Mayor Nicole Brown Strives to Make Ypsilanti a Better Place

On November 8, 2022, Nicole Brown became the first Black woman in Ypsilanti’s history to be elected Mayor. 

With 76% of the vote, Brown defeated nonpartisan challenger Amber Fellows and libertarian Mark Alan King.

Replacing former Mayor Lois Allen-Richardson, Ypsilanti’s first Black woman Mayor, Brown wants to continue the work Allen-Richardson began. Allen-Richardson was appointed into office in 2020. 

Recently Brown started working on Dorsey Estates, a housing project begun by the former Mayor. 

“We have a development. It’s at 220 N Park St. The Dorsey Estates was approved by the previous council,” Brown said. “We’re making sure that everybody knows how exciting this is. We haven’t had a new development in Ypsi in some years. The Dorsey Estates will provide new housing opportunities for families and individuals to purchase homes.” 

Building near the Ypsilanti downtown region, Dorsey Estates is a mixed-income residential condo development that will have 46 units. The new estates will also provide affordable housing options.

Brown stated that she wants to create more affordable housing units beyond The Dorsey Estates. 

“I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up if they don’t happen, but there are spaces in the community that are not being utilized right now, spaces that we could use for a plethora of things, and housing is always at the top of my mind,” Brown said. “There are big spaces where we can get people into affordable homes.”

In addition to Ypsilanti’s housing, Brown wants to help create and support mental health programs. 

Brown earned her Bachelor of Science in Communication & Social Work and Master of Social Work from Eastern Michigan University. She states the addition of mental health programs could lead to the creation of non-police crisis intervention teams.

Photo provided by Nicole Brown.

“I’m strongly connected to anything with mental health. One of my goals is to partner with our local jurisdictions to create a non-police Crisis Intervention Team,” Brown said. “We’ve had conversations about this before the election, just coming together to pool our resources. So there are organizations who want to provide volunteers or be involved in that conversation so that we can make sure that we’re all together and not recreating the wheel.”

Statistically, non-police crisis intervention teams offer immense benefits to their serving city. According to The National Alliance on Mental Illness, Between 2015 and 2020, one in four people killed by police officers had a mental illness.

However, according to the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), areas with crisis intervention teams earn an estimated $350,000 in cost avoidance to the community. Cost avoidance measures action that reduces future costs.

For crisis intervention teams, cost avoidance includes alternatives to incarceration for those suffering from mental health issues.

“If you have ideas about mental health programs or how we can support individuals in our community, I am always dying to have that conversation,” said Brown.

Regarding her long term goals, Mayor Brown said she simply wants to make Ypsilanti into a better place. 

“I want people to say that when Nicole Brown was mayor, my life became better,” she said. 

Being the first Black woman to be elected Mayor of Ypsilanti, Mayor Brown called the idea surreal, stating that she was humbled and honored, vowing to work hard to serve the people of Ypsilanti. 

“I take a lot of pride in this distinction, and in the role and the fact that historically, I am the first black woman elected to this role, which means a lot that the people got behind me and trusted me to serve them and to lead us into the future. I feel honored, and I feel humbled. I plan to do the best I can and partner with everybody I can to make sure that I show up for everybody who put their support and their trust in me to lead as mayor,” Brown said.