kenyatta for 6 years. I have been community/ organizer for over 30 years and Executive Director of the Heritage Youth program. I have a been member of the Detroit Affordable Housing Task Force since 2019 and a Fellow right now through the national housing justice organization ”Community Change”  I have been a retired Licensed Social Worker for 30 over years, working with the mentally challenged, youth and seniors.

Why are you running for Detroit City Council? The District 4 residents and community issues have been ignored for 8 years. District 4 deserves the right person to WORK on all their concerns and issues! I’m the right candidate running who will work only for the residents living in District 4!!

What is the most important issue facing Detroit? Seniors and residents are concerned about crime and safety in the neighborhoods. Environmental Racism is a serious health issue for the residents of the 4th District.

How would you address that issue? I will restore citizens patrols in Detroit and District 4, working closely with the police. I will work with Wayne County and the State of Michigan Enviromental Department to improve the air quality complaints.

I will locate funding to rehab and reopen Recreation Centers to develop more activities for the young adults, teens, youths, and our senior citizens.  These centers could  house a police mini station, provide job training and access to technology.

What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? The refusal to deal with the $600 [sic] over taxation, the lack of affordable housing, the slow response to the flooding issue and not restoring the recreation in the last 8 years, even they were promised to be open by the administration. The increase and enforcement of a Community Benefits Agreement with corporations like Fiat-Chrysler.


Virgil Smith

Candidate did not respond to survey request. 


Courtesy of Latisha Johnson
Courtesy of Latisha Johnson

Latisha Johnson

Age: 45

Current job: Acting (unpaid) Executive Director, MECCA Development Corporation

Education: Graduate of Kettering High School, University of Michigan BBA-Finance

About Latisha Johnson: I am a proud native Detroiter who has been serving the city of Detroit for more than 20 years. First, marketing the city to visitors (with the DMCVB) and attracting millions of dollars into the local economy during one of the more distressed times in Detroit’s history. Then in 2007, I began working directly with neighbors. I was elected to the Executive Board of the East English Village (EEV) Neighborhood Association where I spent seven years helping to strengthen and rebuild the far eastside neighborhood. In 2014, I founded the grassroots non-profit MECCA Development Corporation. With development in Detroit on the rise, it was critical that every resident’s voice be heard. For the past seven years, I have partnered with residents to address concerns of well-being, workforce development, youth engagement, and neighborhood revitalization. My leadership has led to the implementation of the Community Closet free store, skill-building programs, and the revitalization of two homes to begin creating affordable housing in the area as we discuss the development of a Community Land Trust.

Why are you running for Detroit City Council? Because after 14 years of listening to and addressing the needs of the community, I am qualified and prepared to assist on a greater scale. I will utilize my lived experiences of growing up in poverty in Detroit, the experience I received on the Board of Zoning Appeals for the city of Detroit, my finance degree and my community experience to continue addressing the needs of the community. I have led with compassion, empathy and integrity and will continue to do so.

I will utilize my lived experiences of growing up in poverty in Detroit, the experience I received on the Board of Zoning Appeals for the city of Detroit, my finance degree and my community experience to continue addressing the needs of the community.” — Latisha Johnson

What is the most important issue facing Detroit? Equitable development

How would you address that issue? Develop community centers where we can provide skill building programs throughout the city to prepare residents for employment. I will also work to provide support to small businesses and ensure that our neighborhood commercial corridors are engaging with the community and hiring from the community. Lastly, I will create programs that encourage and support owner occupancy and quality, affordable housing throughout our neighborhoods.

What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? Detroit Land Bank Authority auctions without a focus on stabilizing our neighborhoods by supporting owner-occupancy. The Insurance initiative to allow reductions in PIP without significant premium reductions. Implementation of facial recognition technology. Prioritizing demolitions instead of rehabilitation of homes. The watered down Community Benefits Ordinance. Supporting the hiring of a law firm to counter sue Detroit Will Breath activists.


Courtesy of Ken Snap
Courtesy of Ken Snap

Ken Snapp

Age: 25

Current job: Former Wayne County Sheriff Deputy

Education: College 

About Toson Ken Snap:  The Detroit Cass Tech Alum was the youngest person in history to run for Mayor of the City of Detroit in 2017. Now in 2021, Ken looks to become historically the youngest to be elected to City Council. 

It’s not about age, but it’s about building a bridge of multigenerational leadership to ensure a bright future for the city of Detroit.” 

Ken is a proud Alum of Cass Tech H.S

Ken has lived in Cornerstone community his whole life. 

As a former educator in Detroit Public Schools, he taught and mentored thousands of children in the City of Detroit. 

Ken has protected us a Wayne County Sheriff Deputy.

Ken is the head basketball coach at Ronald Brown Academy and Davis Aerospace H.S.  

Ken Snapp is the only nationally endorsed candidate.

Why are you running for Detroit City Council? Ken has continuously provided leadership for his community, and has stood firmly when others dropped the ball. Ken is running because it’s time to ensure equitable change across the board for every citizen. He wants to access to social goods and justice across the city. 

