istrict 6 (Dix, Fort Street) hopeful Tyrone Carter challenges incumbent Raquel Castaneda-Lopez. Castaneda-Lopez is a seasoned politician and Carter is a retired Wayne County Sheriff’s Office executive lieutenant. BLAC chatted with both candidates to discuss the challenges facing Detroit and their district.
Education Background: Southwestern High School; Central Michigan University; Wayne County Sheriff’s Police Academy; FBI National Academy
Bio: Carter spent 25 years with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office and retired as an Executive Lieutenant in 2008. He also mentors young Detroiters and has worked with the AmeriCorps Urban Safety Summer Youth Program at Wayne State University. Carter is currently president of the Original United Citizens of Southwest Detroit.
On why voters should choose him…
Detroiters and more specifically District 6 voters should choose me because I am the best-qualified candidate in the race. My experience and background has prepared me well for the position. I have over 27 years of professional law enforcement experience; 17 years of those were in leadership positions. During my tenure, I was a union advocate at several levels including the position of Vice-President. As a union official, and as a business owner, I have successfully negotiated contracts, including community benefits. Since my retirement in 2008, I have served as the president of my community organization, and I am a member of several organizations that serve District 6. For the past three summers, I have mentored over 150 Detroiters at promise youth (age 17-24) through the AmeriCorps Urban Safety Program.
On the most pressing issue facing the city of Detroit…
According to the Detroit residents that I speak to when I am out campaigning, the most pressing issue is the lack of safety. Many residents do not feel safe in their communities. The city has taken great strides to address the issue, but we still have a long way to go. There are several ideas and strategies that have worked in other cities, but I would like to investigate Detroit’s current strategies and programs before making any recommendations.
On an issue specific to his district and how he plans to address it…
District 6 has many unique issues that are exclusive to this area, but one that impacts everyone is the environment. Three of the zip codes (including mine) have been identified as having the poorest air quality in the state. I will address these issues through ordinances that are reasonable and attainable without resulting in the loss of employment. Regulations, compliance and a collaborative relationship with the local businesses are my goals.
Education Background: University of Montana (Bachelor of Social Work); University of Michigan (Master of Social Work)
Bio: Castaneda-Lopez is the current city councilwoman for her district, elected in 2013, and the first Latina to serve. She also serves as Vice-Chair of the Budget, Audit and Finance Committee and as a member of the Public Health and Safety Committee. Castaneda-Lopez works to create policies that strengthen the relationship between local government and community organizations.
On why voters should choose her…
I understand how council works. Therefore, I know how to use the council’s powers to get things done. From the budget processes to address zoning issues, to negotiate and attract stronger development deals that directly benefit the community and to bring more resources to every neighborhood so that no community gets left behind – so that everyone benefits.
I know the neighborhoods. I’ve literally walked every single street in the district nearly three times. I have seen and heard the issues each of our diverse communities face: the overgrown alleys and the abandoned houses north of Warren, to the pollution and poor air quality in 48217 and Delray, to the blighted viaducts and truck traffic on the Vernor corridor, to the illegal dumping and drug activity in Chadsey Condon, to the overall lack of support and neglect of the 48204 zip code and Core City neighborhoods. Beyond the struggles they face, there is beauty and hope in each neighborhood. I am continually inspired by each resident I meet, their perseverance and sheer commitment to survive and take care of each other and their willingness to give back and invest in their homes and neighborhoods reminds me of why I serve. You, the people are my motivation and inspiration.
I am committed to preserving the diversity of the district, and I have the experience to have the difficult conversations needed to move our district and city forward. I am the only candidate with the commitment, integrity and work ethic to move our district forward.
On the most pressing issue facing the city of Detroit…
Detroit continues to struggle with diversifying its local economy, investing in building the skill set of its residents and redefining itself as a post-industrial city. The focus continues to be on attracting manufacturing and logistic companies and construction jobs for Detroiters in the Central Business District, which only allows certain parts of the city an economic boom.
We have not invested enough resources in training residents to meet the workforce gaps in the health, education and IT sectors. Neither have we discussed how to fully support the Detroit Public School Community District and supplement the educational services they offer in order to make sure Detroit students are able to enter the workforce. In order to have a qualified workforce, we must move beyond our jurisdictional divides in order to invest in our students and future. If we fail to diversify our economy and to invest in Detroiters in sectors outside of construction, manufacturing and logistics, we will not continue to move forward.
On an issue specific to her district and how she plans to address it…
The diversity of issues within District 6 is its strength and greatest challenge. Within District 6, there are neighborhoods experiencing major redevelopment such as in Midtown, Downtown and Corktown, while others still struggle with trash pickup. There are neighborhoods that are home to some of the poorest and least educated residents in the city and others where the wealthiest and most educated Detroiters live. There is a very high concentration of children under 18 in certain zip codes and a high concentration of super seniors in others. The disparity of service delivery, investment and development between neighborhoods is also stark. Each community’s needs are unique yet many face similar challenges in terms of feeling excluded in the city’s revitalization.
My office has worked to push the conversation forward around community benefits, equitable development and investment in neighborhoods not slated for investment or in the plans. We have worked to build broader coalitions in neighborhoods with little community infrastructure and to train residents on how to navigate city processes in order to advocate for themselves. We are heavily involved in projects that require a community benefits agreement to ensure all residents feel included in the process. To address the disparity that exists, as part of our neighborhood capacity work, we train and connect neighborhood leaders from across the district to share best practices, create their own community plans and attract new development. In addition, we coordinate District 6 tours that are for and by the residents as a way to build solidarity across geographic, economic and racial divides and to advocate for improved services.
If re-elected, I will continue to push for more investment in neighborhood capacity building and community organizing focused on working with residents to plan their own neighborhoods. My vision is that all neighborhoods in the district would directly benefit from development deals regardless of where they are located. Like the rest of Detroit, I would love for every neighborhood to be clean, prosperous and safe. My hope would be to work with developers and the DEGC to invest in neighborhoods not currently being targeted by the planning department, via some sort of community impact fund. The funds could then be used to generate economic development in struggling areas, remove blight and invest in neighborhood planning efforts.
Want to read what the candidates in the other districts had to say? Head back to the main election page.