Kate Fields – Ward 4
Occupation: Flint City Councilwoman
Why do you feel you are a good fit for Flint City Council?
I have an extensive background (both academic and experiential) in Public Administration. BA and MPA in Public Administration from UM-Flint (Master’s is Rackham in Ann Arbor). I created and was Executive Director of a Flint Based Community Development Corporation for 15 years. Accessed Federal, State and local funds to remove blight, built and rehabbed houses to Energy Star standards, became a HUD housing counseling agency to help prevent mortgage foreclosures, general provision of help with accessing low-income housing and mobilization and organization of community residents. I have been an instructor in the Master’s of Public Administration program at UM-Flint for the past 12 years. I teach both non-profit management and government classes.
What are the top five issues you want to focus on as a City Council member?
The most important issue at the moment is making the right decision regarding our Water Source Choices. This issue will affect generations to come and we must get it right. I would also like to find ways to eventually lower our water bills to something reasonable. Other issues include constituent services (including public safety), removal of blight, transparency and accountability in Flint City Government. Of course, economic development and the availability of jobs for residents is extremely important.
How would you help the city navigate through the water crisis?
I am currently one of the three Council members on the Water sub-committee. My goal has been to have an independent analysis conducted of our water issues and choices. Detroit has not served us well in the past and it’s part of the reason why water bills are so sky-high (price-gouging). I have done extensive research and FOIA’d the EPA, MDEQ, State Treasury, Governor Snyder’s office, City of Flint, GLWA, Genesee County Drain Commission and KWA to get real documents which I’ve then sent out in email blasts to the public. Information is power and I believe in the 60’s slogan “Power to the People”.
What would your water source recommendation be?
Still in process of getting that independent analysis but I will support the options that best serve the people financially and in all other areas including public health and maintaining our independence. The State has not made good decisions for Flint in the past and I refuse to be pressured into a hasty and ill-informed decision. I also believe there is real economic potential in retaining our portion of the KWA raw water (vital to certain manufacturers).
How satisfied are you with Flint’s current administration?
Extremely dissatisfied. I was the only Council person who refused to confirm the nomination of City Administrator Sylvester Jones and Police Chief Tim Johnson. Their resumes demonstrated a lack of qualifications or proper experience for those positions. The resulting job performance has been as I expected. Other key job positions have still not been filled two years’ into Mayor Weaver’s tenure. This includes positions at the Water Treatment Plant (despite the EPA consent decree), the DPW director, Director of Transportation, Finance Director and more. I continue to be appalled at Mayor Weaver’s reliance on her non-elected “volunteer” Aonie Gilcreast and “advisor” Woodrow Stanley. I am proud to have been the person who first questioned whether Mr. Stanley was receiving payment from the Rizzo Garbage company for trying to steer a city contract to that company. Subsequent indictments in the Detroit area have validated my vote against a contract with that company.
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?
Unfortunately, under Mayor Don Williamson the network of non-profit Community Development Corporations in Flint, went under. We used to have non-profits in most areas of the city that worked on Neighborhood Revitalization and Community Organizing. When Mr. Williamson refused to sign grant contracts for the non-profits Flint had to send (unspent) funds back to HUD. Without the core HUD funds, we couldn’t access State and most Foundation funding. I applaud all efforts everywhere and anywhere to improve areas of the City. I personally would like the City to help mentor new groups to assist with neighborhood redevelopment.
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?
You have to get involved and help make those opportunities for yourselves. Network, join like-minded individuals to set and achieve goals. Educate yourselves and remember, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity”.
What is your opinion about blight in Flint and how would you tackle it?
We have an official plan to address Blight in Flint. It’s called the Blight Framework and you can find that plan on the city’s website. We need to work the plan, get individuals, neighborhoods and groups involved. Teach your children about littering, picking up garbage and contributing to the overall needs of their own homes and the neighborhood. There is no easy answer to this one.
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?
I don’t think it is possible to communicate in a meaningful way with the current administration. Integrity is an issue here and it’s currently hard to find.
What are the top three top goals that you hope to accomplish as a City Council member?
Make the best and the right choice for Water Sources, 2) return some semblance of professionalism to City Council meetings so they can be productive and good decisions made, 3) provide the best constituent services possible under the current conditions and hopefully better conditions in the future.
If there was one thing you could tell all Flint residents what would it be?
Get involved in whatever way you can. Demand accountability and transparency. Learn more about how Government works, at all levels. Be informed and active.