Darci McConnell, a former reporter who now runs her own communications firm, has been named to fill a vacancy on the Grosse Pointe Park City Council.

Darci McConnell, a former reporter who now runs her own communications firm, has been named to fill a vacancy on the Grosse Pointe Park City Council.

Photo provided by Darci McConnell

Business owner and mentor becomes first Black member of Park City Council

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published November 20, 2020


GROSSE POINTE PARK — Grosse Pointe Park’s newest council member is making history in the city.

Darci McConnell — whose appointment was approved by a unanimous vote of the City Council during a special meeting Nov. 12 — is the city’s first Black council member.

“I think it’s terrific that we now have our first African American on the council,” Mayor Robert Denner said. “It better reflects the diversity of our community and the welcoming nature of our community.”

It’s a significant step for a city that has a troubled history with regard to race. Although about 86% of the population is white, the Park is now the most racially diverse of the Pointes, with a Black population of 8.4%, according to the most recent U.S. Census data.

McConnell is only the second person of color on the council, joining City Councilman Vikas Relan, who is of Indian descent; he was elected in November 2019. Her appointment means that the Park City Council now has three female members, as well.

“I’m still in disbelief,” said McConnell of finding out that she had won the appointment. “I’m very excited and humbled and overwhelmed.”

A 17-year resident of the Park, McConnell is a former reporter who has run her own company, McConnell Communications, for the last 16 years. A University of Michigan graduate with a bachelor’s degree in English/Communication, McConnell is a former board member of the Grosse Pointes-Harper Woods Branch of the NAACP and a precinct delegate for Precinct 5. A Lansing native, she interned with former Lansing City Council President Charles Creamer when she was a high school senior. She  learned more about the inner workings of municipal government as a reporter for 14 years. Her company has also worked on political campaigns.

McConnell was among a field of 15 residents who applied for the council vacancy, although two of those candidates dropped out of the running before interviews with all of them began Nov. 10, Denner said. The League of Women Voters of Grosse Pointe assisted with the candidate interviews.

“Through her background in journalism, she’s learned a great deal about government and how municipal government works,” Denner said. “It was clear to me she’s going to approach this as a collaboration or team across the council. She’s got excellent communication skills. She also has a great record of volunteer work.”

That includes work with Women of Tomorrow, Detroit Fishing Derby, Metro Detroit Veterans Coalition, Southwest Detroit Community Justice Center and Young Detroit Thinkers, among many others. She’s a former Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and she founded an adult literacy program through Plymouth United Church of Christ.

“Mentoring is my passion,” McConnell said. “Even though I don’t have kids of my own, I certainly feel like I do.”

She said she hopes to bring “a fresh set of eyes,” strong communication skills and her “passion for mentoring” to the table as a new council member. McConnell is also looking forward to getting involved in the city’s new Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She said she plans on being “open, honest and fair,” and, as an entrepreneur, she will be mindful of government spending.

Denner said he’s looking forward to working with McConnell, and many members of the community who know her have spoken highly of her.

McConnell’s application and interview stood out to Park officials, but Denner said they had a large field of strong candidates.

Denner said most of the council members commented on the “exceptional quality of the candidates that applied for the position. That’s an indicator of the talent we have in our city and the dedication of our residents, (and) that speaks well to our city, that we have so many people who want to be engaged and move the city forward.”

McConnell was named to fill the seat of former City Councilman Daniel Grano, who stepped down effective Sept. 28 because he was moving to another city. McConnell will serve the remainder of Grano’s term, which runs through the next general election in November 2021. She was sworn into office by City Clerk Jane Blahut Nov. 18.