Detroit teacher looks to unseat Councilman Leland

Nicquel Terry
The Detroit News

Councilman Gabe Leland is seeking re-election this November against a Detroit Public Schools Community District teacher who runs a nonprofit that was once honored by Oprah Winfrey.

Regina Ross, 49, is looking to unseat Leland, who is finishing up his first term on Detroit City Council.

Leland won the August primary with 59 percent of the vote while Ross earned 24.6 percent.

Ross declined to comment on Leland’s performance on council, but said safety, blight and unemployment were major concerns in District 7.

“I feel that perhaps enough has not been done for us to note the changes in District 7,” Ross said.

Ross cited the new development — such as housing— in downtown, Midtown and Corktown and said she wanted to see it spread to her neighborhood.

Leland, 35, said in the last four years his office has worked to help neighborhood block clubs expand and get access to resources.

The first-term councilman said he has been engaged with district residents, responding to several complaints earlier this year by backing an ordinance that banned front porch grilling in Detroit.

Leland also chairs the city’s Disability Task Force, which focuses on equality in transportation, jobs and housing for disabled residents. Leland took credit for the section in the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance that requires developers to build residential units that comply with the American Disabilities Act.

The former state representative and son of Wayne County Commissioner Burton Leland said he needs another term on council to accomplish more goals, such as capturing city grants for revamping commercial corridors in the Warrendale and Russell Woods neighborhoods.

“I have experienced a track record of constituent service,” Leland said. “I love the community I represent unconditionally, and I think the residents feel a lot of attention.”

Both Ross and Leland have said the district could benefit from a major grocery store or a family restaurant.

Ross said she wants to clean up blight in District 7 and hopes to partner with major companies in Detroit who can donate resources for beautifying the neighborhoods.

Ross, an early childhood teacher, sits on a Community Advisory Council for District 7 where she is charged with offering input on community issues to Leland and other council members.

She was instrumental in launching the advisory council by circulating a petition to get the group approved.

Ross also sits on the executive board of the 13th Congressional Democratic Party, is director of Keri’s Korner Community Group — which distributes food and clothing to families and earned accolades from Winfrey in 2010 — and is a member of Arise Detroit and the FarWest Community Association.

She said her work experience, including being a program director for Wayne State University, has given her financial and administrative skills that could benefit the council. She said she is equipped to handle contracts, sales and city litigation.

“I’m running because I want to make positive changes in the city of Detroit,” Ross said. “I just feel that I can get a lot done.”

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