Retired judge Virgil C. Smith launches campaign Detroit City Council seat

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — Former judge and state senator Virgil C. Smith on Friday announced he's entering the race to represent east side residents on Detroit City Council.

Smith formalized the launch of his campaign for the 2021 election after first raising the prospect in February. 

In a Friday statement, the former Third Circuit judge, who was the first African American Michigan Senate floor leader, cited the need for more support and services for families in Detroit's District 4. 

Judge Virgil Smith

"I’m running for the future of our city,” he said. “I want to use my extensive experience in the Legislature and on the bench to ensure services to the families of the district and help organize this district.”

Smith is part of the high-profile field of candidates who have declared their plans to run.

Earlier this month, journalist M.L. Elrick submitted his petition signatures and declared his candidacy. A week earlier, Toson Knight, a youth mentor and dean of students for the city's public school district, shared his intentions with supporters in the Eden Gardens neighborhood. 

Incumbent Councilman Andre Spivey has said he plans to seek one of two at-large seats on the nine-member council in the August primary. 

Spivey’s chief of staff, Keith Jones, also has pulled petitions for the District 4 seat.

Smith, a former Democratic state representative, served 14 years as a circuit judge and as a chief judge for four of those years. He also presided over the Third Circuit Court's Family Division. Currently, Smith serves as a visiting judge for the Third Circuit Court and Detroit's 36th District Court. 

Smith said "we need a fighter in city hall" and "I know how to be the advocate for families."