Detroit City Council head seeks Conyers’ Congress seat

Melissa Nann Burke, and Mark Hicks

Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones said Friday she plans to run for Congress, hoping to fill the seat vacated by former U.S. Rep. John Conyers.

Conyers, 88, resigned in December amid allegations that he sexually harassed female aides — claims that he denied.

Jones joins a growing Democratic primary field that includes Conyers’ son, John Conyers III, and state Sen. Ian Conyers, who is the former congressman’s great-nephew. State Sen. Coleman Young II and Democratic activist Michael Gilmore are also running.

Jones indicated she plans to continue to serve on the council as she competes in the August primary for the open seat representing the 13th District, which includes parts of Detroit and suburban Wayne County.

“Following several weeks of conversations with constituents, faith-based leaders, business people and community members, I have decided to expand my service to include all of the people in Southeast Michigan at the federal level in the United States House of Representatives,” Jones said in a statement announcing her candidacy.

“It is my intention to honor and carry on, to the best of my ability, the legacy of John Conyers. It is absolutely vital that the progress he made fighting for our human and civil rights is never forgotten. I will fight to fully restore the Voting Rights Act, and will challenge any threat to roll back the progress the dean made while in office.”

Jones was elected in 2005 and re-elected last fall as council president. She is the former president of Communications Workers of America Local 4004, where she represented more than 1,000 union members.

She is a precinct delegate for the 14th Congressional District, according to her city biography.

Among Jones’ supporters is U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, who on Friday praised the Detroit council’s longest-serving member for her accomplishments.

“Brenda Jones is a strong public servant and effective leader with a proven track record of making a difference in the lives of Detroiters,” the Southfield Democrat said in a statement. “In Congress, we need leaders who have compassion, a heart for the people they represent, political courage, and a strong work ethic. That leader is Brenda Jones.”

Dallas Walker, a minister at Wyoming Church of Christ, which Jones has attended since 1967, called her “a person of impeccable character and serves the people with phenomenal dedication. ... Her proven dedication will be a great positive force for our region.”

Jones plans to push an agenda focused on jobs, opportunities, neighborhoods, education and safety.

“I look forward to ensuring the people of the 13th District are getting their fair share of federal assistance, access to programming and the funding they are entitled to,” she said.