News Hits and a few dozen folks gathered for a forum in the basement of Mt. Zion Baptist Church on Detroit’s east side last week. What we found unusual — and refreshing — about the event was that the 11 candidates who showed spent most of the 2 1/2 hours with their mouths closed. Thanks to the nonprofit group Eureka Communities, which sponsored the event, candidates were asked to listen to what voters want from them.

What they heard, repeatedly, is that the next mayor must pay attention to Detroit’s youth.

Doreen Turk-White, Empowerment Zone Coalition executive director, told the candidates that the substance-abuse programs her organization runs for youth ages 12 to 17 need more prevention dollars.

“No one ever asks us what we want,” complained Cassie Stafford, 19. The Martin Luther King Jr. High School graduate, who now attends the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, also criticized the city for failing to provide a vision for keeping young people in the city.

“We graduate, we go,” she said. “Why should we stay?”

None of the candidates had much of an answer to Stafford’s question.

Ann Mullen contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]

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