Sharon McPhail considers joining 2021 race for Detroit mayor

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — The top lawyer in former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's administration is contemplating another bid for Detroit's top office.

Sharon McPhail, a former Detroit City Council member and past candidate for Detroit mayor, confirmed to The Detroit News that she picked up petitions Thursday and intends to circulate them to collect signatures.

Sharon McPhail

"I've been asked to consider running. You can't run unless you file petitions," McPhail said. "I need to see if the people of Detroit have had enough."

McPhail said a committee was formed by the community organization Detroiters United to draft her for a run.

"Since Coleman Young left office, we've lost the water department, Belle Isle and gone bankrupt," she added. 

McPhail confirmed she's mulling a campaign just days after former Kilpatrick administration Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams announced he is entering the race to challenge incumbent Mayor Mike Duggan, who is seeking a third term. 

Reginald Amos, a retired fire department deputy chief, said he's been disappointed with every mayor since Coleman A. Young left office. 

"Every mayor after did an injustice to the city and the citizens and knowing Sharon McPhail, her intellect and what she's done for the city and the people over the years, we felt that she would be the best candidate for mayor in 2021 for Detroit," said Amos, president of Detroiters United, which formed as an LLC in 2019. 

He said the group of concerned citizens came together based on a myriad of challenges facing the city. 

"I worked for six mayors in my 37 and a half-year career and every mayor after Coleman Young has been a failure," Amos said. "They missed the boat, they really didn't know what was going on and didn't take the time to learn."

McPhail ran against Kilpatrick in 2004, lost and later became Kilpatrick's general counsel and a vocal defender. 

She left Detroit in 2009. She served on City Council from 2002 through the end of 2005. 

McPhail grabbed headlines in 2003 when she accused Kilpatrick of rigging her electric chair massager to shock her. 

McPhail was fired in 2018 from a Detroit charter school, the same day the school's authorizer appointed a conservator to bring the school into compliance with state law. The Bay Mills Community College Charter School Office said at the time that her employment did not meet accreditation to serve as superintendent.

During her time leading the school, McPhail said she dramatically improved outcomes and graduation rates. She maintains the actions to terminate her were not lawful.

McPhail said she was urged by many people, including her friend, the late Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, to evaluate a run for Detroit mayor in 2021. Napoleon died in December.

"We had a long conversation about it before he left us," she said. "I think about him every day."