Detroit — A grass-roots organization consisting of residents from four large Detroit neighborhoods are calling for candidates running in the Nov. 5 election season to focus on putting children first once they take office.
The resident-led community groups from Osborn, Cody Rouge, Southwest Detroit and Brightmoor said they have distributed more than 25,000 fliers since the spring and collected about 8,000 signatures from residents promising support for a “Children’s Agenda” — a pledge calling for politicians to focus on improvements in education, safety, youth development and jobs.
“For too long, politicians have ignored or overlooked issues affecting children,” said Maria Salinas, an organizer with the Southwest Detroit Congress of Communities. “Our residents want to know what elected officials will do to improve outcomes for our kids.”
The group is asking for Detroit City Council candidates and incumbents as well as mayoral candidates Mike Duggan and Benny Napoleon for their support. The goal is to keep children’s issues in the forefront in the months to come, said Kristen McDonald, vice president of program and policy at the Skillman Foundation in Detroit, which has been working with the community leaders and parents in the neighborhoods.
“Our leaders in our neighborhoods and parents and residents across the city were increasingly frustrated with the lack of conversation about children in this political season,” McDonald said. “We would like to see, first and foremost, that the candidates talk about how to make all the neighborhoods across the city safe for kids. We’re going to hold candidates accountable for the stands they’re taking on these issues.”
Rev. Larry Simmons, pastor of Baber Memorial A.M.E. on the city’s west side, called Thursday for a community meeting after the election involving residents, children and elected leaders.
“We’re asking residents in Detroit to stand with us and to stand up for kids,” Simmons said. “We also call on the mayoral candidates to sit with us sit with our kids, to have a public conversation after the election about what this agenda means and how we can move forward.
Improving neighborhoods is a key component in the campaigns of both Wayne County Sheriff Napoleon and former Detroit Medical Center Chief Executive Duggan.