Ken is running because it’s time to ensure equitable change across the board for every citizen.” — Ken Snapp

What is the most important issue facing Detroit? The most pressing issue Detroit faces is that 40% of Detroiters live in poverty. Detroit is also the most segregated city in the country and the disparities are evident in the quality of life and opportunities afforded to our residents. We have to provide access to basic social goods. We must give citizens access to social goods so that we may start to build equity inside marginalized communities. Housing, food, education, health, and jobs are major pillars in the fight for social goods.

How would you address that issue? Once elected, I will prioritize money from the ARP towards employing citizens through public works, transportation funding, affordable housing, blight removal, reducing digital divide, assistance for home ownership, and educational/recreational centers. The money has been allocated but it has not yet been spent.

What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? I believe there are a lot of misconceptions with the current administration in regards to demo. Moneys were misallocated and prices of demolition rose significantly after the Bing administration. The process of contract bidding was not done properly, I feel that there was a huge lack of transparency with the citizens. These actions by the current administration concern me.


Courtesy of Daivon Reeder
Courtesy of Daivon Reeder

Daivon Reeder

Age: 26

Current job: Grant Coordinator at Urban Neighborhood Initiatives

Education: Bachelor in Criminal Justice from Eastern Michigan University

About Daivon Reeder: Daivon Reeder is a community servant, proud Detroit native, and non-profit founder. Daivon served for 7 years in the United States Army and has been commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. Upon the completion of his military career, he chose to return to his hometown to help make a difference.

Daivon has lived a life of selflessness and made it his duty to provide opportunities for young people throughout Detroit. He is especially passionate about opening the door for young people throughout District 4 as he sees a little bit of himself in them. His return to Detroit was inspired by the love he has for his city and the families he connected with while teaching. In his tenure, he has promoted the importance of attending college, becoming successful, and returning home to open the door for the next generation. 

Daivon is focused on advocating for equitable housing for Detroiters, rebuilding our workforce and economy, enhancing public safety, and achieving environmental and climate justice across Detroit. Daivon will make sure that ALL Detroiters are included when making changes across Detroit.

Why are you running for Detroit City Council? I am running for Detroit City Council because I have experienced the issues that Detroiters face, I have seen Detroiters being left out of the changes and development that has come into our city, and I want to be the solution-oriented leader that the residents of District 4 need. I am running for the future of Detroit. I am running to create a Detroit that is safe for my younger siblings and my nephew. The residents of District 4 deserve to have someone representing the things that they care about most. The best person to represent the community is someone from the community, who has seen and experienced the same things that the residents of District 4 are facing. As a resident of District 4 since birth, I have seen the district through different lenses and phases of my life and experienced everything that my neighbors are experiencing. I am committed to making not only the far eastside of Detroit a stronger community but the entire city of Detroit. I will fight for Detroiters to be a part of the development and progress in our neighborhoods, that we have often been left out of. I am a strong advocate for providing access to homeownership for all residents of the far east side. I am a solution-oriented leader and I am ready to tackle the issues throughout District 4 with realistic solutions.

The residents of District 4 deserve to have someone representing the things that they care about most. The best person to represent the community is someone from the community, who has seen and experienced the same things that the residents of District 4 are facing.” — Daivon Reeder

What is the most important issue facing Detroit? One of the most important issues facing Detroit is the citizens not being included in decisions being made across the city. By not including residents in these important decisions, we have created more issues, because we are not directly addressing the needs of our residents.

How would you address that issue? I would address this issue by hosting weekly meetings to connect with residents across District 4 to ensure that we hear and address all of the needs of community members. As City Council members, we are here to serve the residents and I will ensure that we do just that. I will make sure that everyone is heard, not just those with status throughout Detroit. I will ensure that every resident of Detroit knows that they will not be forgotten about or excluded when I am serving.

What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? Over the past 7 years, there have only been a few city council decisions that I have disagreed with. One of them being the decision to invest more money into facial recognition technology that has shown to have a bias against Black and brown people, a majority of Detroit’s population. In addition to that, I did not agree with the decision to approve the Clark Hill contract as it related to the Black Lives Matter lawsuit over the past summer. Residents of Detroit have a right to free speech and deserve to have that right protected. As it relates to older decisions, I didn’t agree with the decisions made in 2014 to increase the water rates, even though so many residents had delinquent accounts and faced water shutoffs. There have been actions done to remedy this and I am hopeful that moving forward, we will be able to ensure that the residents of Detroit have access to clean and safe water, as it is a basic human necessity.

One of the biggest mayoral agenda items that I have disagreed with is how the Detroit Land Bank has operated over the past few years under the direction of the mayor. There have been numerous complaints of discriminatory practices, which are technically allowed by the landbank, made by Detroit residents who want to invest in their neighborhoods. In addition to that, the deadlines, processes, and hurdles that are put in place on homes individuals buy are oftentimes unrealistic and put the residents at risk of losing the homes and that property going right back to the landbank. Another issue that I have had an issue with is the development that is occurring throughout the city of Detroit living out the inner-city communities and native Detroiters. I am hopeful that moving forward we will have the opportunity to fix these problems and ensure success for the residents of Detroit. In addition to that, I believe that the funds allocated to Detroit from the federal government should have allocated more to address more of the issues that residents across Detroit have voiced.

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