YPSILANTI, MI – Business owner Brian Jones-Chance hopes to serve his hometown and neighborhood by addressing inequity for residents of Ypsilanti’s south side.
Jones-Chance, a real estate agent and chairman and chief operating officer of 734 Brewing Company in Depot Town, was selected to fill the Ward 1 council seat vacated when Lois Richardson was sworn in as mayor when previous mayor Beth Bashert resigned.
He was appointed unanimously to fill the position on Tuesday, Aug. 18.
Three candidates were interviewed for the position at a special meeting on Aug. 11. Toi Dennis withdrew her candidacy before the vote on Tuesday, telling City Council her position as an attorney with a local nonprofit prohibits her from holding partisan office. She said her employer allowed her to apply, but only later determined that though she was applying for an appointment without a political affiliation, the partisan nature of Ypsilanti’s City Council was incompatible.
City Council also interviewed Lawrence Wartley Jr., a longtime emcee for downtown’s Fall Festival, for the vacancy.
Jones-Chance, 34, said he wants to address the root causes of inequity during his tenure. One method, he said, would be by encouraging businesses and residents to engage with the city. He said a group he helped start, the Association of Businesses of Color, could have a requirement for members to join civic organizations, commissions or trade groups.
“(Businesses can) plug themselves in into what’s happening and gain equity that way, and then reach back to pull some others up from areas like Ward 1,” he said Wednesday.
He also said he wants to make Ward 1 residents aware of city meetings and ways to get involved with local government.
“I want to address some of the apathy that I used to feel by making sure that they know the dynamics of city government have changed, and that they have the ear of Council, they have the ear of others at various levels of government or on commissions and who know what they’re going through from lived experience,” he said.
Jones-Chance previously said he wanted to join the council because he’s a lifelong Ward 1 resident and he wants to give back to his community. He grew up in the city’s south side on Monroe Street and has lived in the ward most of his life, save for several years living out of state.
“I’m committed to reaching back and lifting up as much of the ward as I can in my short time,” he said.
Jones-Chance, 34, will serve the remainder of Richardson’s Ward 1 vacancy, ending Nov. 9, at the swearing in of the new City Council after the November election.
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