As citizens of Detroit, we are guaranteed a set of rights that are defined in our city charter –– a document Detroiters vote to approve and that outlines rules for the city and its government. Detroiters like you and I are responsible for creating this document. Citizens use their democratic right to shape how local government will serve us in Detroit.
From a national –– or federal –– perspective, the U.S. Constitution guarantees citizens certain privileges and protections. The same is true for governments at the state and local levels. Consider this: Michigan’s state constitution outlines the rights of all Michiganders; the city of Detroit’s charter establishes our city’s local government, outlines its responsibilities as well as the rights of all local citizens–all Detroiters.
A city charter is like a city’s constitution. Similar to our nation’s, it establishes structure and guidelines for the way local government should operate –– its responsibilities, functions, and processes. Local government serves its citizens by providing services and protecting the rights outlined in the charter.