Detroit Declaration

Declare Detroit at the polls on August 5!
July 1, 2014, 11:31 pm
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Declare a brighter Detroit future by voting for candidates who support the principles of the Detroit Declaration. Download & share the flyer below with our endorsements for the 2014 Primary Election on August 5, 2014. To contribute to our PAC, visit For news & updates, follow us on Facebook.


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Declare Detroit on November 5!
October 22, 2013, 4:06 pm
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Join us in supporting our slate of City Council district candidates & Mayor for the November 5 election! Please share our Declare Detroit slate card with friends & neighbors:


Wanna support new leadership at City Hall? Come on out to Park Bar Detroit for a special pre-election rally & fundraiser on Tuesday, October 29, 5:30pm to meet the candidates and watch the final mayoral debate.

To donate to the PAC, click here. For info & updates, click here.

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Declare Detroit: 2013 Primary Election Slate
August 5, 2013, 9:34 pm
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Don’t forget to vote on Tuesday, August 6! To find your polling place, click here.


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Declare Detroit: Council by District 2013
June 26, 2013, 6:23 am
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This November, for the first time in nearly 100 years, Detroiters will elect their City Council from defined districts. This is a historic moment to declare a new era of leadership at City Hall.

Led by a Steering Team of engaged residents and backed by 15,000+ supporters, Declare Detroit has committed to working to elect progressive leaders who will be accountable to the communities they serve, as well as the city at large.

Today we announce our support for a slate of nine Detroit City Council candidates — seven district and two at-large — for the 2013 election.

This is the first time Declare Detroit is backing candidates with financial support, through a new Political Action Committee (PAC) formed as a vehicle to support promising future leaders who are committed to moving Detroit forward, guided by the principles of the Detroit Declaration.

Last year, we launched a citywide effort to identify the best and brightest candidates, soliciting nominations from community leaders, neighborhood organizations, residents and supporters. The resulting Council slate represents the most promising, progressive candidates in this year’s race:

  • District 1 – James Tate (Website)

  • District 2 – Rick Bowers (Website)

  • District 3 – Scott Benson (Website)

  • District 4 – Khalil Ligon (Website)

  • District 5 – Adam Hollier (Website)

  • District 6 – Vince Keenan (Website)

  • District 7 – Dustin Campbell (Website)

  • At Large – Saunteel Jenkins (Website)

  • At Large – Roy McCalister (Website)

We encourage all Detroit Declaration signers and supporters to learn more about these candidates and lend volunteer support to their campaigns. Short bios provided below.

Candidates will receive support in the form of community outreach and financial contributions from the Declare Detroit PAC. To donate to the PAC, click here.

Key Dates

  • PAC Fundraiser – Tuesday, July 16, 2013, 7 pm, Library Street Collective
  • Primary Election – Tuesday, August 6, 2013
  • General Election – Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Candidate Bios

District 1 – James Tate (Website)

An incumbent of City Council, and the only to run in a district race, James Tate  has been a steady voice on council over the last four years. Tate is lifelong Detroiter and worked at the Detroit Police Department before leaving his post as 2nd Deputy Chief and Public Information Officer to run for City Council in 2009. A resident of Rosedale Park, Tate has worked hard to champion youth programs, including mentoring young men in his neighborhood, and co-founding “C2Y” Cops Caring for Youth, where off-duty officers mentor at-risk youth. Tate was an early adopter of the district model and held the first official leadership meeting in District 1 last year.

District 2 – Rick Bowers (Website)

While he has extensive experience working at City Council, this is Rick Bowers’ first political campaign. An attorney by training, Bowers worked for many years with then Council President Kenneth Cockrel, where he helped launch the city’s Green Task Force, promoting green initiatives in the city. Bowers then worked for both council members Brenda Jones and James Tate as chief of policy. A graduate of Leadership Detroit and a supporter of the arts, Bowers is active as a volunteer for community projects in District 2. As a Council member, he will focus on the redevelopment of Palmer Park and the Livernois commercial corridor as a way to strengthen the district’s neighborhoods.

District 3 – Scott Benson (Website)

Scott Benson is a longtime resident of Detroit, and recently worked as the manager of small business development at Midtown Detroit, Inc. Before that, Benson obtained his Masters of Urban Planning from Wayne State University, and has served twenty-two years on active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard. Benson is actively involved in his Osborn neighborhood on Detroit’s northeast side, and has worked for nearly 20 years on various community development projects with Osborn Neighborhood Alliance and other groups throughout the city. As a Council member, Benson will focus his efforts on creatively addressing blight and small business development along commercial corridors in District 3.

