Incumbent James Tate faces three challengers in race for Detroit council seat

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — A police commissioner, youth advocate and community activist are making a bid to unseat longtime Councilman James Tate, who is seeking a fourth term as the representative for the city's northwest side.

Tate is being challenged by retired Detroit firefighter and district police commission member Darryl Brown; youth development director and political newcomer Krystal Larsosa; and nonprofit leader Quincy Coleman in the Aug. 3 race for Detroit's District 1. 

Candidates for Detroit's District 1 council seat include James Tate, Krystal Larsosa, Darryl Brown and Quincy Coleman.

With the recent resignation of indicted District 7 Councilman Gabe Leland and three other members — president Brenda Jones and council members Andre Spivey and Raquel Castaneda-Lopez — not seeking new terms, Tate, if he prevails, will become the council's longest-serving member. 

District 1 includes the city's Stoepel Park and nearly 70 active associations and block clubs in communities ranging from Brightmoor to Grandmont-Rosedale and Old Redford.

Contenders for District 1 

Tate, a North Rosedale Park resident, was first elected in November 2009 and served on the council through Detroit's financial crisis and after the city's 2014 exit from bankruptcy. He's drafted high-profile ordinances for the city, including controversial regulations for the operation of recreational and medical marijuana facilities.

In November 2017, he sailed to victory over activist Tamara Smith, earning 71% of the vote.

Tate, 46, said in his 2021 campaign he's drawing on the reputation he's built with the community. The most pressing issue facing the city, he said, is lifting more Detroiters out of poverty and ensuring residents have access to not just jobs but mental health and transportation services and other basic needs. 

Addressing blight, boosting homeownership and crafting a vacant land strategy in the city's Brightmoor neighborhood will be a key focus of the next term, he added. 

"I am proud to say that Detroit is in a much better condition today than it was when I

was first elected 12 years ago, but still pervasive, generational poverty exists in too many families who have not been able to share in the city’s progression over the years," he said. 

Brown, a Wayne County Sheriff's Office reserve and retired firefighter, currently serves the district as an elected member of Detroit's Board of Police Commissioners.

The 56-year-old has lived in Rosedale Park for two decades and works as a system supervisor for DTE Energy. He belongs to the Rosedale Park Improvement Association board, is a block club captain and member of the community's radio patrol.

His priorities are transparency and police reforms, crime, poverty and the environment as well as residential development. 

"I am uniquely qualified because of my service as the police commissioner for District 1, a Detroit firefighter, community service, my skilled trades experience and I am a part owner of four commercial properties on the Grand River corridor and I am vested in this community," said Brown, a past candidate for the council and Detroit's Charter Revision Commission. 

Larsosa, a youth advocate with a background in criminal justice, said she wants to tackle the challenges of the district, including steep car insurance premiums that make it difficult for Detroiters to legally drive outside the city to jobs. 

The Eastern Michigan University graduate has worked on juvenile justice in churches and Detroit Public Schools Community District and said she intends to make policy and budgetary decisions that give residents of the district preference. 

Larsosa, 40, said as Detroit determines spending priorities for more than $800 million in federal coronavirus relief aid, she wants to be at the table to ensure resources are allocated appropriately and equitably.

"My goals are to promote safety, cleanliness and economic prosperity in the neighborhoods by increasing homeownership, supporting the growth and development of locally owned businesses, and engaging young people in new initiatives that make our neighborhoods clean and safe," said Larsosa.

Coleman,27, a precinct delegate for District 1, is a lifelong resident of the district who currently resides in Rosedale Park.

The entrepreneur and community activist said he founded the nonprofit the Hereafter Community Development Group in 2017 as a means of bettering the community. 

Coleman said gentrification is the biggest issue facing the city and if he's elected, he intends to work with the community and those seeking to invest in Detroit to ensure the revitalization is equitable.

"District 1 needs new leadership, and I feel a responsibility to step up," he said. "I have been frustrated with the disproportionate distribution of funding, development and resources in Detroit, and I would like the opportunity to make a change."

Twitter: @SarahRahal_