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Getting to know our
Inkster Mayor Byron Nolen
By Shelby Jefferson – Telegram Staff Reporter
The “Getting to know our elected officials” feature is designed to provide access into the minds of local public figures. On deck this week is newly elected Mayor Byron Nolen who spoke with us about becoming the most recent head of the City of Inkster, biggest problems affecting the area, personal pastimes/hobbies, and much more.
This is your first run as mayor. How is everything going so far?
It’s been very busy. We have a lot of issues that we’re dealing with including a consent agreement, normal business issues, and pending charter amendments that have to be voted on. We definitely have a lot going on.
Did you grow up in Inkster? Where did you attend high school and college?
I’ve lived in Inkster for about 36 years (I’m 46 now). I attended Wayne Memorial High School, and later went to the University of Michigan. I additionally attended the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.
In addition to your mayoral duties, do you currently hold any other career positions?
Right now, Inkster’s mayoral position is only part-time. In the coming months however, I’m looking to make it a full-time job (that’s one of the charter amendments that will be proposed later this year). But currently, I’m still practicing law full-time.
What influenced your decision to pursue your current position?
As I looked at all of the issues our city was facing – from our lack of a business community, to state deficits and our failure to provide services to residents – I realized that I had to step up and try to make the situation better instead of relying on someone else to do it for us. Ultimately, that’s why I decided to run for mayor.
What do you see as the biggest problem facing your city today?
I believe that our biggest problem lies within our agreement with the State of Michigan; they basically provide oversight for us on just about everything we do. First off, it’s undemocratic because those elected by the people can’t make key decisions. That’s the number one thing we need to work on ending.
How can Inkster residents initiate improvements throughout the city?
Many of our residents want us to control our own government. Unfortunately, with the current setup, everything is run by a city manager who basically dictates what happens on a day to day basis. Essentially, there’s not anyone elected who can really act on the interests of the people.
The way the charter reads now, we have to elect a commission of nine members who can draft changes they would like to see. After that, we put everything on the ballot and allow the people to vote on changes to our government. By voting, the citizens can alter one of the biggest problems we’re facing as a city.
Down the line, when your time as mayor has finished, what legacy do you hope to leave?
I certainly want to leave Inkster in a much better situation than I found it. I would like to create an entertainment district right along Michigan Avenue, and bring retail businesses throughout the area to allow our residents to shop in their city (and those from other communities as well). I would also like to raise property values, and make the city more family friendly by introducing dog parks and walkways. Ultimately, I’d like to rebuild the entire city and its tax base, and leave a mark that will last down the line.
Going into the holiday season, are there any big events occurring in Inkster?
We don’t necessarily hold a big Christmas celebration within our city boundaries, however there are a lot of southern folks here in Inkster. Many of us will definitely be eating, going to church, spending time with family and enjoying our community.
Leading up to Christmas however, we do throw a lot of different holiday parties. Last week, there was one for senior citizens at the Booker Dozier Recreational Complex; it turned out really nice. The Inkster Housing Commission Resident Council will also have one for local children on Friday; we’ll all buy gifts for the youth to enjoy. We do that every year.
Do you engage in any hobbies/special interests in your leisure time?
I really like to travel. I just got back from Miami as a way to recharge my batteries. I additionally love sports. As a Wolverine alumni, I’m always watching Michigan football and basketball. Of course, I’m also a big Tigers, Red Wings and Lions fan.