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Wayne: Worthy defeats challenger in prosecutor's race

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy overcame a challenge Tuesday as voters chose her over Democratic rival Victoria Burton-Harris, a defense attorney.

Victoria Burton-Harris

Worthy topped Burton-Harris by more than 68,000 votes. With all precincts reporting, Worthy received 62.3% of the vote.

Worthy is assured of election to a four-year term in November, since no Republicans filed to run for prosecutor.

Burton-Harris said she challenged Worthy in the Aug. 4 Democratic primary ii hopes of ending mass incarceration of African Americans and pursuing reform in the prosecution of Blacks in Wayne County. 

MORE2020 Michigan Aug. 4 election results

Supporters have highlighted Worthy's national leadership on the testing of rape kits and the creation of one of the country's few conviction integrity units. Worthy, 63, also became the first prosecutor in the country to convict on-duty police officers of murder when she prosecuted officers Walter Budzyn and Larry Nevers for the November 1992 death of Detroiter Malice Green.

Worthy was endorsed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, right, chats with attendees of a town hall meeting held in the Community Room at Northville Township Hall, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018 in Northville Township, Mich.

" ... I am both humbled and grateful to have earned the support of the majority of the voters (62 percent)," Worthy said Thursday in a statement. "This was a vigorous campaign — it had to be executed during a pandemic — and sadly was influenced by outside national interests who sought to not only distort but to destroy our record of innovations in criminal justice. I’m glad that voters knew the truth, and I look forward to building on those reforms over the next four years."

Burton-Harris, a resident of Grosse Pointe, has been a member of the legal services advisory committee for HAVEN of Oakland County and is on the new lawyers advisory board for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education and the board of directors for Covenant House Michigan, a youth homeless shelter, where she developed a mentoring program for residents, according to her campaign website. 

"I am running for Wayne County prosecutor so that I can reform the criminal justice system in an effort to end mass incarceration," she said. "Prosecutors are the gatekeepers to the criminal justice system, and have the power to make it work for ALL people."

Burton-Harris, 33, said that under Worthy, the office prosecutes African-Americans "way more than they prosecute anyone else," adding that the Wayne County jail population is predominantly Black.

Worthy countered that she doesn't base prosecutions based on race.

"You have to make sure you are fair to everyone because you represent all of the citizens in Wayne County," she said, adding that it would be "unfair, unjust and immoral" to base prosecutions on one's race.

Voters like Damian Mitchell, 36, said he supported Worthy because he believes she’s been doing a good job. 

Mitchell worked the election polls Tuesday for state representative candidate Tyson Kelly, of Detroit’s 10th district and he said he backed Kelly because he supports mental health.  

“After going through the pandemic and the latest officer involved shootings, people don’t understand how severe mental health is. Some people take it for granted,” Mitchell said.  “There needs to be more training and more acknowledgement of mental health issues and ways to combat it — especially with police.” 

In other Wayne County races:

►Democratic Sheriff Benny Napoleon easily defeated two primary challengers: T. P. Nykoriak of Detroit and Charles Corley II of Westland. In unofficial final results, Napoleon received 80% of the vote.

►Democratic Treasurer Eric Sabree topped Beverly Kindle-Walker and Angelo Brown in that party's primary and will face Anthony Wozniak of Livonia, who was unopposed on the Republican ballot, in November. Sabree received 46.4% of the vote to 42.6% for Kindle-Walker.

►Democratic Register of Deeds Bernard Youngblood turned back a primary challenge from Ricardo Moore of Detroit, winning with 70.3% of the vote. Parker Burns of Plymouth was alone on the GOP ballot. 

Voters also approved a 10-year, 0.9529-mill renewal for county operations and a five-year, 0.2459-mill renewal for county parks and recreation.

Jasmin Barmore contributed.