District 4 – Khalil Ligon (Website)

A lifelong Detroiter and Eastsider, Khalil Ligon graduated from Kalamazoo College and has a Masters of Urban Planning from Wayne State University. Ligon has worked in the private, public and nonprofit sectors, ranging from business management, economic development, to social work and grant research & writing. Ligon has made a name for herself with her city planning work, developing an award-winning redevelopment plan for the City of Jackson, and most recently, managing the Lower Eastside Action Plan (LEAP), a critically-acclaimed grassroots, multi-sector collaborative community planning project in Detroit exploring viable solutions for vacant land adaptation.

District 5 – Adam Hollier (Website)

With experience in both Detroit and Lansing, as Chief of Staff to Representative Bert Johnson, and as the Mayor’s Liaison to City Council, Adam Hollier has a breadth of political knowledge. Hollier is a born and bred Detroiter; a graduate of Renaissance High School, Cornell University and University of Michigan; and a resident of Arden Park in District 5, possibly the most geographically varied of all the districts. Hollier is especially passionate about advocating for three issues — providing effective mass transit, creating careers through small business development and entrepreneurship, and ensuring affordable, accessible education for all residents.

District 6 – Vince Keenan (Website)

A Detroit native and founder of, a non-partisan, non-profit organization founded in 1996 to promote civic participation, Vince Keenan has distinguished himself in public service, with this campaign as his first run for political office. A graduate of University of Michigan, Keenan has been a longtime advocate for voter education and good government, and was a key member of Detroiters for Council by Districts, the ballot initiative that changed the way Detroit City Council is elected. A resident of Corktown and active in efforts to organize that neighborhood’s business community, Keenan is excited to bring innovation and best practice to City Council.

District 7 – Dustin Campbell (Website)

Dustin Campbell was born and raised in District 7, located on Detroit’s far west side. A graduate of University of Detroit-Mercy, Campbell worked for over a decade in a variety of community and government capacities at the State of Michigan, serving Senator Irma Clark Coleman, among others. Campbell is head coach of the Michigan Panthers, and board member of its affiliated service organization, which offers youth mentorship and a wide range of educational programming. Campbell is also an active member of the Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance, which is committed to assisting families by strengthening block clubs, creating community safety plans, and pursuing high quality education.

At Large – Saunteel Jenkins (Website)

Saunteel Jenkins is one of two incumbents endorsed by Declare Detroit. A lifelong Detroiter and trained social worker, Jenkins was elected to council in 2009 after directing the residential treatment program at Mariners Inn for nearly seven years. Before that, Jenkins worked in a variety of capacities, from family therapy to development director of a privately held educational delivery service. Jenkins longest stint was as Chief of Staff to then Council President Maryann Mahaffey, where she got solid experience working in local government and serving Detroiters.

At Large – Roy McCalister (Website)

Roy McCalister is a lifelong Detroiter, and is currently an investigator with Legal Aide at the Federal Defenders Office. A retired commanding officer at the Detroit Police Department, McCalister spent many years getting to know Detroit and Detroiters, and says he wants to restore vision and trust at Detroit City Council. McCalister is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and University of Oklahoma, as well as Michigan State University’s Michigan Political Leadership Program, and is active in a number of community organizations in District 2.

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About the Detroit Declaration

Drafted in 2010, the Detroit Declaration outlines twelve principles for a more prosperous city and region. The document calls all citizens to advocate for leaders and policies that promote a greater, healthier, more vibrant and livable city, with core values including: quality of place, sustainability, economic diversity, transportation alternatives, government accountability, and regional thinking. (For the full Declaration text, read here.)

About the PAC

The Political Action Committee was established as a vehicle to support candidates who are committed to moving Detroit forward, guided by the principles of the Detroit Declaration. In 2013, the PAC chose to focus its resources on the 2013 Detroit City Council election, identifying promising community-based leaders in every district. (To donate to the PAC, click here.)

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Endorse Your Candidate
May 20, 2013, 8:44 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


Declare Detroit seeks your input on electing progressive, community-based leadership this year. We’re hungry for leaders who will put problem-solving above rhetoric and hold themselves accountable to residents first.

