By Carolyn Marnon – Just who is Jeremiah Webster? “I’m 30, have two kids (Nolan-5 and Kylie-8), wife Amara, married for three years. We actually got married at the First Congregational Church, born in Wayne at Annapolis,” answers Jeremiah Webster, the young man running to represent Ward 1 as City Councilman in the upcoming Recall Election.
Mr. Webster’s family has always lived in Wayne. His grandmother was active in church and Rotary activities. He remembers going to Wheelfest and attending the parades that went down Wayne Rd. He spent a lot of his childhood in Wayne. Although he has not always lived in Wayne, he has lived nearby in Belleville and Inkster. He and his wife and children have settled in Wayne.
Mr. Webster is currently serving on the City Council as an appointed councilman at large. He went through an interview process with about 14 other candidates when former Councilman Richard (Terry) Sutton resigned. His term expires in November. Many residents don’t understand why Mr. Webster, an already sitting councilman, would run in the special recall election against Councilman Christopher Sanders. He’s already a councilman, they say. Mr. Webster replies, “This is an opportunity to stay in council longer to keep serving the City.” He also lives in Ward 1, the Ward for which the election represents, and he’ll be able to serve until November 2020. If elected, he would be representing Ward 1 rather than being At-Large and can further represent the people of Ward 1 and the issues they face in their part of Wayne.
Mr. Webster feels that the upcoming Recall Election will show the will of the people. “Ultimately, it will be their will that decides what happens in May.” He says there are people who think there is a bias in the current appointment process to fill vacant seats on the council. “People have the power to change how it is to fill the vacant seat.” He says he is open to suggestions on how to fill vacant seats in the future and would support suggestions.
What issues is he finding important as a councilman for Wayne? New development is his number one issue. He wants to push to get properties that have been vacant for years and years to get new tenants. Some things are happening, he says. Planet Fitness is going into the old Sav A Lot building on Michigan Avenue. He thinks the City needs to get new revenue on the books to allocate for police and fire staffing. He realizes the City has trouble attracting people to locate business in Wayne due to the financial state of the city. “We need to keep pushing forward together to make things happen,” he says.
Mr. Webster lives off Van Born Rd, close to Canton and Romulus. He says Ward 1 is an industrial area. He thinks it’s important to identify what pollutants are being produced and if there are pollutants, what can be done about them. He would like to see a true listing of what waste is produced, how waste is discarded by these industrial businesses, are they up to industry standards in handling waste, how can their carbon footprint be reduced, get them to clean up contamination and help them find grants to resolve these issues.
A Brownfield Redevelopment Authority was recently formed in Wayne at the request of Community Development Director Lori Gouin. This Authority will be able to help property owners deal with contaminants on their land and remediate them. Mr. Webster says past city councils have just bought up land in the city when it became available, regardless if there was a need for it or not. He agrees that the land needs to be sold for redevelopment. “We are a business-friendly community,” he says. He wants Wayne to be able to show other developers that Wayne is a place they want to come to and invest in.
“We have an amazing crew of people,” Jeremiah says. “You won’t believe what they put up with, even though the city is struggling.”
While he is not a councilman, Jeremiah (as he likes to be called), is a property manager for McKinley. He manages a senior community high-rise in Taylor for residents 55 and older. The job has taught him patience, something he needs as a councilman.
He has learned how slow the political process moves while sitting on council. He says he is always asking questions behind the scenes. The slowness can be frustrating, although he says “Good things come to those who wait. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. We’re getting closer.”
Mr. Webster visits local businesses as often as he can. He feels Wayne’s hidden gems include Karma Coffee and Kitchen, Helium Studio and the newly opened Powers Woodcrafts. “It’s important to support our local businesses. If they thrive, we can get more (businesses). Wayne also needs clientele to support the businesses with offices, such as Saints, Inc which was recently approved by city council to build a new office building on the old vacant Frank’s Furniture lot.
Wayne could be considered a cost-effective place to live. It is between Detroit and Ann Arbor, both of which are getting to be more expensive to live in. Wayne is close to the expressways and the airport, “but you pay half of what you pay elsewhere,” says Jeremiah. He would love to see a developer come in and build a mixed-use building, one with shops and/or offices on the bottom and loft apartments above. Wayne offers bars, churches, parks, a well-known unique theater, and trails to residents. It all depends on “how creative you are and how you can make something work. Find a developer who would capitalize on that idea.”
As for Jeremiah’s personal life, he loves going to movies at the State Wayne, especially if they involve horror. Halloween is his favorite holiday. He enjoys reading true crime and anything by Stephen King or John Grisham. He also just likes hanging out at home with his family. He’s trying to do his part to have a better community for his kids to grow up in and is keeping future generations in mind. He wants to offer a family perspective on the council since he is the only one that has young kids.
“I’m just Jeremiah. I’m a citizen, a taxpayer, a husband and a father. I will listen to anyone. This is the will of the people, and they’ll have the ultimate decision. We all have one job and that is to keep the city moving forward.”
Jeremiah Webster will start campaigning closer to the election in May. He plans to hold coffee hours and speak one on one with residents of Wayne about their concerns. He can be reached at jweb2005@-hotmail.com, or by phone (734) 502-5289 between 4:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
One final statement: “It’s all about serving your city.”