Detroit — Voters on Detroit’s east side will decide Nov. 7 whether to retain Councilman Andre Spivey or have the head of a neighborhood nonprofit take over.
Spivey, 43, is touting his institutional knowledge and efforts to fight for District 4 residents in his bid for a third four-year term. Challenger Latisha Johnson said she’s relying on her lifelong roots in the district and a decade of community organizing experience to try to win over voters.
Spivey spearheaded the city’s task force on economic development and inclusion, and an ordinance that required surveillance cameras for gas stations. He also has proposed legislation to toughen requirements for landlords and offer protections for neighborhood housing.
Both candidates agree that more job training, tax foreclosure prevention and recreation opportunities are needed in the district that borders Grosse Pointe and the Detroit River.
In the August primary, Spivey won 59 percent of the vote, followed by Johnson at 25 percent.
Spivey, a pastor for St. Paul AME Church, is in his eighth year on council. In 2013, voters selected council members by district for the first time in nearly 100 years.
There have been kinks to work out along the way, he said, but the goal is to ensure every neighborhood across the district “has the same quality and attention.”
“You can’t satisfy every citizen, you never will,” Spivey said. “I’m working hard on their behalf here, downtown and in the district.”
Among his efforts, Spivey said his office has organized foreclosure prevention sessions and workshops for Detroit businesses seeking to bid on city projects.
Spivey also noted District 4 is the only one in Detroit without a recreation center for its youth and seniors and that it’s badly needed.
His office, he said, has identified an area for a center near Chandler Park and has had discussions with foundations and the private sector about kicking in money.
Johnson, 42, a longtime resident of the East English Village neighborhood, also wants to ensure job training programs are provided for residents and is advocating for partnerships with organizations and institutions to get recreation centers back online in the district. She also believes the city can find room in its budget to help.
Her platform centers on attacking blight, improving opportunities for seniors and youth and being accessible.
The founder of MECCA Development Corporation, a nonprofit neighborhood coalition for the city’s far east side, said she’s “standing with the voice of the people.”
“My focus on the campaign is really just being out and connecting with residents in every possible way that I can,” she said.
In her community, Johnson has spearheaded efforts to hold financial institutions accountable for run down properties in the neighborhood.
Johnson, who chairs the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals, has a degree in finance and background in public relations, event planning and sales.
“People are ready for someone who is going to represent their best interest,” she said.