Detroit City Councilmember Raquel Castañeda-López, one of the nine-member body's progressives, will not seek a third term, she announced Tuesday in a letter to district residents, citing a readiness to move on from the time-consuming role while creating room for others.
"Serving my city and my home for the past seven years has been one of the greatest joys and highest honors of my life," Castañeda-López said in the letter. "But I know this: the movement for social justice and an inclusive democracy was never about me. It is not just about one person or one politician — it is about the we."
Elected in 2013, the 39-year-old has been a staunch advocate for equitable development and a more holistic view of public safety, frequently voting no on tax breaks for deep-pocketed firms and recently attempting to reallocate millions from the city's police budget to programs that address crime at its root, like mental health and substance abuse treatment.
As the council's first Latina and one of its youngest members, Castañeda-López' two terms have not been without friction. Recently, she called for the body to undergo harassment, discrimination, bias and other training in light of workplace hositlity and intimidation she said she and her staff have experienced. Council President Brenda Jones and the city's Office of Civil Rights, Inclusion, and Opportunity (CRIO) questioned the merit of her complaints following an investigation.
Castañeda-López' did not cite the turmoil for her pivot, instead pointing to the at times overwhelming nature of the role and events of the last year. A former social worker, she said helping constituents meet their needs during the pandemic and the racial-justice uprisings of last summer are "really the work of who I am and embody my spirit," and that she was looking forward to eventually taking on a new role.
The lifelong Southwest Detroiter has endorsed former Wayne County Commission candidate and social worker Gabriela Santiago-Romero to carry the torch as a "strong voice of challenging the status quo and advancing the cause of social justice."