What do you know about Detroit candidates and their positions on civil rights and civil liberties issues?

At the ACLU of Michigan, we are passionate about a vast array of issues, including free speech, women’s rights, reproductive freedom, racial justice, LGBT rights, voting rights, immigrants’ rights, and criminal justice reform.

The ACLU of Michigan Metro Detroit Branch put together a candidate survey because we want our members and supporters to be well informed about the candidates’ positions on civil rights and civil liberties issues before they vote in the upcoming mayoral and city council races.

Unfortunately, neither of the mayoral candidates and only five of the council candidates responded. We appreciate those candidates that did take time to answer the series of questions.

The ACLU link below allows you to view the survey answers for those candidates who responded. In addition, we prepared a commentary on the ACLU perspective on the issues in the questionnaire. We suggest that you contact candidates, before or after the election, to let them know how you feel about these important issues.

Detroit Mayor

Michael E. Duggan Did Not Respond
Benny Napoleon Did Not Respond

Detroit City Council

District 1
Wanda Jan Hill Did Not Respond
James Tate Did Not Respond

District 2
Richard Bowers Jr. 
George Cushingberry Jr. Did Not Respond

District 3
Francine Adams Did Not Respond
Scott Benson Did Not Respond

District 4
Bettie Cook-Scott
Andre Spivey Did Not Respond

District 5
Adam Hollier
Mary Sheffield

District 6
Raquel Castañeda-López 
William I. Robinson Did Not Respond

District 7
John Bennett Did Not Respond
Gabriel Leland Did Not Respond

David Bullock Did Not Respond
Saunteel Jenkins Did Not Respond
Brenda Jones Did Not Respond
Roy McCalister Did Not Respond

Detroit City Council Candidates Contact Information

Detroit Mayoral Candidates Contact Information

2013 Election—ACLU of Michigan Candidate Questionnaire

1. The ACLU released a new report finding blacks were arrested for marijuana possession at 3.3 times the rate of whites in Michigan in 2010, despite comparable marijuana usage rates. Do you support removing all civil and criminal penalties for marijuana use and possession?

Yes. Across the country, the ACLU is calling for states to legalize marijuana. If that is not possible, the ACLU suggests removing all civil and criminal penalties for its use and possession; decriminalizing low-level marijuana possession by replacing all criminal penalties for use and possession of small amounts of marijuana with a maximum civil penalty of a small fine. 

2. Do you support amending Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to add protections to LGBT citizens in employment and public accommodation?

In Michigan you can be fired if someone thinks you’re gay or transgender. The ACLU of Michigan is mobilizing to stop this injustice, teaming up with a coalition of civil rights organizations and everyday Michiganders to launch the Don't Change Yourself: Change the Law campaign

3. Do you oppose implementation in Detroit of a stop and frisk training program that may be similar to the recently ruled unconstitutional by a federal court in New York?

The ACLU of Michigan has raised serous questions about the possible implementation of a New York City style stop and frisk program in a letter from Mark P. Fancher, Racial Justice Project staff attorney, to James E. Craig, Chief of Detroit Police.

4. Do you support public employers and universities using race-conscious policies that take into account race as one of many factors in enrollment and employment in order to attract a diverse work force or student body?

The ACLU of Michigan recently argued in the United States Supreme Court opposing Michigan’s Proposal 2 as unconstitutional because it bars students from lobbying universities to consider race as but one of nearly 100 factors in admissions. The ACLU supports the continued narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further the educational benefits that come from a diverse student body.

5. The ACLU of Michigan has opposed private employers who have challenged on religious grounds the new requirement under the Affordable Care Act (or “Obamacare”) that all employee health insurance plans include birth control prescription coverage. Do you agree that just as employers cannot rely on religion to discriminate against racial and religious minorities, they cannot rely on religion to ignore civil rights laws protecting women?

The ACLU of Michigan works to ensure that women are not denied information and the health care they need because of the religious views of their health care providers. 

6. States and localities have not been permitted to enact, enforce or implement federal immigration law. Do you oppose proposals to deputize local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration law?

The ACLU of Michigan has opposed local police practices that are discriminatory and encourage the harassment of innocent people perceived to be immigrants. 

7. The ACLU of Michigan has challenged as unconstitutional a state law that would have barred many public entities from providing health insurance to the domestic partners of their employees? Do you support providing health benefits to domestic partners of gay and lesbian public employees?

The ACLU of Michigan has obtained a temporary injunction in federal court against a state law that would have barred many public entities from providing health insurance to the domestic partners of their employees, arguing it to be unconstitutional.

8. Do you support the right of police, fire and other public employees to speak out publicly on matters of public concern?

The ACLU has long supported the right of public employees to speak out on matters of public concern. As an example, in a recent letter, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan urged the Ironwood Department of Public Safety to uphold the free speech rights of a firefighter who was threatened with discipline and termination for writing letters to the editor that were critical of city government.

9. The ACLU of Michigan sent a letter to the Detroit Police Department and filed a complaint with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) demanding an end to the Detroit police’s alleged illegal and abusive tactics toward homeless individuals in the city. Do you oppose the practice of “taking homeless people for a ride” – removing them from popular areas such as Greektown and driving them to remote areas of Detroit or the suburbs?

It’s illegal and unconstitutional for police to arrest or harass people who have committed no crime, simply because they appear to be homeless. A yearlong ACLU investigation uncovered the disturbing practice of officers approaching individuals who appear to be homeless in the Greektown area, forcing them into police vans, and deserting them miles away.

10. The Michigan State Police and other police agencies currently use electronic devices that can extract the contents of cell phones within moments. Do you support placing restrictions on the use of the devices?

The ACLU of Michigan has expressed concern about the possible constitutional implications of using portable devices that have the potential to quickly download data from cell phones without the owner of the cellphone knowing to conduct suspicionless searches without consent or a search warrant.

11. Do you support requiring private organizations and security firms that manage the Detroit RiverWalk and other public parks to be held to the same constitutional standards that government agencies must adhere to in upholding the free speech rights of Detroiters and visitors to leaflet or demonstrate?

The ACLU of Michigan regards it as well-established that a private entity is bound to honor the constitutional rights of individuals in the course of carrying out a function that is traditionally performed by the government.

12. The City of Detroit’s longstanding practice of allowing police officers to seize vehicles simply because they were driven to a location where unlawful conduct occurred is currently being challenged in federal court. Do you support changes to forfeiture policies and practices in the City?

The ACLU of Michigan has argued in federal court that the 2008 Detroit police raid of the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit in which 130 innocent CAID patrons were detained and their cars impounded was unconstitutional. Police had no evidence that the patrons had broken the law and no illegal drugs or weapons were uncovered during the raid.