Detroit City Council

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Detroit City Council
Seal of Detroit (B&W).svg
Founded1824 (as the Common Council)
President Pro-Tempore
Seats7 districts
2 at-large
Detroit City Council 2020.svg
Council political groups
  •   Democratic (9)
Council committeesBudget and Finance,
Neighborhood and Community Services,
Human Resources,
Law and Public Safety,
Planning and Economic Development
Length of term
4 years
AuthorityArticle 4, Chapter 1, Charter of the City of Detroit, 2012
First-past-the-post (district seats)
Block voting (at-large seats)
Council last election
November 7, 2017[1]
Speramus Meliora, Resurget Cineribus
(We hope for better things, It will rise from the ashes)
Meeting place
13th floor, Coleman A. Young Municipal Building

The Detroit City Council is the legislative body of Detroit, Michigan, United States. The full-time council is required to meet every business day for at least 10 months of the year, with at least eight of these meetings occurring at a location besides city hall.[2] The council may convene for special meetings at the call of the mayor or at least four members of council.[2]


The City Council was first constituted as the legislative body of the city in 1824. The city began to grow more rapidly in the late 19th century, absorbing immigrants from Europe and migrants from the rural South and other areas. This body was called the Common Council until July 1, 1974.

Until the early 20th century, the council was elected from city wards, or single-member districts. However, starting in 1918, at a time of changes in local government thought to be Progressive, the city council voted to require all city council members elected at-large. This required most of the council members to attract a majority of votes, reducing representation by populations from individual wards, where various ethnic groups tended to concentrate. It was considered unusual for a city of Detroit's size, which had competing political parties.

While voters in the city have become predominately affiliated with the Democratic Party, they wanted more representation by district. On November 4, 2009, city voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum to once again elect seven of the nine council seats from single-member districts, and two at-large seats, beginning in 2013.[3]

Composition & Election[edit]

The council is composed of nine members, seven of whom are elected from single-member districts using first-past-the-post voting, with two additional members elected at-large using block voting. The council includes two officers, the president and president pro tempore, who are elected from among the members of the council at the beginning of each new session of the body for four-year terms. The officers can be removed by a unanimous vote of council, exclusive of the member being removed, during any session meeting. Elections to the body are officially non-partisan.

City Council Electoral Districts[edit]

A major overhaul of Detroit City Charter took place in 2012. This change moved to election by district for 7 districts and 2 at-large positions.[4]

Detroit City Council Electoral Districts Map

Current members[edit]

District Councillor Position In office since Party (officially nonpartisan)
District 1 James Tate 2009 Democratic[5]
District 2 Roy McCalister Jr 2017[6] Democratic[7]
District 3 Scott Benson 2013 Democratic[8]
District 4 André L. Spivey 2009 Democratic[9]
District 5 Mary Sheffield 2013 Democratic[10]
District 6 Raquel Castañeda-López 2013 Democratic[11]
District 7 Gabe Leland 2013 Democratic
At-large Janeé Ayers 2015ab Democratic
At-large Brenda Jones President 2005 Democratic

a. At-large Councilwoman Saunteel Jenkins, first elected in 2009, resigned her seat in October 2014.[12]

b. Janee Ayers, appointed by a vote of City Council 6-2, began serving office on February 17, 2015 to fill the vacancy.[13]

Castañeda-López is the city's first Hispanic council member and represents a district in Southwest Detroit.[14]


The council has five standing committees:

  • Budget and Finance
  • Neighborhood and Community Services
  • Human Resources
  • Law and Public Safety
  • Planning and Economic Development

The council is granted the power to form additional committees at its own discretion

Vacancies and special elections[edit]

If a vacancy occurs on the city council, it is filled by appointment of the city council based on a two-thirds vote of its existing members. The appointee serves until the next general election scheduled in the city, be that an election to fill federal, state, county or city offices.[15] However, the seat remains vacant if the vacancy occurs fewer than 180 days before the next citywide general election.

Former members[edit]

Starting in 1919, nine Detroit City Council members were elected at large. Members of the council, from 1919 to the present, are:[16]

