City Council Candidates Answer Your Questions

As webmaster for the CCNA, I invited both candidates for the City Council for the Seventh Ward, Denise Smith Allen and Dale Weighill, to participate in an online forum, and answer questions supplied by residents of the College Cultural Neighborhood. Both accepted this opportunity, and the questions submitted to them, along with their answers, are below. I thank both candidates for their participation in this forum:

1) What do you plan to do to help prevent the erosion of neighborhood life in the Seventh Ward? In particular, what realistic solutions are there to crimes such as breaking and entering?

Denise Smith Allen: Crime in the 7th Ward has spiked primarily because of the economic down turn, the pervasive and increased use of drugs, both street and prescription. In addition, property owners have not been held accountable for the upkeep of their unoccupied homes which contributes to the erosion of neighborhoods. Increasing the creation of block clubs, crime watch organizations and neighborhood associations is essential for neighborhood stabilization. Breaking and entering can occur at any time, but they seem to be more prevalent during hours when people are working or otherwise out of the home. Simple things, such as notifying the block club captain or neighbor when trips are planned; buying a security system, motion/sensor lighting or having someone house sit can reduce this type of crime. As your 7th ward councilwoman I will work with the administration to support restructuring the police department, open up a mini-station in a centralized area, work to enforce code and curfew violators which are small steps to increase the quality of life for the residents of the 7th ward. Our young people need to be engaged in constructive activities. Scott School offers an after school mentoring program. The Brennan Center is a Center for both elderly residents and youth. Expanding this concept to the Pierce Senior Center to incorporate youth activities would be beneficial. Helping 7th ward residents to engage in more activities offered by FIA, Sloan Museum and the Planetarium. Lastly, from each precinct I would request a volunteer to become a precinct captain or representative. These representatives would mainly provide feedback in the form of evaluation of progress or lack thereof and would be rotated to insure inclusion.

Dale Weighill: I would like to see a comprehensive public safety and crime control plan put forward by the administration and Police Chief. I would like to see this plan result in the following:

• A greater police presence – in patrol cars, on bikes, and by foot – in neighborhoods.
• Improved police response time to emergency calls.
• Improved customer service at the Police Department.
• Greater use of modern technology to fight crime.
• Ongoing professional development for officers on effective crime-fighting techniques.
• Creation of a vehicle for citizen input and feedback, such as a Citizen-Police Advisory Committee made up of residents from each of our nine wards.
• An increase in the number of neighborhood watches, block clubs and neighborhood associations in Flint.
• Education for residents on how to be on the lookout for suspicious activities in their neighborhoods and what to do if they observe criminal activity.

Many of the above items will require additional resources, of course. Some dollars might be obtained through grant dollars from local, state or national sources (including our own local foundation community).

2) What is your position on curbside recycling for our city?

Denise Smith Allen: I am in favor of curbside recycling under the right conditions.  First we must help educate the residents of the need to clean up our environment for health and safety reasons.  We must then provide a period of time to assist residents in obtaining the additional waste disposal receptacles needed for the conversion.  Lastly, we must hold the owner or owners of recycling centers to standards established by the EPA and other governing bodies associated with this process and fine and or prosecute those owners not in compliance, immediately.

Dale Weighill: I am in support of efforts to bring curbside recycling to Flint.  The difficulty, of course, is finding ways to pay for it and in (perhaps) getting residents across the City to participate in such a program.  I am committed to exploring ways to bring curbside recycling to Flint without having to raise taxes.  I’d also like to find ways to incentivize people to start recycling (e.g., perhaps by offering financial rewards to those who do).  Recycling will require a great deal of citizen education, so we’ll need to include this part of the effort when we cost out any program.

3) What is your position on privatizing city services such as street cleaning, parks maintenance, garbage collection, traffic signal and sign maintenance, etc.? What about partnering with county agencies or organizations to save money?

Denise Smith Allen: City services are a function of city governance as outlined in the Flint City Charter.  While the charter speaks to the idea that there may be no more than ten executive departments, it does not speak to privatizing any of these departments.  Street cleaning, park maintenance, garbage collection, traffic signal and sign maintenance fall under “Parks & Recreation” and “Public Works & Utilities” both could be considered for consolidation after a cost benefit analysis has been performed.   I am not opposed to exploring the idea of partnering with county government on certain projects.

Dale Weighill: I am not opposed as a matter of principle to privatizing certain city services if we can provide a higher-quality service at the same or at a reduced cost.  With the very limited resources we have at our disposal, I think everything needs to be on the table for discussion.  As for the County, I would support representatives from the City of Flint and Genesee County sitting down as equals and discussing ways to achieve efficiencies while at the same time maintaining or improving services. This approach was unfortunately rejected by the current City Council a number of months ago (although our 7th Ward Councilman, Jim Ananich, sensibly voted for it).

4) What could you do to foster a harmonious and productive working relationship between the City Council and the Mayor?

Denise Smith Allen: My mission and platform has incorporated the need for civility while conducting city council business.  As your city councilwoman, I would extend an olive branch to my fellow councilpersons and the administration with the hope that moving the city forward would always be the main objective.  I believe that opposing points of views need to be heard and respected.  The city of Flint will be receiving and has received stimulus money to help us reposition ourselves in the global economy.  It is imperative that we conduct ourselves in such a manner that we regain the respect that has been lost over the past few administrations.  In order for new businesses to consider making Flint their home we must present ourselves in such a positive fashion that those businesses would be anxious to establish a working relationship with us.

Dale Weighill: I have said since declaring my candidacy for City Council that one of my highest priorities will be to work effectively with our new Mayor and my Council colleagues.  Upon my election, I would immediately schedule a sit-down meeting with the Mayor to discuss our mutual visions/agendas for Flint and to search for common ground.  I intend to support the Mayor as much as I can, without, of course, sacrificing my own principles or policy goals.  I suspect that there will be on-going communications, both in person and via telephone and email, between the Mayor’s office and myself.  I already have a number of excellent relationships with key Mayoral aides.  As for my Council colleagues, I already have solid relationships with a number of incumbent members and non-incumbents who are likely to be re-elected and elected on November 3.  I expect that the new Mayor and new Council will have a much better relationship than those from the past.

Denise Smith Allen’s campaign website is at She adds:

I found Flint, Michigan a good place to raise my two sons after moving here from the east coast in 1979.  Upon completing undergraduate school my children and I worked to establish ourselves in this quaint community.  I began my work career in Flint at Whaley Children Center as a Child Care Worker, moving to Adolescent Specialist then Licensing Worker for foster and adoptive families.  I have been a Probation Agent for 22 years with MDOC.  My husband Fred retired from GM after 36 years of service.  In addition to our adult sons we have fostered 7 children.  I have continuously engaged in service to the community.

Dale Weighill’s campaign website is at He is President & CEO of Resource Genesee.