Elena Herrada is a Detroit community activist and the leader of the non-profit organization, Centro Obero (Worker Center). She also serves as an adjunct professor at Marygrove College.
Herrada is running for a seat on the Detroit Charter Commission because she believes there needs to be a structural change in the charter to decentralize power from the mayor and give more authority to the city council. She also supports council by districts. This stance is in line with an organization she co-founded, the Committee for the Political Resurrection of Detroit, which seeks to bring progressive change to a city that some believe is burdened with a conservative, business-as-usual political infrastructure.
“I have reviewed the charter and discussed it with many people from many different perspectives,” said Herrada. “We all live with what is in it, what is left out of it, and what is ambiguous and left to interpretation.”
If elected she plans to provide a charter that clearly states how to remove public officials who have violated public trust; one that closes loopholes in Detroit expenditures, lawsuits and civil settlements; that authorizes prosecution of officials that break the law, and prevents pension board members from traveling on public funds or from benefiting through gifts, parties and other perks.
“I hope to be elected in this citywide race to encourage other regular people to run for office with genuine ideas of how to make things better for all Detroiters,” she said in a recent statement.
Herrada is also a staunch defender of Mexican immigration, citing their struggle to find economic stability and basic human rights. Her grandparents were immigrants and activists who came to Detroit from Mexico in the 1920s. Herrada says that they were also companions of legendary Mexican patriots Pancho Villa and Emilano Zapata.
She believes that Mexican immigration is a human rights issue because many immigrants have been deprived of their right to work with the enactment of NAFTA which empowered huge corporations to decimate jobs and, consequently, the number of immigrants has increased dramatically in recent years.
“It’s like having long lost relatives visit,” Herrada said of Mexican immigrants arriving in Detroit. “Everybody that I’ve talked to in our community is happy to have them.”
Steven Malik Shelton is a journalist and human rights advocate. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.