Monica Conyers a 'candidate' for Wayne County executive, but banned from serving

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — Former Detroit City Council President Monica Conyers set herself up for a comeback on April 19, when she filed to run as a Democrat in the Wayne County executive race.

But she is banned from being elected to office under Michigan law since she pleaded guilty in 2009 to one federal count of conspiracy to commit bribery. Conyers was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for accepting money in exchange for her vote on a $1 billion sludge-hauling deal. 

Monica Conyers

In the eyes of the law, Conyers became a candidate when she made the filing. Fellow Democrat, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, is running for re-election.

"This office has recently received an affidavit of identity for the office of Wayne County Executive received on April 19 2022," the Wayne County Clerk's office wrote in an April 22 letter to Conyers. "Therefore, the individual has now become a candidate under the Michigan Campaign Finance Act, and is required to form a campaign committee." 

But Conyers' filing came well within the 20-year ban on election or appointment to public office in Michigan after being "convicted of a felony involving dishonesty, deceit, fraud, or a breach of the public trust" related to that person's public service.

In November 2010, Michigan voters approved the ban by an almost 3-1 margin in amending the state constitution. The ban started in the Michigan Senate as Senate Joint Resolution 5.

Sponsored by then-State Sen. Tupac Hunter, D-Detroit, and passed by two-thirds of the Michigan House and Senate before heading to voters, the resolution was made in response to concerns that former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who had resigned in September 2008, would someday return to office. 

Kilpatrick had said as much in his exit address.

"I want to tell you, Detroit, that you done set me up for a comeback," Kilpatrick said in his 20-minute televised speech.

Kilpatrick resigned as then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a fellow Democrat, had started removal proceedings.

The Wayne County Clerk's Office is "not authorized to reject the filing of an Affidavit of identity if the prospective candidate attests that they meet the statutory and constitutional requirements of the office sought," said clerk's office spokeswoman Lisa Williams. 

"The initial onus is on the person filing to attest to their eligibility," Williams added. "The current candidate list is unofficial, as the filing and withdrawal deadlines recently concluded on April 22." 

Conyers paid a $100 filing fee. Conyers couldn't be immediately reached for comment.  

Conyers' filing also started a 10-calendar-day clock to form a candidate committee. Until it is formed, Conyers' registration shows as "pending" on the Wayne County campaign finance portal.

April 27 is day eight. After the committee is formed, the candidate has 10 more days to register the committee. 

Other Democrats running for county executive are Beverly Kindle-Walker of Detroit and MD R. Alam of Detroit.