At Large: Janee Ayers, Brenda Jones, Beverly Kindle-Walker, Mary D. Waters

he At Large candidates represent all districts of Detroit. In this race, Detroit Council President Brenda Jones will square off against Beverly Kindle-Walker, a former legislative assistant, and Mary Waters, an instructor for ATS Educational Consulting services. BLAC chatted with the At-Large candidates to discuss the challenges facing Detroit.


Janee Ayers

Age: 35

Education background: Renaissance High School; Bowling Green State University, Full Academic Scholarship, BA Political Science and Government, 2003


Bio: Ayers grew up in Detroit, the daughter of a retired Detroit Public School teacher. After college and while working at MGM Casino, she joined her union, UNITE HERE!, and became recording secretary and the youngest member of the bargaining team and a vice-president of the Metro-Detroit AFL-CIO. She was appointed to council in 2015, and won election in 2016.

On why voters should choose her…

As a lifelong Detroiter and former Vice President of the Metro AFL-CIO and Recording Secretary of UNITE HERE!, representing and negotiating contracts for thousands of working families and Detroiters, I understand the challenges facing everyday citizens. Whether connecting residents to services, answering questions about city operations, or helping navigate the city bureaucracy, I make responsiveness and service a priority in my office. As well, have worked to legislate with integrity. This means learning the issues, staying informed, seeking diverse opinions, and balancing considerations. Above all, it means making decisions that keep the best interests of Detroit in mind.  This is why I ask Detroiters for their vote, once again.

On the most pressing issue facing the city of Detroit…

Sustained population growth is a key issue facing Detroit into the future.  Consequently, we must address the historic and substantial barriers to population growth like insurance rates (both auto and homeowners) that make living in the city comparatively and unfairly expensive compared to neighboring suburbs; our struggling public school system; and the lack of truly regional transit that keeps Detroiters from having access to economic, social and educational opportunities outside the city.

On an issue specific to her district and how she plans to address it…

I represent the entire city in my At-Large seat on Council.


Brenda Jones

Age: 50-something

Education background: Cass Technical HS; B.A., Psychology, Wayne State University; Certificate, Wayne State University Labor Studies Program

Bio: Council President Jones represents honest, transparent and accountable political leadership and has been called “The Citizen’s Voice.” Moving to Detroit as a child in 1967, Jones has resided in several city neighborhoods. In her leadership journey, she has been president of her block club and CWA Local 4004. She sits on several executive boards, such as the Financial Review Commission, DEGC, DTC, Michigan Municipal League and others. Jones chairs the city’s Skilled Trades and Military Veterans Task Forces and hosts events, town halls and listening sessions for constituents.

On why voters should choose her…

I am the presently longest serving Council member and Detroiters have chosen me to represent them at-large for the last 12 years. In the previous election in 2013, I received the most votes of all candidates running, besides the City Clerk. This primary, voters awarded me with the top votes of ALL candidates running. My platform has always been my name, JONES: Jobs, Opportunities, Neighborhoods, Education and Safety. My biggest strength is the fact that I spend much of my time listening to constituent issues and suggestions, while connecting them to solutions — so much, that I have become known as “The Citizen’s Voice.” I will always strive to live up to that honor by promoting transparency, honesty and accountability in everything I do.

On the most pressing issue facing the city of Detroit…

Our city struggles with transition and change after a historic bankruptcy, which freed up immediate cash, but left us with some long term liabilities that were under-calculated, as well as salary cuts and reduced or lost benefits for city employees and first-responders. As many new residents and businesses are being attracted to our city, long-time Detroiters who lived through the hard times and feel they are funding the rebirth are also feeling displaced and neglected, especially many in our neighborhoods. We struggle to identify, train, employ and engage Detroit’s workforce to meet the needs of our growth industries. This can help to reduce the crime, poverty and the apathy that many of my constituents have voiced concerns about. Our educational outlook is promising, but recent data indicates we have a long way to go. Still, with all the issues we face, there is no place like Detroit. Our grit, determination and resourcefulness is the reason our motto proudly proclaims that ” it will arise from the ashes.”

