Clerk's staff: Bill Wild should get ballot spot for Congress

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News
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Westland Mayor Bill Wild

Westland Mayor Bill Wild qualifies for the congressional race to replace former U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr., according to Wayne County elections staff that conducted a review of Wild's nominating petitions. 

Clerk Cathy Garrett is expected to make a final decision within two days, after her Elections Division staff on Wednesday recommended that Wild get a spot on the Aug. 7 Democratic primary ballot in the 13th District.

A spokesman for Wild's campaign said they were pleased with the recommendation. 

"We are going to continue to work hard to get our message out to the people of the 13th Congressional District," Wild spokesman Mario Morrow said. 

"Our goal is to win and bring stability, economic development and jobs home with integrity and hard work."

The review by the clerk's office was prompted by a formal petition challenge filed by Democratic activist Michael Gilmore, who was previously a candidate in the race but withdrew last month and endorsed Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones.

Gilmore had alleged that certain petition circulators for Wild were not residents of Michigan and that signatories were registered to vote outside of the district, among other technical violations. 

The staff review deemed invalid 113 of the 693 signatures that Gilmore challenged, but still found another 1,251 valid signatures among the 1,671 that Wild submitted. 

Congressional candidates need 1,000 valid signatures to qualify under state law, and so Wild's petition should be deemed “sufficient,” staff said. 

"If that’s what they’ve come out with, then so be it," Gilmore said Wednesday.

Gilmore said he had heard Wild was paying circulators a higher-than-usual rate per signature, which made him suspect there might be discrepancies in his petitions. 

"I started the process when I was still in the race and have since withdrawn from the race, but decided just for the sake of democracy to continue the challenge of his petitions," he said. 

Gilmore stressed that his challenge of Wild's petitions was not at Jones' request. 

"That was totally of my own volition," he added.

The 13th District Democratic primary is overflowing with political newcomers and veteran lawmakers vying to succeed Conyers, who held the seat for more than 50 years.

The district includes parts of Detroit and western Wayne County.

Other candidates include former state Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Shanelle Jackson, Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones and state Sens. Ian Conyers and Coleman Young III. The winner of the primary takes the seat, as no Republican is on the ballot.

Garrett on Monday denied Conyers' 27-year-old son a place on the primary ballot after a similar petition review by her staff.

The former congressman had endorsed John Conyers III to take his old seat when he resigned in December amid allegations of sexual misconduct from former aides. 

A review by Garrett’s staff had invalidated hundreds of petition signatures submitted by Conyers III to qualify as a candidate for a full two-year term that begins in January and, separately, for the special election to complete the current term vacated by his father.


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