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
Council committeesBudget and Finance, Neighborhood and Community Services, Human Resources, Law and Public Safety, Planning and Economic Development
Council last election
November 5, 2013
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. The council may convene for special meetings at the call of the mayor or at least four members of council.


The City Council was first constituted as the legislative body of the city in 1824, and was called the Common Council until July 1, 1974. Prior to 1918, the council was elected from city wards. However, starting in 1918, all city council members were elected at large, unusual for a city of Detroit's size. On November 4, 2009, city voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum to once again elect most of the council by districts beginning in 2013, while allowing for two at-large seats.[1]


The council is composed of nine members, seven of which are elected from single-member districts of approximately equal population, with two additional members elected at-large. The council includes two officers, the president and president pro tempore, who are elected from amongst the members of the council at the beginning of each new session of the body for four years 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.[2]

Detroit City Council Electoral Districts Map

Current members[edit]

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

a. At-large Councilwoman Saunteel Jenkins, first elected in 2009, resigned her seat in October 2014.[4]

b. Janee Ayers appointed by a vote of City Council 6-2 began serving office on February 17, 2015.[5]

Castañeda-López is the city's first Hispanic council member.[6]


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.[7] 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:[8]

  • 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 Charles Pugh
(Seat declared vacant July 8, 2013)
Andre L. Spivey Gary Brown
(Resigned June 24, 2013)
2014 Brenda Jones
Council President
Janeé Ayers
At-Large (appointed February 17, 2015; elected November 8, 2016)
James Tate
District 1
George Cushingberry, Jr.
District 2
Council President Pro-Tem
Scott R. Benson
District 3
Andre L. Spivey
District 4
Mary Sheffield
District 5
Raquel Castañeda-López
District 6
Gabe Leland
District 7


As of May 2013, members of the city council collect $73,181 a year and the council president is paid $76,911 per year.[9]

On March 30, 2015 City Council approved a pay increase placing the city in the number 11 rank among the nation's 25 largest cities. City Council members and the City Clerk will be paid $78,761, City Council President to be paid $82,776. The 2.5% raises take place July 1, 2016.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Josar, David (November 4, 2009). "Plan to elect council by districts wins". The Detroit News. Retrieved November 5, 2009.[dead link]
  2. ^ Ballotpedia,_Michigan_city_council_elections,_2013. Retrieved 12 June 2015. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ "Roy McCalister | City Council | Government | City of Detroit MI". Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  4. ^ "Detroit councilwoman Saunteel Jenkins resigns". The Detroit News. Jonathan Wolman. 17 October 2014. Retrieved 12 December 2014.
  5. ^ "Detroit council taps union leader to fill vacancy". The Detroit News. Christine Ferretti. 18 February 2015. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  6. ^ "Southwest Detroit voters elect 1st Latina council member" (Archive). Detroit Free Press. November 5, 2013. Retrieved on July 12, 2015.
  7. ^ "The Proposed Detroit City Charter" (PDF). Citizens Research Council of Michigan. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  8. ^ "Detroit City Council, 1919 to present". Detroit Public Library. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved November 6, 2010.
  9. ^ "City council compensation comparison: See how Detroit compares to other cities". Detroit Free Press. 12 May 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  10. ^ Guillen, Joe (5 April 2015). "Detroit council pay raise angers retirees facing cuts". USA Today. Retrieved 12 June 2015.

External links[edit]