School district dean Toson Knight to run for Detroit City Council
Detroit – Toson Knight, dean of the city’s public school district students and youth mentor, is the youngest name known to explain his plans for a seat on Detroit’s east side city council.
Knight, 34, made his campaign announcement Monday at Eden Gardens Park in the City Council’s 4th district, praising residents “standing in the void” for improving the community.
“A lot of people forget the north side of 94, that’s District 4, but I’m here to tell you I won’t forget you,” Knight, a six-year-old resident of the district, told a crowd of a few dozen residents and supporters . “I understand the problems our people go through.”
Knight joins former Detroit Free Press reporter ML Elrick and retired Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Virgil Smith.
The three are expected to compete for the seat of the district that incumbent councilor Andre Spivey has long held and which will seek a seat at large in the 2021 race.
Knight, founder of the Caught Up nonprofit mentoring group, extolled his community connections and history of working with corporations, faith groups, and local groups to rebuild the community.
Knight, dean of culture at Western International High School and former assistant district manager of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, was joined by community groups and Senator Adam Hollier, D-Detroit, Monday night.
The borough on the east side is home to the East English Village neighborhood and businesses like Ascension St. John Hospital.
Sandra Turner Handy, president of the Denby Neighborhood Alliance and head of the 9th Precinct Community Relations Council, was with residents to speak Monday ahead of Knight’s announcement. Turner Handy said she feels underrepresented but believes Knight will carry her voice downtown.
“He’s been in the church, he’s part of the church, and he’s a member of the family of that church,” she said.
In February, Smith told The Detroit News that he was preparing to run a run for the district seat, noting that his son, a former senator on a plea contract, would be one of his key advisors.
Smith, a former state official who becomes the first chairman of the Black Michigan Senate in Michigan history, has a strong feeling that he can lead District 4 and solve some of the problems the city is facing.
Smith’s son Virgil K. Smith, who also worked in Michigan law before serving in Wayne County Jail in 2015 for shooting his ex-wife’s car, said the campaign began in January with the Start collecting signatures.
The elder Smith previously told The News that “my son had some problems” but he “addressed them in a way that brought him maturity”.
Spivey said last month he would be aiming for one of two seats on the nine-member council. The city council called in petitions to collect signatures for a seat at large.
Elrick, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who lives in the East English Village, formed a candidate committee in December.
Podcast host “Soul of Detroit” is best known for his investigative reports that involve elected officials, including Spivey and other current and former city council members.
Spivey Chief of Staff Keith Jones has also petitioned for the District 4 seat. As of Monday, Knight was the only candidate to be certified so far, election records show.
The Detroit council chairman makes $ 86,967 a year. Other council members receive $ 82,749 per year.