  • Color coding: pink = Republican; blue = Democratic; light green = Farmer-Labor; dark green = Progressive; gray = unaffiliated.
Year Detroit City Council Members
1919 John C. Lodge James Vernor John C. Nagel Sherman Littlefield William P. Bradley
(Died June 1938)
Charles F. Bielman
(Died April 16, 1920)
Fred W. Castator David W. Simons John Kronk
  Richard M. Watson
(Elected November 21, 1920)
1922 Robert G. Ewald
1924 John Stevenson Arthur E. Dingeman Phillip A. Callahan
1928 George A. Walters John Kronk
1930 John C. Nagel John S. Hall
(Died January 19, 1934)
1932 Frank Couzens John W. Smith Richard Lindsay
(Died January 7, 1937)
John C. Lodge Eugene Van Antwerp Edward Jeffries
1934 George Engle
(Until June 23, 1937)
  Arthur E. Dingeman
(November 13, 1934 – Oct. 1935)
1936 Robert G. Ewald
(Out May 26, 1942)
    John Kronk
(Elected April 5, 1937)
1938 Philip Breitmeyer Harry I. Dingeman
(Out April 10, 1941)
Henry S. Sweeny
  John W. Smith
(Elected November 8, 1938, Died June 1942)
1940 Charles E. Dorais
(Rsgd. May 27, 1947)
John Hamilton
(Out April 2, 1941)
James H. Garlick
1942 William G. Rogell George C. Edwards William A. Comstock
(Died June 16, 1949)
  Frank Cody
(Elected November 3, 1942,
Died April 1946)
1944 Fred C. Castator
1946 Charles G. Oakman
    Patrick J. McNamara
(Elected November 5, 1946)
1948 Louis C. Miriani Charles F. Edgecomb Leo J. Nowicki
(Resigned April 14, 1948)
Del A. Smith John A. Kronk
(Died February 13, 1954)
James H. Garlick
    Edward Connor
(Elected November 2, 1948, Resigned December 31, 1966)
1950 Edward Jeffries
(Died April 2, 1950)
Mary Beck William G. Rogell
  Eugene Van Antwerp
(Elected November 7, 1950, Died August 5, 1962)
1954 Charles Youngblood Blanche Parent Wise
  James H. Lincoln
(Elected November 2, 1944, Resigned May 5, 1960)
1958 Ed Carey William T. Patrick
(Resigned December 31, 1963)
  Charles N. Youngblood
(Elected November 8, 1960)
1962 James H. Brickley
(Resigned January 15, 1967)
Anthony Wierzbicki Mel Ravitz
  Phillip J. Van Antwerp
(Elected April 1, 1963)
  Thomas L. Poindexter
(Elected November 3, 1964)
1966 Louis C. Miriani Nicholas Hood
  Robert Tindal
(Elected November 5, 1968,
Died July 30, 1971)
Anthony J. Wierzbicki
(Elected November 5, 1968)
1970 Carl M. Levin David Eberhard Ernest C. Browne Jr.
  Erma Henderson
(Elected November 7, 1972)
1974 Clyde Cleveland Maryann Mahaffey Jack Kelley
1978 Kenneth Cockrel Sr. Herbert McFaddend Jr.
(Died September 21, 1981)
1982 Mel Ravitz Barbara-Rose Collins
(Resigned 11/90)
John W. Peoples
1990 Gil Hill Keith Butler Kay Everett
1994 Alberta Tinsley-Talabi Nicholas Hood III Sheila Cockrel Brenda M. Scott
(Died September 2, 2002)
1998 Kenneth Cockrel Jr.
2002 Sharon McPhail Barbara-Rose Collins Alonzo W. Bates
  JoAnn Watson
(Elected April 29, 2003)
2006 Monica Conyers Kwame Kenyatta
(Resigned June 21, 2013)
Martha Reeves Brenda Jones
(see col 1 in 2014)
2010 Saunteel Jenkins
{Resigned October 17, 2014)
James Tate
District 1
Charles Pugh
(Seat declared vacant July 8, 2013)
Andre L. Spivey
District 4
Gary Brown
(Resigned June 24, 2013)
2014 Brenda Jones
Council President
George Cushingberry Jr.
District 2
Scott R. Benson
District 3
Mary Sheffield
District 5
Council President Pro-Tem
Raquel Castañeda-López
District 6
Gabe Leland
District 7
  Janeé Ayers
At-Large (appointed February 17, 2015; elected November 8, 2016)
2018 Roy McCalister Jr.
District 2


Salaries for elected officials are recommended every odd-numbered year by the Detroit Elected Officials Compensation Commission.[17] The 7-member board is appointed by the mayor and approved by the council, each member serving a 7-year term.[18]

After being recommended by the compensation commission, City Council approved a pay increase of 3% on November 19, 2019. Regular City Council members will be paid $82,749 annually, while the City Council President will be paid $94,000.[17] Recommendations for salaries were recommended and approved in 2015 and 2017. Prior to 2015 increases had not happened since 2001.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Municipal elections in Detroit, Michigan (2017)". Ballotpedia. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Charter of the City of Detroit, January 1 2012" (PDF). City of Detroit. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  3. ^ Josar, David (November 4, 2009). "Plan to elect council by districts wins". The Detroit News. Retrieved November 5, 2009.[dead link]
  4. ^ "Detroit, Michigan city council elections, 2013". Ballotpedia. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  5. ^ (PDF) Retrieved May 25, 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ "Roy McCalister | City Council | Government | City of Detroit MI". Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  7. ^ "Roy McCalister Jr". Ballotpedia. Retrieved April 22, 2019.
  8. ^ "Scott Benson". Ballotpedia. Retrieved April 22, 2019.
  9. ^ "Andre' L. Spivey For Detroit City Council". Retrieved April 22, 2019.
  10. ^ "Mary Sheffield (Michigan)". Ballotpedia. Retrieved April 22, 2019.
  11. ^ "Challenger attacks council incumbent over votes, house". Detroit News. Retrieved April 22, 2019.
  12. ^ "Detroit councilwoman Saunteel Jenkins resigns". The Detroit News. Jonathan Wolman. October 17, 2014. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  13. ^ "Detroit council taps union leader to fill vacancy". The Detroit News. Christine Ferretti. February 18, 2015. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  14. ^ "Southwest Detroit voters elect 1st Latina council member" (Archive). Detroit Free Press. November 5, 2013. Retrieved on July 12, 2015.
  15. ^ "The Proposed Detroit City Charter" (PDF). Citizens Research Council of Michigan. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  16. ^ "Detroit City Council, 1919 to present". Detroit Public Library. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved November 6, 2010.
  17. ^ a b c Ferretti, Christine (November 19, 2019). "Detroit City Council approves pay raises for members, mayor". The Detroit News. Gary Miles. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  18. ^ "Part IV - Detroit City Code, Article II. Elected Officials, Division 1. - Elected Officials Compensation Commission". Municode. Retrieved April 26, 2020.

External links[edit]