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The Lighter Side of the 2017 Detroit Election

Let's skip the standard politics for a moment. BLAC tossed candidates a few fun questions to get their take on music, food, time travel and more.

These days politics are so divided you can’t get a single bi-partisan idea into the conversation. Fortunately, in Detroit, our politicians display a lot of love for their beloved city, often in funny, thoughtful, silly and surprising ways. Enjoy the lighter side of these candidates while you take a glimpse into the true spirit of Detroit.

Here's a quick refresher on who is running:

Mayoral

  • Mike Duggan, mayor of Detroit
  • Coleman Young II, mayoral candidate

Detroit City Council

District 1

  • James Tate (incumbent)
  • Tamara "Liberty" Smith

District 2

  • Roy McCalister Jr.
  • Virgil Smith

District 3

  • Scott Benson (incumbent)
  • Russ Bellant

District 4

  • Andre Spivey (incumbent)
  • Latisha Johnson

District 5

  • Mary Sheffield (incumbent)
  • Jewel Ware

District 6

  • Raquel Lopez (incumbent)
  • Tyrone Carter

District 7

  • Gabe Leland (incumbent)
  • Regina Ross

At-Large

  • Janee Ayers (incumbent)
  • Brenda Jones (incumbent)
  • Beverly Kindle-Walker
  • Mary Waters

 

What we asked the mayoral candidates:

Who – or what – is your favorite superhero movie or character?

"My superhero is always Underdog. Something about the whole underdog mentality has always appealed to me and I think always appealed to people in Detroit." – Mike Duggan

"My favorite superhero by far would be Batman. I'm a huge Batman fan. And in the Marvel (universe), the Black Panther. I thought The Dark Knight Rises was really good; it didn't get the play it was supposed to." – Coleman Young II

Name a current Detroit hero alive today.

"Big Sean. He has created music training opportunities in the profession. He's got a program at Cass Tech training folks. To me, he's an example of somebody who has succeeded but never forgot where he came from and is creating opportunities for others." – Mike Duggan

"Other than my mother, I would say, JoAnn Watson – all the things that she's done throughout her career for poor people, for struggling people, for black people. I think she is totally underappreciated and underrated. All the things that she fought for and, quite frankly, just being reliable and dependable." – Coleman Young II

Are there any qualities that you admire in your opponent?

"He's got a good smile." – Mike Duggan

"Not at this time, no." – Coleman Young II

 

What we asked the city council and clerk candidates:

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

"Truly eliminating racism would be it, because that would address the jobs, the blight, the education issue. It's tolerated only because it's happening to black people, and I'm deeply bothered by that phenomenon." – Russ Bellant

"It would be the Super Developer who can transform underserved neighborhoods into thriving districts where families want to live, thrive and raise their families." – Scott Benson

"The power to make people nicer to each other." – Tyrone Carter

"The ability to divide myself into multiple clones that could be sent out, and then collect them back into myself. I could be in multiple locations, learning and collecting more information, which would allow me to better serve residents." – Raquel Castaneda-Lopez

"Flying." – Andre Spivey

"When I was a kid, I always wanted to have the power to turn myself invisible." – James Tate

"I want the kind of power that can impact several different things, all of which will help people in a positive way, (including) the Power to Heal a person's body and mind, the Power to Enrich the lives of my fellow man and the ability to Empower the less fortunate and discarded citizens and restore their dignity and sense of self." – Mary Waters

"The ability to see deep into the future." – Janice Winfrey

Imagine your autobiography has just been published. What's it called?

"The Life and Careers of Roy McCalister Jr." – Roy McCalister Jr.

"Identity Crisis: Learning How to Conquer Your Personal Demons." – Virgil Smith

"There's This Guy from Detroit." – Andre Spivey

"Paper or Plastic. My first job was as a bag boy at a grocery store, and I learned a great number of lessons about people that I still rely upon to this day." – James Tate

"It's a Wonderful Life." – Janice Winfrey

What's your favorite restaurant in Detroit?

"My own kitchen. I make some mean short ribs!" – Janee Ayers

"Depends on what I am hungry for at the time." – Tyrone Carter

"Hmmm ... Townhouse. But there are so many new restaurants I haven't experienced yet." – Latisha Johnson

"Urban Soul." – Beverly Kindle-Walker

"Of course, Lafayette Coney Island – 'one with everything.'" – Andre Spivey

"Crab House Ribs & Soul Cafe." – James Tate

"Any Coney Island. I'm a Coney Island girl." – Janice Winfrey

Who's your favorite singer?

"Luther Vandross." – Tyrone Carter

"Nancy Wilson." – Beverly Kindle-Walker

"Stevie Wonder." – Andre Spivey

"Tasha Cobbs." – James Tate

"John Legend." – Janice Winfrey

What's the weirdest thing you've ever eaten?

“Chitterlings.” – Tyrone Carter

"Alligator." – Beverly Kindle-Walker

"I'm one for adventure. A while back I traveled to Iceland and feasted on fermented shark, an Icelandic delicacy (called) hakarl, which also happens to be the national dish of Iceland." – Gabe Leland

"A chocolate-covered insect." – Andre Spivey

"I don't experiment very often with food." – James Tate

"Alligator. That's as weird as I get." – Janice Winfrey

What's your TV guilty pleasure?

