Thursday, November 19, 2020

Darci McConnell breaks racial barriers with appointment to Grosse Pointe Park City Council

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2020 at 1:09 PM

click to enlarge Grosse Pointe Park Councilwoman Darci McConnell. - DARCI MCCONNELL
  • Darci McConnell
  • Grosse Pointe Park Councilwoman Darci McConnell.

Darci McConnell, a public relations expert and former newspaper reporter, will become the first African American to serve on the Grosse Pointe Park City Council.

McConnell was sworn in Wednesday afternoon after she was appointed to an open seat on Nov. 12 following the resignation of Dan Grano.

“I am still a little bit in disbelief, but I am really excited,” McConnell tells Metro Times. “It’s time to get to work.”

A graduate of the University of Michigan, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English and communications, McConnell is no stranger to local government and politics. As president and CEO of Detroit-based McConnell Communications, Inc., she routinely works with local municipalities and politicians. Among her first clients was then-Detroit City Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel. McConnell is also a frequent mentor and volunteers with nonprofits.

From 1996 to 2004, McConnell covered politics and governments as reporter for the Detroit Free Press and then The Detroit News.

In 1985, while in high school, McConnell interned for then-Lansing City Council President Charles Creamer.

Both of her parents retired from the state of Michigan, and her grandfather Leonard Robert McConnell was the first Black chairman of Michigan’s parole board.

“I have a legacy of public service in my family,” she says.

McConnell says she plans to begin meeting with residents Thursday night to hear their concerns.

“I want to talk to as many people as possible to find out what the residents’ priorities are,” McConnell says.

Among her priorities so far are updating infrastructure, long-term financial stability, recreation, and building a bridge between Grosse Pointe Park and Detroit.

Grosse Pointe Park is the most progressive of the Pointe communities. In each of the past two presidential elections, a majority of Grosse Pointe Park voters chose a Democrat.

About 8.5% of Grosse Pointe Park’s 11,000 residents are Black.

In 2018, Sierra Leone Donaven was appointed to the Grosse Pointe Farms City Council, becoming the first African American council member in any of the five Grosse Pointes.

Attorney Terence Thomas was elected to the Grosse Pointe City Council in 2019.

In January, Joseph Herd became the first Black man to serve on the Grosse Pointe Public School System Board of Education, and he was elected to a full term earlier this month.

Greg Bowens, founder and past president of the Grosse Pointe-Harper Woods NAACP, says McConnell’s appointment “is powerful step forward” for diversity in the Grosse Pointe communities.

“Black people make up the largest minority in Grosse Pointe, and it’s about time we see that reflected in city leadership,” Bowens tells Metro Times. “We’ve been dreaming about seeing those advancements made.”

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