Oh Look, Half Of Detroit’s Mayoral Candidate Field Has A Felony Rapsheet
It might not be an election year nationally, but the political world moves on and the state of Michigan will be going through primary elections this month for Governor, Mayors, City Councils and many other races.
One of the most notable races is Mayoral race in Detroit. Eight candidates will appear in a non-partisan primary with the top two advancing to the final race in November. Though there is not a primary divide on the ballot, there is a social divide. Half of the candidates are convicted felons, and the other half are not.
Under Michigan's election laws convicted felons can run for political office and vote so long as they are not incarcerated or guilty of certain fraud-related offenses, do not owe restitution from their charges, or have committed crimes involving a breach of the public trust.
The Detroit News did a background check on all the mayoral candidates and while those who have felonious backgrounds disputed details about their conviction three of them stated that their past is a motivating factor in their campaign.
Donna Marie Pitts has multiple felony convictions in Oakland and Wayne county going back to the 1970's. In 1977, Pitts was found guilty of receiving and concealing a stolen automobile. In 1987 after a dispute over a car repair bill, Pitts was charged with two counts of assault with intent to murder and two firearm offenses. She was found guilty of a lesser offense of assault with intent to harm. Pitts also was arrested in 2000 for evading police and driving without a license, and in 2003 she agreed to a plea deal where she pleaded guilty to illegal firearm possession and carrying a concealed weapon connected to a 2002 traffic stop.
Despite multiple run-ins with police, Pitts supports law enforcement telling the Detroit News "There’s a lot of good officers. I just ran into a couple bad situations." If elected she vows to fight discrimination and racism as part of an overhaul of the justice system.
Danetta L. Simpson has a felony conviction in Oakland County for assault with intent to murder. The incident occurred in 1996, when Simpson made threatening phone calls to a woman who was living with the father of two of Simpson's children. Court documents say a confrontation ensued and Simpson fired a gun that hit about two feet from where the victim was standing. Simpson refutes her charge to the Detroit News saying "I was a wrongfully convicted felon, overcharged for a crime I did not commit." Simpson has stated she is out to "correct what’s wrong and make it right." in Detroit.
Articia Bomer was charged with concealing a weapon back in 2008. During a traffic stop, police found a loaded .38 caliber pistol with four live rounds, Bomer contends the car was recently purchased from a gun owner and that it was not hers. She was found guilty in a bench trial but served no time in prison. Regarding her conviction Bomer has said to the Detroit News "I want voters to know that they should never judge a book by its cover, I am a law-abiding citizen." Bomer's platform is one of "preservation, restoration and revitalization".
Lastly, Christopher Greene was charged with fourth-degree fleeing and eluding police during an attempted traffic stop, and delivering and manufacturing marijuana. This was back in 2004. Greene was given 18 months probation and was told that the charges would be expunged from his record due to the fact that he was 18 years old at the time of the arrest. Greene did violate his parole in July of 2005 by attempting to publish a fraudulent check. He was sentenced to six months in prison on that felony charge and lost the youth exception to have charges expunged. Greene has since gone on to become an ordained minister and has a 7-point plan to help rebuild Detroit. Part of his campaign is to help ex-offenders (like he was) get back on their feet easier.
The two favorites to advance to the November race according to most polls are incumbent Mike Duggan and State Sen. Coleman Young II and those two are part of the four who do not have felony convictions in their backgrounds. Edward Dean and Angelo Brown are the other two candidates in the non-felony group.