Detroit city councilwoman concerned residents being left behind during city's comeback

Mary Sheffield works to make sure Detroiters prosper as city makes comeback


DETROIT – There's little doubt that the city of Detroit is on the comeback trail, but one city council member believes residents are still getting left behind economically in the process.

Detroit City Council President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield doesn't believe the city is serious about making sure residents reap the benefits of the city's expansion. She is proposing six ordinances to put more teeth into efforts to help Detroiters prosper as the city does.

"It is of the utmost importance that we ensure economic opportunity for Detroit residents and that Detroit residents play an active role and are able to financially benefit from the city's revitalization," Sheffield said.

Sheffield held a rally Monday morning outside city hall, where she pointed out the city has ordinances for things such as community benefits, where new construction includes the concerns of the neighborhood and requires employing Detroiters.

She believes it doesn't go far enough, particularly when it comes to having majority Detroiter construction workers and contractors.

"It is critical that Detroit residents are given priority for the new jobs that are being created through publicly funded contracts," Sheffield said.

TO that end, she intends to propose an ordinance that will require all projects using city funds of any kind have 51 percent Detroiter participation.

Right now, contractors get fined for not meeting the threshold. Mayor Mike Duggan's administration admires the sentiment but said there's reality to consider.

Sheffield will propose a handful of other ordinances she's calling the "People's Bills." One of the other issues she wants to tackle is income-based water bills, believing the city's poorest people shouldn't have to pay their water bills. She said she believes water is a human right.

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