Mary Sheffield, District No. 5

God's co-pilot.

The morning after Mary Sheffield learned she had beaten Adam Hollier in her bid for a seat on city council, the co-pastor of New Destiny Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit enjoyed a muted, mildly stoical celebration. 
Aware she has a real job on her hands — and determined to hit the ground running, Sheffield had plenty to say when we spoke to her, much of it well-rehearsed with more than a hint of the sound bite. Still, we jabbed and probed and she opened up a little.

When asked how she plans to fulfill the responsibilities of her office while under an emergency manager, Sheffield said, “I’m going to continue to do my job. I think it’s important that council has the sort of leadership that is not silent about the fact that the emergency manager should not be here. I haven’t met Kevin Orr yet. I expect I’ll be talking with him soon.”

Sheffield has lived in District 5 since moving out of her parents’ home seven years ago. “I grew up on the west side, maybe 15 minutes from this area,” she says. “I was going to Wayne State University and I got an apartment here in the district. I ran for state representative in 2010, and that’s when I really started to develop a passion and love for this area and its residents. 

“So here comes City Council, and now I’m able to really get back out into the faces of the same voters from 2010. It’s been a great experience — to learn about all the issues and meet so many people who care about Detroit.”

Sheffield hasn’t made any rash promises to the residents of her district, but she has a clear idea of what need to be done. “The abandonment of homes, the appearance of the district, is something that has to be worked on,” she says. She stresses the importance of “the safety within our neighborhoods. The violent and vicious crime that takes place within our neighborhoods has to stop. People should not have to live scared. I also think we need to get to the root of the crime issue in our community. The fact there are no jobs, there’s a lack of opportunities for our young people — young people are lost.”


Total District Population: 98,100
Voting Population ( >18 ): 77,216 (78.7%)
Voter Turnout: 20.5%
Percentage of Vote Won: 53%

Hispanic: 1,127
Non-Hispanic White: 6,706
Non-Hispanic African American: 87,311
Other: 2,956

Per Capita Income: $16,613
Percent of Households in Poverty: 36%

Percent without High School Diploma: 22.4%
Percent with High School Diploma: 31.8%
Percent with Some College: 24.9%
Percent with Associate’s Degree: 5.8%
Percent with Bachelor’s Degree: 8.3%
Percent with Master’s Degree or Greater: 6.8%
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