Half the candidates in next week’s Detroit mayoral primary have been convicted of felony crimes, according to a local analysis.
The Detroit News found three of the eight mayoral hopefuls have faced gun charges -- two for assault with intent to commit murder -- and a fourth candidate pleaded guilty to a non-gun charge years ago. While some of these cases date back to the 1970s, some are more recent.
Under Michigan state election law, convicted felons can vote and run for office, so long as they are not incarcerated or guilty of crimes breaching public trust. The nonpartisan primary will narrow the field down to two candidates who will face off in November.
The candidates are apparently open about their histories. Greg Bowens, a political consultant and former press secretary to former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, told The Detroit News that the rap sheets aren't unique to this election or Detroit.
“[The 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 person elected,” he said.
Three of the candidates told The Detroit News their criminal histories have served as motivation in running for office.
Donna Marie Pitts, 58, has multiple felony convictions, beginning in 1977, according to court records reviewed by the newspaper.
“I don’t hide it. God has brought me out,” Pitts told the paper. “I hope [voters] don’t look at it as negative but as my experience, and I can help. I want to fight for them.”
Other candidates with past charges include Danetta Simpson, who was convicted in 1996 for assault with intent to murder; Articia Bomer, who was charged in 2008 for carrying a concealed weapon; and Curtis Christopher Greene who 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 charged over a fraudulent check, according to the report.
Detroit’s mayoral primary election is set for Aug. 8.