District 7: Gabe Leland vs. Regina Ross

omprised of Detroit's west side, District 7 (Warren, Joy Road) incumbent Gabe Leland will be challenged by Regina Ross. Leland is a seasoned politician and Ross is currently serving as the program director for Wayne State University and for Detroit Public Schools. BLAC chatted with both candidates to discuss the challenges facing Detroit and their district. 


Gabe Leland

Age: 34

Education Background: Central Michigan University (Public Administration with a focus in Community Development)


Bio: Leland is the current city council member, elected in 2013. He served as a House Representative from 2004 until 2010, during such time, Leland worked on the M-1 Rail legislation, brought important infrastructure dollars to Detroit, helped homeowners avoid foreclosure and created the Leland Scholarship Fund.  He also chaired the House Committee on Urban Policy. 

On why voters should choose him…

Based on my experience in government I have an ability to advocate for a wide variety of constituency groups. Government can sometimes be very daunting to navigate. Residents need advocates. It is the foundation of my core values and I work everyday to make this city better for the taxpayer. I also understand the needs of District 7 and there are many projects that I’ve launched that are geared towards helping people in need. One such program called “Defend Our Neighbors” has helped thousands of our fellow residents avoid tax foreclosure and stay in their homes. I will continue fighting every single day for the people of my district and do all I can to make Detroit a better place to live, work, raise a family and retire!

On the most pressing issue facing the city of Detroit…

No city can be great if its residents aren’t employed with good paying jobs. I have worked hard everyday over the last four years on creating opportunities for Detroiters who want to work. My district, like many others, has business corridors that have fallen on hard times. I will be working on a community engagement model that involves economic development strategies around planning grants in targeted areas that need help. These communities desperately need economic strategies to help bring them back on line. The goal is to be intentional about hiring Detroit residents right in the neighborhood, where transportation and other barriers to employment are a non-factor.

On an issue specific to his district and how he plans to address it…

My district isn’t seeing as much redevelopment compared to other areas of the city and while it’s important to acknowledge that some developments just don’t belong in certain neighborhoods, we also have to recognize that the city needs a plan to get certain neighborhoods some kind of the attention that they so desperately deserve.

One possible solution: when developers get support from the city through tax abatements or below market land sales for their projects, the city should bundle other blighted properties in certain underserved areas of the city that developers would be responsible for developing, to help make those areas prosper.


Regina Ross

Age: 49

Education Background: Wayne State University (Bachelor of Arts; Master of Administration/Instructional Tech and of Education)

Bio: Ross is the current community council member for District 7. She is also the director of Keri Korner Community Group as well as the program director for Wayne State University and for Detroit Public Schools. Ross is dedicated to education and community service. 

On why voters should choose her…

Detroit’s should vote for me because I bring an array of experiences: Director of Keri Korner Community Group; Program Director for Wayne State University and for Detroit Public Schools; Program Coordinator; Educator (years of teaching and community service work); community council member for District 7. I am a leader and fighter for Detroiters. For years, I have represented members of the Detroit Federation of Teachers. My experience includes three degrees from Wayne State University; a Bachelor of Arts, a Master’s in Administration/Instructional Tech and a second Master’s in Education. Detroiters should choose me for city council in District 7 because I will represent the people fairly. As a city council person, I will revitalize housing by demolishing houses that are beyond repair, including those damaged by fire and repair houses that can be brought back to life.

On the most pressing issue facing the city of Detroit…

The most pressing issue facing the city of Detroit is public safety. Most people want to be in a safe environment. With Detroit being a larger city, more crimes tend to occur.  As an elected member of Detroit’s Community Council, I have been working on obtaining the public’s safety through developing a community policing plan. This plan will be developed with officials, community groups, block clubs and the community advisory council.  Also, with the green light ordinance in Detroit, some crime has reduced in the city. With citizen involvement, we should also see a decrease in crime.

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

A specific issue to District 7 is the underutilization of Rouge Park.  It’s the largest park in Detroit.  If elected, this issue can be resolved with making a general capital improvement priority. One day, I would like to have Rouge Park be compared to New York’s Central Park. Our Rouge Park is a place where family outings are a priority.  Developing the park will strengthen areas that might be on the verge of losing population; also, it can boost a stronger neighborhood around the park. The golf course should be refurbished and updated, along with the bicycle path and archery range. My hope is that the upgrade will encourage visitors from various states and countries. Our district certainly could use some addition beautification of many of our neighborhoods, new businesses, community centers and shopping centers.

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

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