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Detroit City Council elects new leaders

City of Detroit

 The Detroit City Council voted on new leadership Tuesday, and selected Saunteel Jenkins as its new President.

“It feels humbling. It feels good,” said Jenkins, noting she sits in the seat once held by her late mentor, longtime Council President Maryann Mahaffey.

Jenkins replaces Charles Pugh, who has vanished from the public eye amidst allegations of a questionable relationship with a teenager.

Emergency manager Kevyn Orr stripped Pugh of his salary and duties after he didn’t show up for several straight Council meetings.

Former President Pro-Tem Gary Brown resigned to take a job in emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s office. The Council selected member Andre Spivey to replace Brown.

The Council has very limited powers because Detroit has an emergency manager.

But Jenkins says they can force more transparency--especially as Detroit holds critical closed-door talks with its creditors in what could be a prelude to municipal bankruptcy.

“Whichever direction we go in, I think Council will have a very critical role to play in making sure the discussions, and any decisions that are being made…are discussed openly for the public to see,” Jenkins said.

The nine-member City Council is down to just six members. Former Councilman Kwame Kenyatta has also resigned since Orr took office.

Orr has ordered that those vacancies go unfilled until the next round of Council elections in November.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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