Former Genesee County treasurer Dan Kildee let it be known Friday, January 22nd that he was seriously considering joining the race for governor. Now that Lt. Governor John Cherry has withdrawn from the race, Kildee said he will make up his mind on whether or not to run within 30 days. First however, he says he will explore whether he will be able to garner the support and funding he would need to run. He also says that he will wait to find out what some of the other prospective candidates will do.. Kildee has an enthusiasm for helping to restore urban areas; he has done significant work helping to renovate run-down areas in Flint, and has also helped in Grand Rapids and Saginaw. While working as Genesee County Treasurer and Genesee County Land Bank Chairman, he has been responsible for heading projects such as the demolition of 11,000 abandoned properties in Flint, and turning the Durant Hotel, which was abandoned for 35 years into an apartment complex.
On January 1st, Kildee became head of a national land use non-profit organization based out of Washington, D.C. This organization assists urban areas across the U.S. in demolishing ruined property and transforming those areas into new buildings and parks, among other things. The idea is that by consolidating urban areas, cities will be able to also consolidate the services they deliver, such as policing neighborhoods, maintaining fire hydrants, and paving streets, which will save them money. Kildee says that not only does this shrink a city, but that it also makes it stronger and better.
If Kildee does decide to run for Governor, and is subsequently elected, the implications on housing and community development policy in Michigan are immense. The government would take an extremely proactive stance on attempting to help restore run down urban areas and getting rid of derelict properties that only drain resources from the state. Although the idea of consolidating urban areas and therefore saving resources does sound appealing, it has yet to be proven. It will take years to truly see the impact Kildee's work in Flint will have on the city. Thus, a shift towards more government involvement in urban renewal projects statewide may not necessarily provide all the benefits the idea promises.
So far though, the signs have been positive. Properties that have been idle for years will be renovated into more productive assets, such as new apartment complexes, or even public parks. By removing dilapidated housing and turning it into useful property, communities will begin to shape up, residents will be enticed to stay and urban decay will slow. If all this is to happen, Kildee first must decide if he is going to run and then get elected. But if he does end up becoming governor, expect major changes in the way Michigan deals with the issue of housing and community development.