Half of the eight mayoral hopefuls for Detroit’s primary ballot next week are convicted felons. Three of them were charged with gun crimes and two were convicted for assault with intent to commit murder, according to the Detroit News.
Convicted felons are allowed to run for office, as long as they haven’t been convicted of crimes that involve breaching the trust of the public.
“Black marks on your record show you have lived a little and have overcome some challenges,” said Bowens, a former press secretary to Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer and NAACP activist. “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.”
Donna Marie Pitts, 58, has multiple felony convictions. The earliest one dates back to 1977, for concealing a stolen car. Ten years later, she was convicted of two counts of assault with intent to murder for two different 1987 shootings. More recently, Pitts was convicted of firearm possession in 2003.
She isn’t shy to talk about her past.
“I don’t hide it. God has brought me out,” she said. “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 said she has been the victim of discrimination, according to the Detroit News, a cause that she aims to fight for if elected mayor.
Candidate Danetta L. Simpson was convicted in 1996 for assault with intent to murder. The 46-year-old said, “I was a wrongfully convicted felon, overcharged for a crime I did not commit.”
Nobody was injured in the 1996 incident.
Articia Bomer was charged in 2008 with carrying a concealed weapon. The 45-year-old called her conviction “frivolous” and claims that the weapon was not hers.
“I want voters to know that they should never judge a book by its cover,” she said. “I am a law-abiding citizen.”
Candidate Curtis Christopher Greene was charged with a felony at age 19 for manufacturing marijuana, fleeing police and other charges. He said that at age 32, his criminal past continues to hold him back. He aims to implement programs that will help ex-offenders find decent employment.
“I came from a crime-ridden area,” Greene told the Detroit News. “My life, I believe it was very complex growing up.”
The election on Tuesday will be the first election since the city exited bankruptcy in 2014. According to Crain’s Detroit Business, the city’s unemployment rate hit a 17-year low after the city filed for bankruptcy.