At 21 years of age, Ken Snapp is guaranteed to be the youngest challenger to incumbent Mayor Mike Duggan in this year’s mayoral campaign, but that doesn’t mean he is not taking his challenge seriously – or that he should not be taken seriously. Snapp dropped by the Michigan Chronicle last week to talk about his campaign and answer a few questions.
What did you think about Mayor Duggan’s State of the City speech?
We know that he uses the media to promote things that are going on in the city. Traditionally, the State of the City is to deal with what’s going on in the city, where we’re at financially for this quarter, for this fiscal year. I would like to hear that. I want to hear what the budget would be. I also didn’t appreciate that people weren’t allowed to come in. It was invite-only. We pay your salary, so why weren’t the citizens allowed[in]? I think that he strategically put it there so he wouldn’t be subject to hecklers or whatever it may be, which is totally incorrect. You’re the mayor. It comes with the territory. You get heckled? So what. Fix it. …It wasn’t representative of the 85 percent of the people living in Detroit. I looked around and I was one of the only black people in there besides the ones that were in his cabinet.
His main thing was, every neighborhood has a future. That is a fallacy. His tone was, there are great things happening downtown, but we have yet to see funds allocated to these neighborhoods.
But what about the $30 million the mayor said has been allocated to help the neighborhoods?
I think that was only because of the re-election. What happened to it when he first got in office? I think that$30 million easily should have been here the first year. So now the money’s coming in? That seems kind of backward to the plan you stated [when you were first elected]. Every neighborhood has a future is what he was elected on.
If you’re a city employee, you can have housing for 50 % off from the Land Bank. It makes no sense. We have people struggling, people in foreclosure who have been displaced, but you can come in and rack up multiple properties at 50% off!
What about the mayor’s job proposal?
Well we’ve waited four years to start talking about jobs. This is what I mean by track record. We need jobs that have maintainable living wages. Because most of our constituents. …The average median income in the City of Detroit is $35,000 or less. That’s being decent and generous. Most people are making $600 bi-weekly.
*Snapp also discussed the implications of the city’s dramatically high rate of illiteracy, as well as the large number of those with debilitating criminal records.
What about the schools?
We have enough people here to sign a petition to release state control of the schools [through the financial review board]. We have to take back control of the schools. There is a State supremacy clause, I understand that. But there is also a federal supremacy clause. So we have to take it to the federal level. We have to make it a national thing and a global thing. And it has to be led by our administration.
What in your background prepares you for the job of being Mayor of Detroit?
Simply this; being of the people, for the people and by the people. As our Founding Fathers created the government. They didn’t have the credentials, but they did things that met the peoples’ agenda. That is what it’s about. My training within different political administrations, and different campaign administrations, and different stuff like that, has prepared me to understand how to properly appoint and move around and maneuver when inside my mayorship.
*Snapp added that he served a political internship with the Detroit City Council in District 4.
Why not start at City Council or School Board first? Why go straight to mayor?
This mission is God-sent first of all. I want people to understand that. …When there’s corruption there’s a problem. Just as a snake, you wouldn’t cut it off by the tail or by the midsection, you cut it off at the head. So that’s what we’re doing. If you’re going to fix something? In the system? That is corrupted and not working? As we know it’s not? You must go for the head, the highest position, because it’s from there you can do a total re-structuring of the infrastructure of that system.