"Law and Order." – Tyrone Carter

"Running a city with all the activities of Detroit, who has time for TV? Lol." –Brenda Jones

"None." – Beverly Kindle-Walker

"While everyone is busy watching Power, Empire and The Walking Dead, I'm racing home to watch American Horror Story on FX. The only time I actually sit down to watch TV. Shhhhhh! No calls or texts on Wednesdays at 10 p.m." – Tamara 'Liberty' Smith

"Greenleaf." – James Tate

"Cooking shows – great way to discover foods I may want to taste. News and sports are also high on my list." – Mary Waters

"Pit Bulls & Parolees." – Janice Winfrey

What's the most expensive thing you've bought on impulse?

“A watch during my honeymoon. I still have it.” – Tyrone Carter

"A car." – Beverly Kindle-Walker

"A trip to St. Lucia that I took by myself after finishing up my master's degree in public administration, while in office." – Mary Sheffield

"I am very frugal – or 'cheap,' as my wife says." – James Tate

"My new Cadillac truck. I just bought it – just because." – Janice Winfrey

If you weren't in politics, what would you be doing?

"Rehabbing houses on my street, completing crossword puzzles and traveling to see fall colors." – Russ Bellant

"Volunteering." – Tyrone Carter

"History teacher." – Beverly Kindle-Walker

"My time would be devoted to teaching elementary school and pastoring the St. Paul AME Church on the east side of Detroit, where I have served as the pastor for the last 14 years. With my passion for sports, I would also have time to coach a youth baseball and/or softball team in hopes forming a travel baseball/softball organization to compete across the country." – Andre Spivey

"I would love to be a filmmaker. I'm an artist at heart." – James Tate

"Teaching." – Janice Winfrey

What's the one item in your home that you'd grab in a fire?

"Genealogical records." – Russ Bellant

"My son Tyrone II's ashes. – Tyrone Carter

"Mom's cremated remains." – Beverly Kindle-Walker

"Cellphone." – Andre Spivey

"After making sure that my wife and dog is safe ... everything else is just "stuff." OK – probably my wallet." – James Tate

"Maxwell, my dog. He's a Detroit rescue." – Janice Winfrey

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

"My super-veggie spaghetti." – Russ Bellant

"Smothered pork chops." – Tyrone Carter

"Mustard/turnip greens." – Beverly Kindle-Walker

"Chicken sandwich or nuggets from Chick-fil-A." – Andre Spivey

"Pizza." – James Tate

"A box of Dutch Girl doughnuts. While this wouldn't necessarily be great for my health, at least I'd be supporting a Detroit-based business." – Jewel Ware

"Potatoes – in any form." – Janice Winfrey

What's the one word you would use to describe Detroit?

"Home." – Tyrone Carter

"Determination." – Beverly Kindle-Walker

"Love." – Andre Spivey

"Home." – James Tate

"Resilient." – Janice Winfrey

Avalon cookies or Better Made chips?

"Neither. Nature Valley protein bars." – Russ Bellant

"Better Made." – Tyrone Carter

"Better Made chips with a 60/40 Faygo pop." – Beverly Kindle-Walker

"Better Made. I had them shipped to me in college." – Andre Spivey

"Better Made due to longevity ... but I have a wicked sweet tooth." – James Tate

"With just a moment's thought, I would say Avalon cookies, not simply because they are sweet but because they have a lot of ingredients and give the impression of being a 'team effort' – and thereby being a community-oriented treat." – Mary Waters

"Avalon cookies – only because I'm a Lay's girl." – Janice Winfrey

American or Lafayette Coney Island?

"I've got to say American." – Garlin Gilchrist II

"Both. Whichever one is closer!" – Janice Winfrey

If you could step into a time machine and visit Detroit in any era – past, present, or future – where would you land?

"1940, to see my grandmother who died before I was born." – Russ Bellant

"Past, during the ’60s to see Black Bottom." – Tyrone Carter

"1972." – Beverly Kindle-Walker

"The late '40s to the early '60s. That was the era when a lot of transitions were made. You're talking about an era when folks migrated from the South to start coming up to get the jobs, and then you're talking about the '60s – that's when civil rights came forward." – Roy McCalister Jr.

"Past, hanging out with Antoine Cadillac when he founded Detroit." – Andre Spivey

"Maybe about 20 years from now to see how the things that I have done while in office affected life for Detroiters." – James Tate

If you were an animal, what would you be?

"Seeing eye dog."– Russ Bellant

"Eagle." – Tyrone Carter

"An eagle." – Beverly Kindle-Walker

"Lion." – Andre Spivey

"A skunk. Skunks don't stink to other skunks. No one eats skunk. No one wears skunk fur. Not many skunk pets in the world either. Skunks have a defense like none other." – James Tate

"An elephant. They live a long life and they don't have any natural predators, I don't think." – Janice Winfrey

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