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The 4th District

Carol Banks and Adam Hollier

The newly drawn 4th state district has attracted more candidates than any other. Eight of the 11 candidates in the race are Detroit residents, the other three are from Hamtramck. With the exception of one Republican, all are running as Democrats.

With less than two weeks to the primary election, Aug. 7, The Michigan Citizen was able interview three candidates to discuss their campaign.

Adam Hollier

Adam Hollier says he has knocked on over 7,000 doors this summer, and even after Kwame Kilpatrick, his youth is an asset. He says seniors want to see young people “step up.” Crime and vacant houses are significant issues this campaign, according to Hollier. He also says he believes people “want the state to do right by the schools, put real investment in them. They want their Medicaid taking care of. And real reform on insurance, mass transit.” Although this is his first run for state political office, as Sen. Burt Johnson’s former chief of staff he says he’s already been involved in regional mass transit discussions. “We’ve been at the forefront of and had a hand in writing the legislation (for regional mass transit). I was on the committee making an investment in the infrastructure, the number one thing we need.

Hollier graduated from Renaissance High School, received his bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University and his master’s in Urban Planning from University of Michigan Ann Arbor.

What is your plan of action?

We need to start knocking down some of these homes and getting young folks back into neighborhoods. (We) need people with skills because everybody can’t afford to fix (these houses) — which can be addressed in curriculum reform. Within the last two years, we did curriculum reforms and forgot skilled trades. If we had a few hundred high school kids that could do some of this work, a way to teach and train and (we could) provide a service to the city. This is something that can be done in six months. I’ve talked to labor unions and they are excited about getting skilled trades in schools.

What are your views on education reform?

There’s also putting art, music and design back into the curriculum. Children need to feel successful to be successful. They need to have that diversity. You look at an artist, who may not feel math is their thing, but they have to learn and understand how it relates to their passion. I think offering a diverse curriculum does that. We always talk about how this next generation doesn’t have an entrepreneurial spirit, but they don’t learn that.

Last thing, higher ed is extremely expensive. It’s six times more expensive than in the early ‘90s. We spend time saying tuition should be cheaper, I don’t believe that it should. It should be more affordable. For most schools student loans are capped. For example, a family that makes less than $65,000 should have financial aid opportunities that makes school affordable.

What are some of your other policy ideas?

Similar to the aerotropolis legislation, we need economic development around the (Detroit River) port. We started as a port city. You rarely see commercials talking about that like Chicago or New Orleans, saying, “Come to Detroit.”

Policy and funding to invest in neighborhoods for demolition, rehabilitation and addition, also down payment assistance and things like that so people could rebuild their neighborhoods … like Obama’s federal stimulus program (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act).

Those are three things we can do quickly: the economic development around the port, curriculum reform, putting skill trade and the arts back in schools and reinvestment in our neighborhoods.

Carol Banks

Detroit Public Schools Board member at-large Carol Banks is currently a policy analyst and works as a constituent relations liaison for City Council. “I didn’t expect to get as many endorsements as I got this time around (13 in total),” Banks told the Michigan Citizen. Her list of endorsements includes Mayor Dave Bing. “People are tired of the same ole, same ole,” she said.

Banks says she believes the defining issues for this election are public safety, education and lack of assistance for senior citizens. She also talked about the need for a public safety task force. “You can’t get certain people to come to certain parts of the city,” she said.

Won’t the city become a police state?

I’m thinking about certain areas of the city (that really need it). Everyday you pick up the paper and see the news … When do we say enough is enough and do something to bring the crime down? I’m not saying we need to be highly policed, but in certain areas, some in my district, do need to be policed. If my own kid can’t go to Linwood and be free to stop at a stop sign … A lot of seniors are saying they’re looking to move out of the city, but (crime) is all over.

Is there something else that can be done other than increasing the police presence? And as a state representative, how do you affect crime?

I am for increasing the amount of money we spend on education. I’m for increasing the school year. At a state level, we put more dollars into prisons than in education. We used to focus on the creative side of the child. Now we’re just talking about reading writing, arithmetic and engineering. That was one reason why the Michigan Democrats for Education Reform endorsed me. I talked about resources, not just dollars. Instead of creating these different schools with the EAA (Educational Achievement Authority) and charters, when do we look at the programs that work the best? Everybody is grabbing for students and money and not looking at programs and resources to make the students better … working together and sharing resources. Right now with EAA and charters it’s about money — you never hear about the programs, whether it works or if it’s effective.

What other issues are you campaigning on?

I’m running on: Public safety and transportation; preschool and young adult education; and quality of life issues for our seniors. Seniors live on fixed incomes and they don’t know a lot of the resources that are out there that they need. We need to create legislation on the state level to help them.

How has your position as a city worker prepared you for state office?

I work for all nine council members. I get the call when someone has a problem.

As far as policy, I read documents and give pros and cons for all nine council members, how it affects citizens … Mostly I’ve been doing things from making sure people’s garbage is being picked up to (dealing with) outrageous water bills.

What are some of the things you’ve done so far as a school board member to address the issues in DPS?

On the board, I’ve worked with Safeway Transportation to make sure we kept them on and kept 90 jobs. (The owner/operator of Safeway) was one of the best companies we had providing DPS transportation.

When it came to special needs children, they were going to take aides off the buses. We went to Lansing and met with the governor (Rick Snyder) and we were able to stop them from taking the aides off the buses.

I chaired the public health and safety committee where we put together over 150 parents to patrol the area. They were called the Yellow Jackets.

I’ve been on the board since ’09. It was difficult under the thumb of an emergency manager.

The first part of my tenure was with (Robert) Bobb and now with (Roy) Roberts. I was able to work with Bobb for our special needs students.

I was able to get eight special needs parents to serve on executive board for Wayne RESA. For six years there wasn’t any parent participation on RESA’s board.

Detroit holds three seats that had been vacant for six years.

Editor’s note: Rosemary Robinson, despite attempts to reach her, did not respond. The Michigan Citizen selected the top three candidates.

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