Labor-backed candidates surge in Detroit

DETROIT — Labor-endorsed candidates fared well in Tuesday's primary elections here.

Seven of the top eight City Council candidates had the endorsement of the Detroit Metro AFL-CIO. They will be part of the 18 who will vie for the nine council seats in November’s general election. Labor-backed candidates also did well for mayor (labor supported current Mayor Dave Bing), the school board and the Detroit Charter Commission, charged with revising how the troubled city government operates.

No matter who wins in November, change will be coming to the Detroit City Council. Current members Sheila Cockrel and Barbara Rose Collins did not run. Councilmember Martha Reeves failed to get enough votes to qualify for the general election and former Councilwoman Monica Conyers has pleaded guilty to bribery charges and is awaiting sentencing. Conyers’ name appeared on the ballot but she placed far back.

In addition to current councilmembers JoAnn Watson, Ken Cockrel Jr. and Brenda Jones who were supported by the labor movement, labor-backed candidates also doing well included Charles Pugh, Gary Brown, Jai-Lee Dearing and Sauntiel Jenkins. Jenkins served as chief of staff for legendary and beloved former Council President Maryann Mahaffey.

James Hunter, political action coordinator for the Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO, said “the results let us know that the public also thinks highly of candidates we’ve endorsed.”

Hunter said union members’ concerns on the economy, city services and public health and safety are the concerns of the average person, and “they are finally the concerns of those running for office.”

Of special interest, labor-backed charter commission candidate Elena Herrada, a well-known peace, justice and immigrant rights activist, also qualified for the November election.

jrummel @ pww.org