Downtown Detroit is on the rise; buildings are being restored, new businesses are opening and The District Detroit will eventually become a revitalized sports district filled with amenities that any city would boast about, including parks, shops, theaters, bars and restaurants.
This resurgence of downtown brings consequences, however, as gentrification is becoming an unsettling reality for many long-time residents of the area. And for the neighborhoods of Detroit, life still looks different from the lives led by young professionals moving in. With failing schools, poverty and crime still being major issues in the city, there is still a lot of work to be done, something Mayor Mike Duggan recognizes.
But he won’t go unchallenged in the upcoming Detroit mayoral election in 2017.
Myya Jones is spearheading the call to action for millennials to care about and get involved in politics. If you haven’t yet heard, Jones is the 22-year-old Michigan State University senior challenging Duggan in November.
The day of the 2016 presidential election was the catalyst that pushed her to put her name on the ballot.
“I decided it was time for us to step up,” said Jones. “Us meaning millennials and women.”
Given her experience, her bid for mayor shouldn’t be surprising. She is the president of the National Panhellenic Council, is a member of Delta Sigma sorority, was formerly the president of Black Student Alliance, was awarded Member of the Year in the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), participated in the Arabic Flagship Program, was a guest student aid at UT Austin, participated in five study abroad programs, held two internships with Ernst & Young, interned at Visteon, and was a Google ambassador.
“I made sure I came to college and put myself in places and spaces where I can learn what I want to learn so that I am able to do what I want to do when I graduate,” said Jones. “I knew I wanted to go back to help out Detroit.”
She was also a congressional intern. It was there she noticed the lack of representation in our government systems.
“I always wanted to be involved in social action which is what really drove me to intern in Congress,” said Jones. “A mentor of mine said I should do the program because of all the work I was doing in school, outside of school and in the community.”
As a Broad College of Business student studying business management, Jones chose to focus heavily in finance on top of management. Her leadership roles in student organizations have been key to developing skills necessary to lead and facilitate change. Understanding how to play to the strengths of people and foster collaboration is something she believes she brings to the table.
It’s apparent Jones’ college experience is one she’s enjoyed.
“My hobbies are my orgs because I enjoy doing them,” said Jones. “This is fun, I enjoy this; this is why I’m doing it. Who is able to say that the stuff they do for work is fun? And they enjoy doing that and that’s their hobby?”
Her platform focuses on public safety, economic development and child welfare; three issues she notes are the umbrella cast over other problems Detroit faces. Just as important as policies and investment in Detroit, Jones wants to be a local role model for young girls to look up to; something she didn’t have when she was growing up, unless that person was an actress or singer in the entertainment business.
“Not that they aren’t doing work, but hands-on work in the community — you don’t see those figures too often,” said Jones. “People say these people only want to become singers or rappers, but that’s all we see. So, we believe the only goal we can accomplish is being a singer or a reality television show star. We have to show them not just what they can accomplish as far as entertainment, but for what we actually have the capability of achieving as well. That’s what I want to bring focus to.”
While Jones is used to her on-the-go lifestyle, she still has to take time to focus on herself.
“I’m trying to make sure I’m balancing everything,” said Jones. “It’s life. You gotta go through and make sure you’re keeping everything organized. This is a lot, but nothing that I can’t handle.”
You can follow her campaign through her website at www.myyadjones.com and on twitter at @myyadjones