In Detroit, criminal mayors are nothing new. In fact, on Thursday, corrupted ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who was convicted of felony crimes and is still in jail, after embarking on a life of crime even after his first jail stint in 2008, was in the news for having his restitution (he owes the city $4.5 million) hearing canceled for next month.
It’s likely not a surprise, then, that recent analysis from Detroit News shows that of the eight mayoral hopefuls on Detroit’s primary ballot next week, four have been convicted of felony crimes involving drugs, assault or weapons.
Three of the candidates were charged with gun crimes and two for assault with intent to commit murder. Some of the offenses date back decades, but the most recent crime was committed in 2008.
According to political consultant and NAACP activist Greg Bowens, convicted felons are nothing new when it comes to the wide range of people who run for office, and it’s not something unique to Detroit or politics, in general.
“Black marks on your record show you have lived a little and have overcome some challenges,” said Bowens, who previously served as press secretary to Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer. “They (candidates) deserve the opportunity to be heard, but they also deserve to have the kind of scrutiny that comes along with trying to get an important elected position.”
Tuesday’s Detroit mayoral primary election will be the first since the city crawled out of bankruptcy in 2014. The field of eight will be narrowed to two who will compete against each other in the fall.
Under state election law, convicted felons can vote and run for office as long as they are not incarcerated or guilty of certain fraud-related offenses or crimes involving a breach of the public trust. The Detroit News reviewed the backgrounds of all the mayoral contenders.
According to the report, some of the convicts refute the circumstances that led to their criminal convictions, but three admitted that their past is a motivating factor in their choosing to run.
The two who have pulled ahead of the field, incumbent Mayor Mike Duggan and state senator Coleman A. Young II, the son of the city’s first black mayor, have no criminal records. Edward Dean and Angelo Brown are also clean.
Donna Marie Pitts, 58, has multiple felony convictions, beginning in 1977, according to court records reviewed by the newspaper. “I don’t hide it,” she told reporters. “God has brought me out. I hope [voters] don’t look at it as negative, but as my experience and [that] I can help. I want to fight for them.”
Danetta Simpson was convicted in 1996 of assault with intent to murder; Articia Bomer was charged in 2008 for carrying a concealed weapon; Curtis Christopher Greene was charged with fourth-degree fleeing and eluding police during an attempted traffic stop and a marijuana-related count. The felony charge reportedly came when he violated probation in 2005 and was arrested regarding a fraudulent check, according to the report.
Detroit’s mayoral primary election is set for Aug. 8.
A video regarding the mayoral race can be viewed below:
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