On an issue specific to her district and how she plans to address it…

Since I am elected “at-large,” my district is the entire city. As each district is unique, each one has its individual strengths and challenges. In all districts, homeowners and businesses struggle to reduce blight and ensure their property values rise. Districts along the 8 Mile border have seen a growth of medical marijuana dispensaries and are dealing with their impact on the neighborhoods, schools, churches and other businesses. Many suffer from high unemployment as residents strive to participate in Detroit’s rebirth. Downtown and midtown districts are working to manage the area’s transition, as many new residents and businesses are finding space or setting up shop. Southwest Detroit is dealing with many environmental issues and expansion, as much of the district has heavy industrial areas and serves as Detroit’s international gateway. They are looking to restore their identity as a once vibrant industrial, commercial and residential area.


Beverly Kindle-Walker

Age: 63

Education background: Martin Luther King, Jr. Senior H.S.; Bachelors degree, Community Development, Central Michigan University; Masters degree, Pubic Administration, Central Michigan University

Bio: Kindle-Walker is a former legislative assistant to Detroit City Council Members Brenda M. Scott and Clyde Cleveland. She sits on several boards, has provided risk management oversight, inter-governmental relationship, has worked as an elected precinct delegate (20 years), and is a licensed missionary. She is also a wife and mother.

On why voters should choose her…

With a solid record of public service, I have the commitment, fortitude and experience necessary to help right the errant ship of legislative government in our city. I have held positions in city and county government for over a dozen of years in both the executive and legislative branches. I will work diligently for the citizens of Detroit for the best outcomes for the people.

On the most pressing issue facing the city of Detroit…

The Detroit Land Bank Authority has too much authority! Also the lack of a comprehensive, citywide housing strategy is a problem.

On an issue specific to her district and how she plans to address it…

Poverty, public safety, under-employment and high insurance rates for vehicles and homes are major issues facing Detroit.


Mary D. Waters

Age: not provided

Education background: Northern High School; and earned an accounting certification from the Detroit Business Institute prior to graduating from the University of Michigan with a B.A. Degree.

Bio: Waters is a breast cancer survivor and president of Sisters Network Greater Metropolitan Detroit Chapter. She was elected by the citizens of Detroit to serve as State Representative for the 4th District for three consecutive terms. Mary became the 1st African American female floor leader in Michigan’s history. She worked hard to ensure that people got jobs, access to better health care, and affordable housing.   

On why voters should choose her…

I bring several years of experience representing Detroit on local and state levels as a volunteer and an elected official. I maintained a perfect attendance record during my three terms as State Representative understanding the vital importance of ‘being present’ when decisions were voted on that impacted our quality of life. That experience is why I know how to fight for state dollars for Detroit.

I’ve always been a fighter for the people and my public service record is one of honor and integrity.  If elected to serve, I will continue to put the people first.  I will fight for affordable housing, utilities and dependable city services.  I will work to ensure that there is a strong community benefit agreement in place and I will not give away our hard- earned tax dollars to billionaires without a return for the citizens.  No more rubber-stamping & blank checks.

On the most pressing issue facing the city of Detroit…

Neighborhood Safety and Economic Development. Too many citizens are subject to disruption and violence in their communities; abandoned buildings are serious risks for our youth who have to walk pass these structures to go to school.  Our neighborhoods deserve a rapid response from all emergency and supportive city services. We must always strive to improve our ability to help each other.  Detroit is an amazing metropolis, historically rich in economic and social achievement.  We attract people from all ethnic groups and cultures. Ultimately most people are hoping for an opportunity to achieve their goals, create alliances and enjoy their lives.  Working together, I believe we can be that kind of community.

It is heart wrenching to talk to people who are losing their homes due to exorbitant utility, tax and insurance rates simply because they reside within the city boundaries.  In addition to creating and implementing plans that help our citizens keep up with the high cost of living we must also create and develop opportunities for families to improve their conditions.  Plans could include startup dollars and entrepreneurial training for supporting small business development.  Ideally government should include the people and we must encourage participation from the people who live in the community.  Working together we can continue to build our communities with distinct flavor while employing people in those neighborhoods. There must be a culture of inclusivity created by those who would lead Detroit.  How can we buy into the malarkey that Detroit is a comeback city when eighty-four percent (84%) of our children live in abject poverty?  For example, I will work to improve inhumane living conditions confronting single mothers in Detroit.  Single mothers should be a priority for job training and educational opportunities coupled with safe day care facilities funded by those receiving corporate welfare for stadiums and the like.

Want to read what the candidates in each district had to say? Head back to the main election page.

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