Part of our leadership ethos is to be transparent with our endorsement process. Below, you can see the objectives and criteria we have set to support a city-wide slate of council district seats, at large candidates and Mayoral endorsements.

Please read the criteria and then fill out this Declare Detroit Endorsement Form to help us know who you’re supporting in this years primary elections.

NOTE: All Endorsements are DUE BY MIDNIGHT, MONDAY, MAY 27.

Together, we can make a decisive difference in the 2013 Detroit Primary.

Thank you!

* * * * * *


Declare Detroit wants to identify, encourage and support the best leaders possible for the city council by district races. While Declare Detroit will endorse in every race this year, and offer a full slate of candidates, we are most eager to support candidates in the council by district races.

To be effective, our candidates should bridge the values and principles of the Detroit Declaration, carry the confidence of other community-based leaders in their districts, and demonstrate the competence, disposition and grit required to execute a viable campaign and steward complex decision making and collaboration skills once in office.

Finally, candidates must be accountable on behalf of their districts, and able to integrate city-wide challenges and long-term solutions into their district agenda.


  • Alignment with and support of Detroit Declaration Principles
  • Prior leadership experience
  • Local support — who else has endorsed/supports candidate
  • Professional support — how community based groups and organizations have evaluated the candidate
  • Soft Skills — How the candidate would work with the council, the district (residents, businesses and organizations), the Mayor, Detroit Future City, the Emergency Manager, among others
  • Candidate’s overall understanding of the job and the ability to link district needs with city-wide progress
  • Ability to win — campaign fundraising, competency, energy, determination, competition
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Declare a New Era at Detroit City Hall
May 6, 2013, 4:27 pm
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The election filing deadline is Tuesday, May 14. Who will be the most promising City Council candidates on the ballot this November? Join us to build support for the best & brightest future leaders. Click here for event info.



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Declare Detroit, Vote Detroit
March 16, 2013, 7:56 pm
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Register to Vote

“It strikes me that the best way to protest the state’s intervention (and to make a strong point about city government’s dysfunction, to boot) is to do things that make the need for state help less dire. Show how dedicated Detroiters, working together, can actually make things better. Take control of the city’s trajectory. Make a difference.” -Stephen Henderson, Detroit Free Press

On Thursday, March 14, 2013, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder introduced Kevyn Orr as Detroit’s new Emergency Financial Manager. For the next 18 months, he is charged with getting Detroit’s finances in order.

During this time, it is vital that Detroit citizens remain engaged to move Detroit forward. It’s an election year, and we have a great responsibility and opportunity to ensure our future leaders have the vision and will to forge a brighter future.

If you care about defending democracy, here are 5 proactive things you can do:

* * * * *

1. Register to Vote in Detroit: If you live in the city, we need you to vote in the city. If you live here but have been voting elsewhere, today is a good day to make the switch. Click here to learn how.

2. Get Out the Vote in Detroit: As Rochelle Riley reminded us in her March 15 Free Press column, we can preach and protest about democracy, but when it comes time to vote in Detroit, only one out of four of us actually does. We need YOU and all your friends & neighbors to be at the polls on August 6 & November 5. Go ahead and mark those dates on your calendar now.

3. Help Us Identify Candidates: Showing up on Election Day is only half the battle; we need to make sure we have strong leaders on the ballot from which to choose. If you know someone running for City Council in your district who supports the principles of the Detroit Declaration and needs support, let us know.

4. Volunteer for Candidates: Getting good leaders elected doesn’t happen magically. Candidates need our help to knock doors, make calls and raise dollars to win. Commit to offering your time to a promising City Council candidate in your district.

5. Donate to our PAC: We’re raising funds to support promising, solution-oriented future leaders who will represent the best interests of the people of Detroit. Whether you can give $13 or $313, we need your help. Donate today.

* * * * *

“Detroit is struggling, but what are we doing? Fighting about a democracy that some of us care about only when it’s convenient — or when the cameras are rolling. Oh, we can make speeches about it. We can preach about it. But when it’s time to vote, one out of four people actually does. And when an entire city is in dire straits, do you pull out civics guides and a history of American democracy? Or do you solve the problem?” -Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press

Now more than ever, you can help us solve the problem by declaring Detroit through continued civic engagement and political action. Together, we can make a difference.

Stay connected by following us on Facebook for news & updates.

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