Detroit City Council member and former Detroit mayor Kenneth Cockrel Jr. says he won’t seek re-election this year.
Cockrel is serving his fourth term on the City Council. He also served briefly as mayor after Kwame Kilpatrick resigned in 2008—but lost the follow-up election to Dave Bing.
In a statement released Tuesday, Cockrel says he’s decided that “now is the time” to leave the Council.
“Though I’ve been able to accomplish much during my four terms, I’ve also come to realize that in a strong mayor form of government, which our city charter prescribes, there are limits to how much a council member can accomplish. These limits are frustrating to me. I feel that I must seek new challenges, new opportunities, and new ways to help this city I love so dearly.”
Cockrel hints at future plans, though he’s not specific:
“Make no mistake, my heart remains with Detroit. I remain committed to helping our city overcome its current obstacles and realize its vast potential. But I also believe that I can best aid in that important work in a different way.”
Cockrel tells Deadline Detroit that emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s appointment didn’t play much of a role in his decision. Floated plans to pare back the Council—possibly even make it part-time—did influence his thinking.
Cockrel’s family has a deep tradition in Detroit politics. His father, Kenneth Cockrel Sr., was a well-known activist attorney and City Council member. His stepmother, Sheila Cockrel, also served on the City Council.
Cockrel’s departure also opens up the field for City Council candidates—both in his Council district, and city-wide. Detroit will elect 7 Council members by district for the first time in this election cycle. 2 candidates will run at-large.