Former Detroit mayor and four-term City Council member Ken Cockrel, Jr., who has served Detroit with honor and distinction has announced that he will not seek reelection in this November’s municipal elections, according to a release from Cockrel’s office. After 18 years of continuous public service, Cockrel said that it is time for him to refocus. “I feel the time is right for me to seek new challenges, new opportunities and new ways to help Detroit,” Cockrel said. Cockrel was first elected to City Council in November 1997 after serving for three years on the Wayne County Commission.
He was reelected in 2001 and again in 2005 when he became City Council president. His current term began in January of 2009. During his more than 15 years on the council he has passed and fought for laws ensuring that Detroit’s contractors are paid timely, stiffer zoning regulations of liquor stores, pawn shops and group homes, and expanded city job opportunities for ex-felons. Cockrel became mayor in September 2008 following the resignation Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Though he did not win election to the post in the May 2009 special election to fill the seat, he had a significant impact during his brief time as mayor.
As mayor, Cockrel restored people’s trust and faith in city government. Successful efforts included negotiating the creation of the regional authority that now operates and is expanding Cobo Hall and avoiding city bankruptcy after a credit rating downgrade impacted a municipal credit swap agreement. He also led an effort to put police back in neighborhoods by opening several new police mini-stations, reopening the 10th Precinct, and facilitating the creation of Detroit’s first mobile precinct to support major events and community-based policing.
Cockrel is also the founder and chair of the Detroit City Council Green Task Force and has championed a sustainable agenda for the City of Detroit. He has passed both anti-idling and green purchasing ordinances and spearheaded the adoption of Detroit’s Non-Motorized Plan, which thus far has produced 62 miles of bike lanes in the city. Also while mayor, he created an Office of Energy and Sustainability and launched a curbside recycling pilot project that continues to this day. A cum laude graduate of Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Print Journalism, Cockrel is a former reporter for the Detroit Free Press, the Grand Rapids Press and the Cincinnati Inquirer.
He is also a former columnist for The Metro Times. Cockrel is a graduate of the inaugural class of the Michigan Political Leadership Program at Michigan State University as well as the Program for State and Local Government Officials at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. In fall 2011 he earned a master’s degree in international affairs from Irish-American University in Dublin, Ireland. He is currently chair of the City Council’s Committee on Budget, Finance, and Audit and the vice chair of the Committee on Planning and Economic Development.
He also serves as a board member of the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy, the Detroit Jazz Fest, and Tour Detroit. In addition he is a member of the advisory boards for Bridging Communities and ACLU Michigan. Ken Cockrel, Jr. and his wife, Kimberly, have two sons, Kenneth III and Kyle Vincent, and three daughters, Kennedy Victoria, Kendal Imani and Kayla Lanette. Cockrel said that though he will be leaving the City Council table, he intends to remain active in neighborhood, civic and political affairs.
“I’m not going anywhere. I will definitely remain a staple on the Detroit scene,” he said. “I truly believe that Detroit’s best days are ahead of it and I’m eager to be a part of it.