Darci McConnell was appointed to a seat on Gross Pointe City Council last week, making her the first Black council member in the Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, according to The Detroit News. McConnell filled the position following the resignation of Dan Grano. She took the oath of office Wednesday afternoon (November 18) in a ceremony outside city hall.
“I’m grateful and honored and look forward to working with my new colleagues and serving the citizens,” McConnell said. She added that she “always had an affinity for local government” and was inspired by her family. Her grandfather, Leonard Robert McConnell, was the first Black chairman of Michigan’s parole.
Mayor Robert Denner said he works forward to working with McConnell. “It’s a great day in Grosse Pointe Park, which demonstrates that we’re a welcoming, spirit-successful and diverse community," he said.
McConnell is part of a trend of Black Americans breaking barriers and representing diversity in the Grosse Pointes. "In 2018, Sierra Leone Donaven was appointed to a seat on the Grosse Pointe Farms City Council, serving until losing her bid for a full term in the November 2019 election. Last year, attorney Terence Thomas was elected to the Grosse Pointe City Council. Earlier this month, Joseph Herd, who was the first Black man appointed to the Grosse Pointe school board in January, won election to a full term," according to TheDetroit News.
Greg Bowens, the founder of the Grosse Pointes-Harper Woods NAACP, said McConnell's appointment is "historic" and "important for several reasons."
"One is the African American population is the largest minority group in Grosse Pointe Park and the five Grosse Pointes. It really is about time that we have the representation in the five Grosse Pointes' most diverse neighborhood. That makes it historic," he said. According to a July 2019 U.S. Census Bureau estimate, 8.4 percent of Grosse Pointe Park's 11,000 residents are African American.
Councilwoman Lauri Read said McConnell was a "standout candidate in a pool of outstanding candidates." McConnell owns a public relations company and has an extensive background in communications strategy, crisis management, media relations, relationship building, marketing, advertising and political consulting.
"Ms. McConnell's background and communication skills will certainly be an asset to our council and our city," Read said. "After COVID, our aging infrastructure and our pension funding are key issues. Ms. McConnell demonstrated her awareness of these matters during the interview process and I believe she will bring her skills to the table as we tackle them."
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