Making Government Work

The Washington PAC Fighting to Save Detroit

June 19, 2014
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The Washington PAC Fighting to Save Detroit
Detroit, Michigan. Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Ex-Michiganders give the Motor City a voice thousands of miles away in the nation's capital.

We all have a bit of pride when it comes to our hometown. But a group of Detroit natives are proving their allegiance runs beyond local sports teams and are using the power of politics to show their loyalty.

Two Washington, D.C. residents have launched Detroit XPAC, a political action committee funded by donations from the Motor City’s expatriates across the country. The goal is to tap the influence of Michigan’s professional youth that have left the state but still have a vested interest in rebuilding its fledging city.

“We are just a bunch of people from Michigan, from Detroit, who really love this city and want to see it doing well,” Farber said. “It can be amazing. And it’s getting there again.”

Registered at both state and federal levels, the PAC uses contributions to support candidates who have progressive ideas about rebuilding Detroit through economic and sustainable environmental policies, according to the National Journal.

Though the group is still small, it operates a national advisory board as well as a Capitol advisory board to assist with reaching lawmakers on the hill. Most of its members are volunteers who work in urban design or on environmental issues.

The PAC is currently focusing on four or five state, local and federal races, but hasn’t made any endorsements just yet. This year’s pilot run is a precursor to 2016, when the PAC hopes to use its influence for the larger election.

Farber is hoping to reshape the city that shaped her by helping decide who will lead Detroit out of decline. While some current residents may find outside influence on elections a bit disconcerting, Farber argues the PAC’s interest is genuine.

“Part of the reason we thought we should tap into the expats is because it’s a community that isn’t being focused on, and yet we’re all over the country,” she said. “We wanted to prove that the borders of Michigan don’t stop people’s love for the state or where they grew up.”

The group bills itself as nonpartisan but Farber confesses the group leans toward Democratic candidates, who tend to have more progressive ideas. For now, the PAC is readying questionnaires to send out to candidates to hear more about their ideas in the races it plans to endorse.

The PAC is also aiming to create similar advisor boards for New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Denver, and Los Angeles.

“There are people on the wrong side of the aisle who think you can defund Detroit, you can cut off its resources, you can ignore it, you can pretend it doesn’t exist,” Dorsey said. “We believe that we must have people who are thinking through how to deliver for the economy in the best interests of citizens of Detroit and to protect the environment.”

Clearly, just because those citizens don’t live within Michigan state limits doesn’t mean they care any less about its long-term success.

MORE: Detroit’s Newest Parking Garage Becomes An Unlikely Canvas

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