08/05/2012 05:18 pm ET Updated Oct 05, 2012

Making Detroit a World-Class City Again

My top priority is making Detroit a world-class city again. As state representative in the 4th district, I will work to achieve this goal by urging our state to invest in infrastructure, education and our neighborhoods.


Detroit needs to update its infrastructure to compete on the national and international stage. We have been a leader in cutting edge infrastructure for the majority of our history dating back to the original port of Detroit, the robust street car system built at the turn of the 20th century, and the advent of cars and freeways. Reliable infrastructure is essential to the rebirth of Detroit. Current infrastructure investment must begin with a regional mass transit system that provides reliable service from the edges of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw County. Our reputation as the Motor City notwithstanding, a large number of residents are without an automobile. Mass transit options are needed to give our citizens a safe way to travel to work, school, and doctor's visits. Sales taxes collected from gas purchases can be specifically allocated to fund these improvements.


I strongly believe it is a city's duty to educate its children and prepare them to become productive citizens. Our city's public school system is full of stories of success. For example, my siblings, wife and I are all proud and successful graduates of the Detroit Public School system. However, the current state of our schools has left too many of our children by the wayside. My goal is to make the Detroit and Hamtramck Public School System among the best in the nation. School curriculum must include diverse subject matters to prepare our students for the rapidly changing world market. I firmly believe entrepreneurship should be taught in the schools along with skilled trades and the arts. The educational curriculum must prioritize innovation and transitioning ideas into industry.


In order to see positive change in the city of Detroit, each of us needs to invest in and take ownership for our own neighborhood. We have seen tremendous growth and improvement in Detroit's downtown, midtown, and Corktown areas. It is now time for us to develop a real vision for the Detroit neighborhoods where our citizens live. By extending our vision, investment, and development to our neighborhoods, Detroit can once again become a place where you want to live work, and raise a family. This extension, however, requires the work of you and I.

Detroit has a rich tradition of strong neighborhoods led by active homeowners. Communities like East English Village, Boston Edison and Virginia Park are a few of the many examples of districts where community members have banded together to cultivate and protect their neighborhoods. As children, we used to ride our bicycles through these neighborhoods, laying claim to the homes we planned to own as adults. Many children these days, however, are riding their bikes through neighborhood blocks that remind us more of the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, than Detroit's famed Paradise Valley.

Today, we have the opportunity to change the views of our children and the world-at-large by investing in Detroit's neighborhoods. We must develop a clear vision for each neighborhood that promotes the uniqueness of each community and the spirit of ownership. Communities like the Cass Corridor, Corktown and the Eastern Market all decided to rebrand themselves and work a vision-informed plan. They have seen tremendous growth for their efforts, because home and business owners alike banded together to be the change they wanted to see in their neighborhood.

Similarly, we must all take back the pride in our communities, starting with small actions such as picking up trash in your neighborhood or mowing the lawn of the vacant house on your block. These small actions can trigger others to do better and be better. If we want better neighborhoods, we must take responsibility for our own blocks, neighborhoods, districts and all lend a helping hand. One of my first acts as a homeowner was to regain control of my street corner which had become a haven for illegal activity. I took responsibility for patrolling my corner in the evenings to communicate that kind of business was not welcomed here. Through this diligence, we were eventually able to bring control of the corner back to the neighbors who lived there. When a neighbor mentioned he had always wanted to jog but did not know whether it was safe, we began a jogging club. We have to be a visible presence in our neighborhood in order to give the message that we have not given up and our neighborhoods are not vacant. If each of us takes ownership for our own neighborhood, positive change will spread like wildfire, transforming our city into a haven for young families, aging grandparents, entrepreneurs and established business owners alike. To ignite this rebirth, what will you do today to improve your neighborhood?