Detroit is in the midst of rebuilding. Once a shining metropolis and home to 1.8 million residents during the 1950s, the city filed for bankruptcy in 2013 and now has fewer than 675,000 who call the Motor City home.
But Detroit is finally out of bankruptcy and is working hard — to get its crime rate back up. In 2015, the city had its lowest number of murders in 40 years, but last year, Detroit has the second highest murder rate in the United States. Way to go, Detroit! Keep at it and you'll soon be No. 1 again!
With all that, it should come as no surprise that half of the eight candidates running for the office of mayor in Detroit’s primary ballot next week are convicted felons. Just half you say? Hey, it's a start. Rebuilding, remember?
Three have been charged with gun crimes and two others for assault with intent to commit murder, the Detroit News reports. While some convictions stretch back to the 1970s, the most recent was in 2008.
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.
While some refute circumstances that led to their criminal convictions, three said their past is a motivating factor in their decisions to run.
The two who have polled ahead of the field, incumbent Mayor Mike Duggan and state Sen. Coleman A. Young II, the son of the city’s first black mayor, have no criminal records. Nor do candidates Edward Dean and Angelo Brown.
First-time contender Donna Marie Pitts, 58, has multiple felony convictions dating back to 1977, according to court records in Wayne and Oakland counties.
Although she denies wrongdoing in the past cases against her, Pitts is open about her convictions.
Pitts, who says she has a business management degree and experience in carpentry, told The News she wants a “better way of life” for Detroiters.
“I don’t hide it. God has brought me out,” said Pitts, who wants to improve health care services, and tackle crime and work on rebuilding the community. “I hope (voters) don’t look at it as negative but as my experience, and I can help. I want to fight for them.”
Pitts was convicted of receiving a stolen car in 1977. Ten years later, "she was charged with two counts of assault with intent to murder and two firearm offenses in connection with two separate shooting incidents on March 24, 1987, Detroit Recorder’s Court records say." Intent to murder. C'mon, not murder. Sheesh.
But leave it to someone in the city to seek to downplay the candidates' horrific records.
"Black marks on your record show you have lived a little and have overcome some challenges,” said political consultant Greg Bowens, a former press secretary to Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer and NAACP activist. “They 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.”
Lived a little indeed.