Detroit Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire: Sharon McPhail

Sharon McPhail

Q: If elected in the May special run-off election, and, assuming you are among the two finishers in the August primary, what three things can you promise to accomplish before the November run-off election?


• Resolve the city's credit issues by developing and submitting a plan to the rating agencies that will eliminate the junk-bond status.

• Design and implement a department-by-department redesign plan, as I did in Workforce Development, which will increase accountability and performance, providing the citizens with better service delivery.

• Implement the work-zone design for neighborhood involvement in the city's overall redesign of the departments   and the 100 Plus plan for safety. 

Q: Depending on who is doing the estimating, the city of Detroit faces a potential budget deficit of $100 million to $200 million by the end of this fiscal year in June. Name three specific cuts you'd make to help balance the budget and the savings they'd achieve.


• Departmental review of benefits being paid to employees who no longer work in the city, computer licenses that are not being used, management that is not coming to work, etc. Estimated savings: 100 million

• Coordinate delivery of services with surrounding areas. Estimated savings: 30 million

• Redesign and initiate new process for assessor's office, resulting in new revenue of more than 200 million.

Q: The city of Detroit continues to lose thousands of residents a year. Name one innovative program that you'd implement to reverse that trend.

A: The Detroit Children's Fund, which I first proposed in 1993 when I won the primary for Mayor.

Q: Do you think Detroit should continue to send garbage to its waste-to-energy incinerator?

A: The strategy for the elimination of the use of the incinerator will be as follows:

• Eliminate handling inefficiencies at transfer stations
• Segregate compost from bulky waste
• Establish recycling
• Create electronics recycling program
• Litter campaign
• Create plan to address construction debris
• Address wood chip, Emerald ash borer  issue

These short term strategies will enable the City to develop a long term plan to eliminate incinerator use.

Q: To reduce dependence on foreign oil and address the problem of climate change, President-elect Obama is promising that the federal government will make significant expenditures to promote the development of green technologies and energy-efficiency programs. What would you do as mayor to help Detroit become a leader in the "green economy"?

A: Curb-side recycling; improved public transportation as an alternative to driving; Funding neighborhood groups to plant and tend green spaces within their neighborhoods; Bike Lanes on all main roads with a system of high level fines for anyone found driving in them; closing parks to vehicle traffic on Sunday afternoons to allow for family picnics.

Q: Can you recount a difficult situation that required you to display a high degree of personal integrity?

A: Dozens of them…but what they were and what I did and said in those situations is privileged, as I represented the individuals. Detailing those situations is prohibited by the Michigan Rules of Professional Responsibility.  

I did learn of the use of privileged information by a member of the City Council and, while I believed that her violation of the ethical rules that govern elected officials should be revealed, I had to exercise the integrity that was required of me and discuss it with her directly.

Q: What is one of the biggest mistakes you've made in your life, and what did you learn from it?

A: I declined a major opportunity out of a sense of loyalty to a client and I later determined that the client was not telling me the truth.  When given an opportunity to demonstrate his loyalty to me, he did not do so.  What I learned is that we must do what we do for our own reasons and because of who we are, and that we should not expect reciprocity.

Q: Name one of your favorite books (other than the Bible). Why is it significant?

A: The Nature of Prejudice and Situation Ethics:  They demonstrate a high level of analytical thinking.

Q: Tell us what one of your favorite movies is, and why it is that you like it so much.

A: Anything starring Angela V. Shelton, the funniest woman in America.  The new Aniston movie, "He's Just Not that into you" is one such movie.

Q: Is there a piece of music or work of art that moves you deeply? Tell us why.

A: Erte sculpture, Degas sculpture, Monet landscapes.
I am a country music, Motown and classical fan, among other styles. I really like the Nancy Wilson song "If I could", the Luther Van Dross song, "Dancing with my father"; Lee Ann Rimes song "I hope you dance" and Bach's "Joy of Man's Desiring" .

Q: What was your nickname as a kid?

A: My father called me Princess. My grandmother called me Sunshine, or Sunny. Other than that, I did not have nickname.

Scroll to read more Metro Detroit News articles
Join the Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join Detroit Metro Times Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.