Detroit — An outspoken Democratic legislative incumbent is facing a challenge from a Hamtramck city councilman in the state House District 4 primary that will likely decide who represents the overwhelmingly Democratic district.
Criminal defense lawyer Rose Mary Robinson is looking to fend off Mohammed Hassan in the Aug. 5 primary for the district that covers Hamtramck and a portion of Detroit. The winner will be challenged by Republican candidate Edith Floyd, who is running unopposed, in the fall.
Robinson defeated 10 other Democrats, including Hassan, two years ago to represent the district that includes Detroit’s Midtown. In her first term, Robinson set a legislative record for casting the only “no” vote last year on 41 House bills. Her critical approach, she says, has put her “out and away from the rest” on some issues.
But Robinson, who says she is passionate about public education and reforming the state’s prison system, argues she’s working to stop “the worst legislation that I see.”
The 74-year-old west side Detroit resident was among the first women elected to the Wayne County Commission in 1970. She served six terms before taking a hiatus from politics to focus on practicing law, with a one-year stint as a labor attorney for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 25.
She says the state’s criminal justice system is going backward and she seeks to block as many punitive bills as she can. Robinson said she opposes a pending nuisance bill that she claims is an abuse of power and would hurt Detroit.
“I’m never going to keep my mouth quiet and stand silent when I think something is wrong,” she said.
The 50-year Detroit resident is also opposed to the state’s emergency manager law and the “grand bargain” orchestrated to bolster Detroit pensions and shield the Detroit Institute of Arts’ collection from creditors in the city’s bankruptcy.
Gov. Rick Snyder signed the nine-bill package that calls for an upfront payment from the state of $195 million. An additional $466 million is being allocated by the DIA and 12 foundations.
Robinson called the private and state aid package “a big fraud.”
“It’s a political takeover,” she said. “The pensions are protected under the state constitution as far as I’m concerned.”
Robinson argues the state has given too many tax breaks, noting that the school aid and general funds are diminishing. She said funding public education is one of her primary goals and she does not support charters or educational authorities.
“It should be a public school, not a class society,” she said. “Public money should be for public education.”
Robinson doesn’t support a tax hike for roads. She said that would put too much on the backs of the little guy and the wealthy should be paying their fair share.
Hassan, 46, could not be reached for comment by telephone or email. But he reportedly said he ran for Hamtramck City Council in 2009 because of discrimination against immigrants that he witnessed in the city.
The councilman had faced possible prosecution over outstanding late-filing fees and missing reports from a prior race when he filed to run for state representative, despite affirming in his candidate filing that he did not, according to the Michigan Secretary of State.
Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams confirmed Hassan paid off $1,830.30 in late-filings fees and submitted the missing reports. But he has failed to respond to an error or omission notice, he added.
The issues would not have prevented Hassan from appearing on the ballot.