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October 17, 2013 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-10-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Jews won't decide Detroit's mayoral election
but they will be affected by the results.

Daniel Cherrin I Special to the Jewish News

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

Although not many Jews will be vot-
ing, the election is still important to the
region's Jewish community.
"For the past 30 years, Detroit's lead-
ers have largely failed their constituents:'
said Gabe Neistein, alumni relations
director for Tamarack Camps and a
resident of Detroit's
Midtown. "Living in
Detroit, I take a lot of
pride in not only liv-
ing in the city during a
time of resurgence, but
also in having a say as
to which leaders will
Gabe Neistein
help keep us moving
forward:'
Moving forward and beyond an emer-
gency manager is each candidate's goal.
"I understand that we succeed and fail
as a region," Napoleon said. "Right now,
Detroit is failing, which is one of the rea-
sons our region is divided. We will work
to transform Detroit so we can come
to the table as equal partners with the
region and seek regional solutions to our
issues — together:'
Mayoral candidate Mike Duggan, for-
mer CEO of the Detroit Medical Center
and former Wayne County prosecutor,
told the Jewish News, "We all saw how
our region can work together when com-
munities in Wayne,
Oakland and Macomb
rallied to save the
SMART bus system
during the time I was
general manager of
SMART in the 1990s.
As mayor, I will work
with people of good
Mike Duggan
will across this region
to build coalitions that
support our mutual interests."
Despite not living within Detroit's city
limits, the Jewish community can get

8

October 17 • 2013

JN

involved in a variety of ways.
"The buy-in to Detroit's future is key,"
Napoleon said. "Once we begin to market
our area as a region, Southeast Michigan
will be well on its way. The Jewish com-
munity has both influence and resources
to shape and move this type of discus-
sion. In our region, the roots of the
Jewish community in Detroit run deep."
After all, the Jewish community helped
build Detroit, starting with Chapman
Abraham, who landed in Detroit in 1762
as a fur trader, followed by Sarah and
Isaac Couzens a century later. Jewish
leader Fred Butzel, former Detroit city
councilman David W. Simons and archi-
tect Albert Kahn made the city stronger.
U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, and late leaders
Mel Ravitz, Norman Drachler and Max
Fisher, among others, helped rebuild
Detroit after a turbulent time.
Today, the Jewish community has new
urban pioneers, such as Steve Tobocman,
the former state representative; Ben
Falik, Summer in the City co-founder
and Detroit city director of Repair the
World; Jeff Aronoff, D-hive executive;
Randall Fogelman, vice president of busi-
ness development at Eastern Market
Corp.; Jeff Klein, founder of Detroit Farm
and Garden; Dan Gilbert, Quicken CEO;
and Leor Barak, Isaac Agree Downtown
Synagogue president and attorney — not
to mention well-established community
leaders, such as Eugene and Elaine Driker,
Kathleen Straus and the Hon.Walter
Shapero, and others who are equally com-
mitted to seeing Detroit thrive.

What's At Stake
While Detroit's Jewish community is
centered in Oakland County, many Jews
identify as Detroiters. No doubt, who-
ever gets elected will work with regional
leaders on regional problems, such as the
M1 -Rail, a new regional water author-
ity, the future of the Detroit Institute of

Arts, the development of a new arena for
the Red Wings and a new international
gateway between Canada and the United
States.
While others work on protecting
Detroit's assets, some candidates, such
as Adam Hollier, a city council candidate
in District 5, a a central city district, will
seek private funding for other important
initiatives, such as creating safe bus shel-
ters for children and seniors.
However, whoever wins the November
election will have to tackle other issues,
such as public safety, neighborhood
growth and jobs through economic
expansion in the neighborhoods —
Napoleon's top three issues.
When asked about public safety,
Napoleon, former Detroit Police chief,
said, "Detroit's Downtown continues to
be one of the safest in America, and it
is obvious that our visitors know that
as evidenced on any given weekend in
Downtown Detroit where people from all
over converge to go to dinner, sporting
events, concerts and theatre events:'
Detroiter Gabe Neistein said, "The
issues that I am most interested in and
am hoping the candidates address are
education and the public school system,
blight removal, improved public trans-
portation and business development. I'm
also very interested in the future of Belle
Isle." Neistein supports the state leasing
the island.
Duggan agrees with Neistein and many
other Detroiters as to where the next
mayor's focus needs to be.
"Detroit should be a city that is safe,
is growing, and has strong and vibrant
neighborhoods and commercial centers,"
Duggan said. "Our citizens should be
able to call the police and know they'll
come promptly, should expect timely
repairs of the streetlights, a reliable bus
system and a commitment to rebuild the
neighborhoods by moving families into

Editor's Note:

Elections are a great opportunity
to learn about the candidates who
want to lead, but it is also a chance
to educate them about the Jewish
community. Each campaign for the
Detroit mayor and city council races
was contacted with a list of ques-
tions ranging from their vision for
the city to the top three issues they
will focus on, from what they know
about Detroit's Jewish community
to how we can reconnect with the
city of Detroit. Not every candidate
responded; however, quotes were
included from those who did.

For a perspective on Detroit's
future, see Arthur Horwitz's
Publisher's Notebook on page 35.

vacant homes as soon as they become
abandoned.
"We need to get back to where we can
feel safe in Detroit by returning to the
strategy of cooperation that existed when
I was Wayne County prosecutor. We had
a partnership with the U.S. Attorney, the
DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration],
the ATF [the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms and Explosives], the Detroit
Police and the prosecutor that resulted
in 2003 in Detroit experiencing the few-
est murders in 30 years. Lately, we have
had five police chiefs in five years, leaving
Detroit with no consistent crime-fighting
strategy."

Need For Literacy Education
Literacy also will be a big issue for the
next mayor. According to the Detroit
Literacy Coalition, 47 percent of adult
Detroiters are functionally illiterate.
"Illiteracy is critical:' Napoleon said.
"It has become an impediment to our
children's education when parents aren't
able to provide their children with the
assistance they need at home:'
The Jewish Community Relations
Council of Metropolitan Detroit has
made this one of its focal points and has
three initiatives to address the problem:
the Detroit Jewish Coalition for Literacy
(DJCL), Team Lamed and Reading
Works. Bookstock also supports efforts
to reduce illiteracy and donates proceeds
from the sale to support education and

Detroit on page 10

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