Jerri Winfrey-Carter – Ward 5
Education: B.S. in Chemistry; M.A. in Curriculum & Instruction; Ed.S. in Adult Education; Doctoral Candidate in Adult Education
Occupation: Associate Director of the St. Luke N.E.W. Life Adult Literacy Center
Why do you feel you are a good fit for Flint City Council?
I am a good fit for City Council because I am exceptionally well qualified to handle the job. I have the right personality to bring a greater degree of civility to that body, I am resourceful and knowledgeable, I have a passion for the people and passion for the Flint community, and I have a collaborative spirit to ensure that the Council and the Administration work together to move the city forward.
What are the top five issues you want to focus on as a City Council member?
The top five issues I would like to focus on include:
- Resolving the water crisis and working to restore the trust of my constituents in the water delivery system once again.
- Economic Development and the Creation of Jobs. The 5th Ward has more industrial-ready land within its boundaries than any other ward in the city, ready to be occupied by manufacturing companies. I would utilize the fact that the Lear Corporation is locating in the old Buick City complex as leverage to attract other major companies to the area.
- Blight Removal and the Elimination of Illegal Dumping. The 5th Ward has become a major dumping ground. I will work with the Administration to establish safeguards against illegal dumping in my ward, and to establish neighborhood clean-ups throughout the ward.
- Community Development. I will work diligently to complete Smith Village and to bring it to a state that is more attractive to potential homeowners, such as providing low-interest or no interest home improvement loans to the owners of older structures in the area, working to beautify the area generally, and working with the administration to entice potential homeowners to the area. At the same time, I would work to encourage more developers to take advantage of the acres suitable for development in the 5th Ward, and perhaps create more development in other areas such as University Park.
- Work to develop more recreational and social outlets for senior citizens and youth in the 5th Ward. The 5th Ward is a dessert when it comes to opportunities for our senior citizens and youth. I would work in conjunction with the community school directors at Doyle-Ryder and DTM to provide more engaging activities/programs and resources to the 5th Ward youth and senior citizens.
How would you help the city navigate through the water crisis?
I would help the city navigate through the water crisis by first, making myself totally knowledgeable about all the intricacies of the water crisis from the beginning up to this point. My undergraduate degree in Chemistry gives me a greater perspective on the causes and effects of the water crisis than the average layperson. As the quality of our water continues to improve, the biggest hurdle we will have to cross as a city is to convince our residents to believe that the water is safe. I feel I can use my chemistry background to help in that regard.
What would your water source recommendation be?
My water source recommendation would be to remain with the Great Lakes Water Authority. If we are truly sincere about restoring trust in the water system, we do not need to take the citizens of Flint through another change. As fragile and precarious as the city’s finances are, the fact that GLWA will take on the city’s $7 million annual bond debt is a bonus for the city, notwithstanding the fact the water we receive from GLWA is pre-treated, eliminating the need to spend millions upon millions of dollars to bring our antiquated water plant up to speed. To go with KWA will require a complete restoration of the water plant in addition to attracting the expertise to operate the plant. The latter is an ongoing problem for the city because of the water problem itself and the city’s inability to adequately compensate qualified personnel works against hiring that much-needed expertise.
How satisfied are you with Flint’s current administration?
I am satisfied with the current administration’s ability to take the bull by the horns first by sounding the trumpet that there was a crisis, by developing the resources to deal with the crisis, and by continuing to press forward to maintain the other functions of the city such as: a) economic development – partnership with the Lear Corporation to bring more jobs, and b) the increase of public safety – through the implementation of Project C.A.T.T. EYE and by adding 36 additional firefighters which prompted the reopening of the Atherton Road fire station.
Millions of dollars have been poured into the development of downtown Flint. How would you develop other areas of the city and what areas do you think need more focus?
I support the efforts of the North Flint Reinvestment Corporation in trying to revitalize the north side of Flint. As a Councilperson, I will advocate bringing additional resources to the redevelopment of north Flint. Downtown Flint, for the most part, is in the 5th Ward, so naturally, I applaud the efforts of the Uptown Reinvestment Corporation and others in making sure the city’s hub is bustling and thriving. I alluded to reinvigorating Smith Village earlier and trying to encourage developers to construct housing developments in the many acres of vacant land in the city. University Park and the Country Club subdivision have proven there is a market for new housing in the city proper.
A complaint from some millennials is the lack of opportunity in Flint. How would you tackle that issue in hopes of keeping young people in Flint?
That question is tied directly to economic development and creation of jobs. The more businesses and industries that locate in Flint, the better our chances of retaining the talent we invest in from Kindergarten through college in Flint. With the fledgling Flint Promise recently established by Tom Gores and the Consumers Energy Foundation, perhaps leverage can be exercised to keep the recipients of those scholarship funds in Flint for a certain period after graduation, in exchange for those scholarships. If we initiate such criteria, we must have jobs available.
What is your opinion about blight in Flint and how would you tackle it?
One of the big issues in the 5th Ward and other wards throughout the city of Flint is blight. In my opinion, blight is directly related to criminal activity. With the increased number of vacant lots, abandoned buildings, and dilapidated houses; vandalism, loitering, and other criminal acts such as illegal dumping is on the rise. First, I would make sure we are enforcing all illegal dumping, vandalism, and litter laws on the books. Secondly, I would engage our block clubs, neighborhood associations, and crime watch organizations in the 5th Ward to become even more vigilant to illegal dumping and other criminal activity. Thirdly, if resources permit, I would advocate to place video cameras in areas that are most susceptible to illegal dumping and other criminal acts.
How would you build better communication with the administration in hopes of unifying the two bodies to work for the betterment of the Flint community?
Communication is a two-way street. Having said that, I would build better communication with the administration by making sure I communicate with the Mayor on the issues she brings to the City Council in order to get a clearer perspective firsthand. Likewise, I would expect the Mayor to have an open ear to the concerns of my constituents. I will take my seat on the Council without any preconceived notions or agendas, and I will keep an open mind and listening ear to all my city hall colleagues.
What are the top three top goals that you hope to accomplish as a City Council member?
The top three goals I hope to accomplish are, 1) Resolving the Flint water crisis and restoring trust in the water system; 2) Economic development and creation of jobs; and 3) Community development, completing Smith Village and advocating for additional development in the Ward.
If there was one thing you could tell all Flint residents what would it be?
Your vote is your voice!!