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The “Getting to know our elected officials” feature is designed to provide access into the minds of local public figures. This week we spoke with Ecorse City Councilman Nathaniel Elem who chatted with us about growing up in Ecorse, the most enjoyable aspects of his position, personal hobbies and interests, and much more.
How long have you served on the Ecorse City Council?
This is my sixth term as a councilman in Ecorse.
Why did you want to run for this position?
I really wanted to help bring Ecorse back to where it used to be, which included getting the city out of bankruptcy. I knew that we also needed to get more residents and businesses to come back to the area, and you can’t get business owners unless you have people living here. I ran because I wanted to change all of that.
Did you grow up in the Ecorse area?
Yes, I was born in 1934 at 3961 13th street. I graduated from Ecorse HighSchool in 1952. I eventually went away to Detroit Institute of Technology, and was later employed by Ford Motor Company. In 1968, when changes were being made during the Civil Rights Movement, I became the first salaried minority at Detroit Steel, where I worked for 31 years before retiring.
By Shelby Jefferson – Telegram Staff Reporter
During your time on the council, what have you done to personally bring change to the city, and what do you hope to do in the future?
This position is obviously political, but I’ve brought my experience from the business arena. I worked extensively with people and union contracts, so I’ve been able to incorporate the business side of everything into my role as a councilman. In the future, I’d like to help improve housing development within the city. Specifically, we have to bring in more residents if we want to maintain our school system. No one wants to come to a city without good schools for their kids to attend, so this is something I hope to change.
What do you enjoy most about your position?
I enjoy working with the people and trying to solve some of their problems. If they have issues, I have them as well. Right now, I’m also enjoying helping the city come out of receivership.
Are there any upcoming city developments residents should know about?
We will have some town hall meetings in the future. The schedule hasn’t be set yet, but that’s forthcoming. Also Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be using grant money to redo the city projects. This is process that will take up to 2 years to complete in different phases. It will be started later this year.
What hobbies/interests do you engage in during your leisure time?
I’m a sports fan, so I like going to baseball and basketball games. On occasion, I also go out and play golf. I’m affiliated with the Masons and would like to get more involved with the organization because they do a lot of charity work in the community. Additionally, I attend church at Pine Grove Missionary Baptist Church on Electric, and I love good music. Lastly, I’m always involved with my grandchildren; I have 13 grandkids and 15 great grand-kids.
How can residents get in touch with you if they have a concern?
They can email me at