Schuette calls for resignation of lieutenant governor candidate Gilchrist over blighted house

Bill Schuette attacks Garlin Gilchrist II in a video posted on Twitter.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette called Saturday for the resignation of Garlin Gilchrist II, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, over the conditions of his blighted apartment building in Detroit.

“He can’t manage this or Michigan,” Schuette tweeted. “Gilchrist should resign from the ticket.”

The tweet is accompanied by a 31-second video in which Schuette, standing in front of the blighted building at 253 Marston St., questions Gilchrist’s ability “to be part of running the state of Michigan” if “he’s not making sure this property is safe for people.”

“Kids riding down the sidewalks, no security,” Schuette said in the video. “He’s he not living here. How would you like to be his neighbor?”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer, who recent polls show has a comfortable lead over Schuette, chose Gilchrist as a running mate in August.

Garlin Gilchrist

The video comes one day after reporter Charlie LeDuff revealed on the online new site, Deadline Detroit, that Gilchrist has neglected a 5,200-square-foot multifamily home, which he bought at a steep discount from the Detroit Land Bank in 2016. 

The rotting building hulks next to another occupied duplex,” LeDuff wrote. “Mattresses molder in the Deuce’s back yard. The sewage trench in the back is a yawning gape. It has no back door. Some windows are boarded up. Bricks and plywood litter the front yard. The grass is unmowed. The walls inside are stripped to the studs.

“Children live next door to this.”

Gilchrist was working in Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration when he bought the building in August 2016 for $27,000 – half the price the public would have paid. City employees were eligible for a 50% discount on Land Bank properties.

The neglect raises questions about how Gilchrist was able to hang on to the property despite a firm Land Bank policy that properties must be promptly renovated. The city has seized other homes that weren’t renovated quickly enough. 

Whitmer’s campaign dismissed Schuette’s call for Gilchrist to resign, saying it’s a diversionary tactic by an unpopular candidate.

“Every poll shows Bill Schuette losing badly to Gretchen Whitmer, so now he’s attacking her running mate to distract voters from the fact that Schuette filed nine lawsuits to rip healthcare away from Michigan families,” Whitmer campaign spokesman Zac Pohl said in a statement to Motor City Muckraker. Schuette’s desperate attacks won’t work and Michigan voters aren’t buying it.”

A recent Detroit News-WDIV poll found that Schuette is trailing Whitmer by 12 percentage points with less than a month before the Nov. 6 general election. 

Schuette, a longtime supporter of Donald Trump, was endorsed by the president and has been hammered for his attempts to eliminate affordable, publicly subsidized health insurance.

Schuette’s image wasn’t helped by the reemergence of a creepy video on Thursday, prompting him to claim his behavior was a “poor attempt to be humorous.” 

Here is Gilchrist’s full statement about the neglected property:

Two years after my family moved back to Detroit, I purchased the apartment building on Marston. I planned to rehabilitate the property from its significant fire damage and rent out its eight, one-bedroom apartments. I committed to this project because North End has personal significance to my childhood.

I have been working to secure financing for the project since purchasing it because I knew significant work needed to be done. Because I wanted to begin quickly, I began to deal with the building’s immediate problems and work to make it structurally sound before finalizing that financing.

I exhausted my personal resources to demolish the building interior, remove the collapsing rear balcony and staircase, repair the significant damage to the leaking roof, install main line plumbing, install new windows, and level the building by raising it eight inches. I also hired an architect to draw plans for the building and initiate the permitting process for construction. 

That said, the apartment building is not in the state that I want it to be in, even with the significant progress that has been made thus far. I have been in communication with the Land Bank staff throughout this process about the building status. 

It has been a struggle to secure a loan to complete the project, in part due to my pursuits of elected office in 2017 and now again in 2018. I remain committed to securing the financing, ending the holding pattern that this project has been in, and bringing the apartment building renovation to completion as soon as possible. 

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.