Detroiters share priorities, concerns ahead of Mayor Duggan's 8th State of the City

Posted at 8:51 AM, Mar 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-10 12:34:35-05

Tuesday at 7 p.m., Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan will deliver his eighth State of the City address.

Breaking from tradition, Duggan will deliver this year's address virtually due to COVID-19.

In the past twelve months, Detroit has battled not only a deadly virus but historic unemployment and social unrest, as has the rest of the state. However the pandemic hit Detroit especially hard, claiming more than 1,800 lives thus far.

Early on in the pandemic, cases in Detroit led elsewhere in the state. At one point the City of Detroit was considered to be one of a handful of "hot-spots" in the nation.

We asked Detroiters what's on their mind when it comes to the city's recovery and what questions they hope Mayor Duggan answers for them Tuesday night.

“We need our jobs back," said Detroit resident Shatia Floyd.

The city is still crawling back from the financial slump of the pandemic, which isn't over yet. Not only did the past year lead to many businesses closing in the Motor City, it also led to the temporary closure of Detroit's three casinos, which bring in millions in taxes for the city.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows at one point last spring, unemployment in Detroit neared 40 percent at one point (39.4 percent in May 2020). As of December, it hovered around 20 percent (20.3), still more than double the state's average for that same time (8.2 percent).

Prior to the pandemic, the city's unemployment rate was around 10 percent.

In light of the economic fallout from the pandemic, Pro Tem City Council member for district five Mary Sheffield wants to make sure city leadership stays financially disciplined but doesn't skimp on social programs.

“How do we still make our major commitment to our retirees, how do we continue to invest in issues like affordable housing? Right to council for individuals who might be experiencing evictions?" Sheffield said.

The Mayor unveiled his 2021-2022 budget to City Council for the first time last week.

“What we hear is a lot of what we don’t want. Let’s get rid of blight, let’s reduce crime which are great things and great initiatives but in the pursuit of what?" Asked district six Council Member Raquel Castañeda-Lopez.

“I really want us to shift scarcity mindset of you know we have to be fiscally responsible because we don’t want to end up in financial oversight again. And all of these things we want to prevent from happening, I would love to hear what is it that we’re working towards," she said.

Both Sheffield and Castañeda-Lopez praised the city's response to the virus from a public health standpoint; Sheffield noting the effectiveness of early rapid testing by the city, the city-wide testing site at the old State Fairgrounds, and the mass vaccination site at TCF Center.

Castañeda-Lopez said the "Senior Saturdays" at churches in Detroit has been effective in vaccinating seniors in her district, and that she's hoping to get additional locations in her district.

Detroit Vega Wimmer, who received her vaccinations at TCF Center, was also impressed by the city's efforts when it comes to vaccines.

“It was absolutely flawless," she said.

Wimmer, like several of Channel 7 viewers online, hopes Mayor Duggan addresses his plans to boost neighborhood development in the city; not just downtown.

Channel 7 viewer David Bollerud posted on our Facebook page he'd like to see improvement in Detroit's forgotten neighborhoods, adding that he thinks the downtown area and New Center get enough attention.

Proposal N - which allows the city to sell $250 Million in neighborhood improvement bonds to fix up 8,000 homes and tear down another 8,000 to remove blight, passed handily in November.

But, as Castañeda-Lopez explains, the process is only just beginning; the city just approved its first round of contracts last week.

"Something we pushed for a lot in the negotiations was to roll out neighborhood planning studies for the communities that would be the most impacted by the removal blight so that we know before all the houses are gone, what’s next," she said. "I think we’re at the beginning of that conversation but I think it’s really key to follow closely for every neighborhood to follow closely."

The district six council member also said she hopes police reform and more neighborhood public safety is reflected in the Mayor's budget plans.

"We saw the massive civil uprising last year after George Floyd's murder. We’ve heard a lot of Chief Craig and from Corporation Council but we really haven’t heard so much from Mayor Duggan about what is his vision for really reforming the police department to ensure there’s greater accountability? To make sure that people are treated equitably," she said.

Mayor Duggan will speak virtually Tuesday at 7 p.m. You can stream the State of the City on the Channel 7 Facebook page or online at