District 5: Mary Sheffield vs. Jewel Ware

istrict 5 (Mack, East Grand Boulevard) hopeful Jewel Ware challenges incumbent Mary Sheffield. Sheffield is a seasoned politician and Ware is the current Wayne County Commissioner for District 2. BLAC chatted with both candidates to discuss the challenges facing Detroit and their district.


Mary Sheffield

Age: 30

Education Background: Wayne State University (B.A. in Public Affairs); Central Michigan University (M.S. in Public Administration)


Bio: Sheffield is the current city councilwoman for District 5, elected in 2013, the youngest ever chosen. In addition to serving on multiple committees, she is a member of the Detroit Association of Black Organizations and a youth coordinator of the Detroit Ecumenical Ministers Alliance. Sheffield mentors young, at-risk girls and since being elected to office has been committed to attracting new residents while remaining dedicated to Detroit’s most loyal citizens. 

On why voters should choose her…

My political values and philosophies place all the power with people. I am a firm believer that as an elected official, I work for the citizens of Detroit and every decision I make must be in the best interest of those I have been elected to serve. Thus, my political values and philosophy influence the actions and ordinances I pursue in an effort to improve the lives of the residents of District 5 and Detroit as a whole. Therefore, I believe Detroiters should support me for re-election.

On the most pressing issue facing the city of Detroit…

The most pressing issue facing the city of Detroit is the extreme poverty a significant number of our residents are experiencing. The by-products of the socio-economic conditions in our community are crime, joblessness, and drug use and activity. As a city and as elected officials we must be very intentional about investing in our most precious assets – our residents. This means education, opportunities for training and access to jobs must be enhanced to ensure a future for all Detroiters.

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

A specific concern in my district and throughout the city of Detroit is the lack of quality affordable housing and access to funding for home repairs. I have made it my personal mission to address these concerns and have sponsored an Inclusionary Housing Ordinance, which creates a Housing Trust Fund, and I have fought to secure $2.5 million in home repair grants for seniors since taking office. All of these efforts, with the support of my colleagues, will ultimately help avoid the pitfalls of revitalization such as gentrification.


Jewel Ware

Age: 62

Education Background: University of Detroit

Bio: Ware is currently the Wayne County Commissioner for District 2, originally elected in 1994, and elected as chairwoman in 2003. While in office, she has saved the Wayne County Commission approximately $1 million annually and been an advocate for seniors and children, and supported health care. Ware serves on numerous boards and commissions, including Helping Our Prisoners Elevate and the Michigan Universal Health Care Access Network.

On why voters should choose her…

I am a life-long resident of Detroit, a graduate of the Detroit Public School system and the University of Detroit, where I obtained both a bachelor and master degree, and I’m currently serving as an elected official. Throughout my professional career, I have held various leadership roles, including Chairwoman of the Wayne County Commission. As chairwoman of the Commission, my responsibilities included overseeing the county's $2.14 billion budget, approving contracts, and adopting resolutions and ordinances. During my tenure, the Wayne County Commission became a more effective and efficient legislative body, ultimately saving approximately $1 million annually. I have a proven track record of success and listening to my constituents’ needs. 

On the most pressing issue facing the city of Detroit…

I have listened to the outcry of Detroit residents and here are a few pressing issues that I want to tackle as a council member: 

1. Neighborhood Restoration – Restoring our neighborhoods by demolishing abandoned homes and eliminating blight. 

2. Lower Auto Insurance – Working with our state legislators and other officials to fight to lower auto insurance rates for Detroiters. 

3. Senior Citizens – Restoring the City of Detroit Office of Senior Citizens, which will be dedicated to providing programming and activities aimed at improving the health, safety and quality of life for older adults in our great city. 

4. Public Safety – Improving public safety by hiring more police and fire personnel. 

5. Jobs & Training Opportunities – Creating good jobs and job training opportunities for Detroiters and the youth. 

6. Reassess Property Taxes – Developing a plan to ensure that our taxes are appropriately reassessed, especially for senior citizens who are most vulnerable to losing their homes to tax foreclosure. 

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

District 5 covers a significant amount of land across the city – spanning from Davidson and Glendale and reaching east past Belle Isle. In this region, the city has yet to fully eradicate abandoned homes and blight – which ultimately affects our home values, quality of life and safety. I intend to address this issue by working closely with the mayor’s office, district managers, neighborhood and community organizations, churches and nearby businesses to identify and prioritize concerns, and then coordinate with the appropriate city department to deliver results. With this coordinated approach, we will make a significant impact on all blight-related issues, including dangerous building demolition, repurposing vacant lots and structurally sound vacant buildings, as well as non-structural blight. 

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

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