Wayne County Commission District 5

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    Irma Clark-Coleman

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Biographical Information

What do you view as Wayne County’s most pressing problems, and how would you start to solve them?

How do you feel about the actions taken by the administration of Wayne County Executive Warren Evans both in requesting a declaration of financial emergency to deal with the county’s financial situation and in the steps taken to address the financial emergency, such as through employee and retiree healthcare changes?

What efforts would you pursue to improve Wayne County’s financial situation?

What can Wayne County do to reverse its ongoing population loss?

What can Wayne County do to improve employment possibilities across the county?

Which county-provided services need the most improvement, and what suggestions can you offer for making them better?

Aside from its people, what are Wayne County’s greatest assets and how can the county better use or market them?

Many county officials have complained in recent months about a loss of talent from the ranks of Wayne County government. How would you make Wayne County government a more attractive option for quality candidates in light of the county’s financial challenges?

Do you support the union-led petition effort to reduce the base pay of Wayne County commissioners from $61,800 to $45,000? Why or why not?

How would your policies help to fix aging infrastructure in Wayne?

What is your position on outfitting the county sheriff’s department with body cameras?

Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?

With reports showing Michigan behind on education, what role if any do you see the county taking to improve education?

What is the county’s role in assisting financially struggling cities?

Has the county taken appropriate steps to prevent gun violence?

Do you support the proposed millage to fund regional transit in metro Detroit? Why or why not?

Do you support and will you appear at campaign events with your party’s presidential nominee?

Have you ever filed for personal bankruptcy? If so, explain.

Have you ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor? If so, explain.

City of residence Detroit
Family 2 adult children, 2 grandsons
Education Master of Arts in Communications Wayne State University
Vehicles owned Cadillac CTS Chrysler 300
Professional Experience Retired from Wayne County government as Director of Human Relations in 1998
Political Experience Detroit School Board, 1991 - 1998 Michigan House of Reps, 1999 - 2002 Michigan State Senate, 2003 - 2010 Wayne County Commission, 2011- 2016
Race/ethnicity African American
Campaign Website http://N/A
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Incumbent? true
Severe losses of revenue and property tax reductions caused by the Great Recession of 2008 caused the county to accumulate budget deficits and force us into a consent agreement with the State of Michigan. However, working with the County Executive, my colleagues on the Commission, and our other county officeholders, we have eliminated our accumulated deficit and reduced our structural deficit to a manageable level. In fact, when our certified audit for 2014-15 fiscal year was released a short time ago, we recorded our 2nd consecutive general fund budget surplus. Our improved condition will enable us to end our consent agreement, find funds to complete the jail & boost our pension system.
It has been a painful loss to thousands of retirees who believed their healthcare would be safe and available to them for the rest of their life. However, it was a situation of agreeing to a consent agreement and safeguarding retiree and employee pensions or having an Emergency Manager appointed and having absolutely no input on deficit reductions.
We have to do all in our power to reduce spending and maintain a balance budget. We will then be able to continue to improve our financial condition and hence improve our bond rating with the financial institutions.
I think that is an ongoing situation of improving the neighborhoods by tearing down blighted houses and restoring others. Just as blight spreads, so does restoration. Programs put into effect by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan such as lighting the streets, helping citizens get loans to purchase houses and improving trash pickup will encourage people to stay in the city and others to move in. These measures can be applied county-wide.
There are jobs to be had in the Metropolitan Detroit area. What we do not offer is transportation to get people to the jobs. That has to be improved.
With the elimination of mental health facilities, many mentally challenged people are winding up in our Wayne County jails or homeless and sleeping under bridges. The jail system is being overburdened with inmates who should be in a mental health facility. The state needs to reopen those facilities so we can reduce our jail population.
Our waterways would definitely be our greatest assets. Measures are currently being taken to maximize the shoreline especially as it relates to the Riverwalk and Belle Isle. We have to be diligent in protecting and cleaning our waterways. We also have an abundant supply of land, especially in Detroit. We need to bundle those vacant lots and market them to investors.
With the recent reduction in healthcare benefits, many county employees are opting to retire and leave county government. We are having difficulties keeping deputies in the Sheriff's Department. Other law enforcement agencies are offering better opportunities and we are losing them at a rapid pace. We also losing talented professionals for the same reasons. As our financial situation improves, we need to invest in competing with other counties for personnel.
No I do not support the petition effort. Wayne County is the largest county in the state of Michigan. I have worked at the county and state level and believe me when I say, with 125,000 constituents in my district and being available to their concerns on a daily basis. $6l,800 is not being overpaid. In addition to attending Full Commission meeting, we also attend a number of committee meetings. I also serve as a member of the Detroit Metro Airport Authority, Wayne County Landbank and several others. In addition, I attend weekly neighborhood community meetings and events in the evenings. So, this is an all encompassing position.
The state provides road funds through a formula to counties. We have been patching potholes for a short term fix. The roads are in such disrepair until the patch no longer works. We need a long term resolution and getting the needed resources is very difficult in these financially distressed times.
I absolutely support body cameras for the county sheriff department. However, we must come up with a solution for the added expense of analyzing those findings by the prosecutors office.
I support the will of the people and have confidence that they will make the right choice when they vote on the issue.
As it relates to Detroit, I support local control by an elected school board. The state has controlled the Detroit Board of Education since I began my stint as a State Representative in 1999. I did not support it then and do not support it now. An emergency manager has been disastrous for Detroit. I also think the proliferation of unregulated charter schools have had a negative effect on public schools, causing them to consolidate and close due to decreased enrollment around the county. All schools need to face the same scrutiny and regulation as public schools.
We are working to keep struggling families in their homes through County Treasurer Eric Sabree's mortgage foreclosure program. We also need to lobby Lansing to discontinue passing laws that place unfunded mandates on our cities. A return to state revenue sharing would be most helpful to cities.
We have gun buy back programs, but is it enough, NO. There needs to be federal legislation to conduct background searches as well as ban assault weapons. We also have to call on our citizenry to get involved in neighborhood watch programs and report criminal activities to the police. We also need the involvement of our civic community in working with our youth to teach them of other ways to deal with anger.
Yes. As I mentioned previously, we need to provide a way to get our citizens to jobs throughout the Metropolitan area. We have jobs available, lets take the people to the jobs.
Yes, I support my party's presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. I have been at campaign events and will be attending the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia.