Detroit — Five candidates will face off in the Aug. 5 Democratic primary in the race to fill Rep. Phil Cavanagh’s open seat in a district covering part of Wayne County.
They are the outgoing seat holder’s former challenger, a pair of young entrepreneurs, a retired Detroit police officer and a former tax collector. Republican Matthew Hauser is unopposed in state House District 10 that covers Redford Township and a portion of Detroit.
Leslie Love, a former candidate for Cavanagh’s seat, is running on a platform that encompasses blight, safety, education and economic development.
Love, an adjunct professor and director of theater operations at Marygrove College, previously worked as a stand-up comedian and actress when she toured with Cedric the Entertainer. She said the experiences have prepared her for the political realm.
“I have been brought up with a DNA written in my code to educate, instruct, give information and provide solutions,” she said.
Love says Michigan has to position itself to be a leader in education and technology for durable and longer-lasting infrastructure. The state, she said, must evaluate the best way to fund road fixes.
“It’s important that this district is represented with good, competent leadership and a person who wants the job,” she said.
Roy McCalister Jr., a retired Detroit police lieutenant and former homicide disivion commander, is also vying for the seat.
McCalister, a former candidate for the Detroit City Council, said he’s focused on neighborhood stabilization and revitalization, educating youths and issues facing seniors.
He says the state’s school system needs a greater emphasis on teacher performance and the individual needs of students. The Army veteran says he’s also pushing for additional job training and an expansive transportation system that would allow the state to better compete in the global market.
“It’s about making sure the people’s quality of life is good,” said McCalister, an investigator with the Federal Defender Office. “That’s my focus.”
As a Detroit pensioner, McCalister added he also knows firsthand what city retirees are facing in Detroit’s bankruptcy.
“I have a vested interest and a vested concern,” he said.
Jay Johnson, a 32-year-old Redford Township trustee and entrepreneur, is advocating the promotion of youth entrepreneurship, leadership and community development.
“I can help create positive changes in Michigan, both as a young person and somebody who has some experience and as an advocate for the population’s most vulnerable,” said Johnson, who is endorsed by the United Auto Workers.
Johnson noted the state’s road infrastructure is a great concern to constituents who are seeking transparency and accountability.
As a township trustee, Johnson says he’s worked to enhance public safety, promote home ownership and target blight.
“I’m very passionate about the district and the people in the district,” he said. “If elected, every single day I will fight for them and for the interests that they have.”
Brandon Jessup, a 32-year-old political activist who in 2012 successfully led efforts to throw out, through a voter-approved ballot initiative, the state emergency manager law, Public Act 4.
Jessup says he’s focused on providing tax relief for working families and seniors, restoring millions of dollars in lost revenue sharing for the district and infrastructure investment.
“I represent a vision for the future,” said Jessup, noting his campaign already has an economic plan. “We’re not just talking the talk. We have walked the walk with families across the state.”
Jessup said education is “a public good” and believes public and charter schools should be funded equally to ensure families will get a quality education at all neighborhood schools.
As part of his reinvestment campaign, he is also advocating more opportunities and contracts for small business growth.
Retired tax collector Ronald Cole says he’s running for change and, in part, as a civics lesson for his 14-year-old son.
“If you want to change things, you have to be part of the process,” said Cole, of Detroit.
Cole, a self-described moderate Democrat, said transportation and education are among the biggest issues in the district.
Cole argues road work contractors need to be held accountable by the government for the work they do and ensure quality. On education, Cole said parents must be engaged and taught, along with their children, to improve the system.
Cole added he knows how to listen and compromise. “Every time I vote, nothing gets accomplished,” he said. “I was tired of voting for everyone else. I wanted to vote for me for a change.”