Daughter looks to finish House term after mom’s death

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Lauren Plawecki may get the chance to finish what her mother started this term in the Michigan House of Representatives.

Plawecki, 22, was the only Democrat to file for a special election to finish the current term of Rep. Julie Plawecki of Dearborn Heights, who died last month after suffering a heart attack on a hiking trip in Oregon.

Fellow Democrat Rafael Narbaez had also applied but withdrew his candidacy last week, according to the Wayne County Clerk’s Office. Robert Pope of Garden City was the only Republican to file for the race by Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline.

Gov. Rick Snyder last week called a special primary for Aug. 30, but that election will be canceled because only one candidate from each party filed for the race, according to Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams.

Lauren Plawecki and Pope will compete for the partial term in the Nov. 8 general election. The 11th District typically favors Democrats. The winner would serve less than two months in the state House during what could be a busy lame-duck period.

“While the representative chosen in this election will only serve for six weeks, the honor and closure my service would bring to my family will last for a lifetime,” Plawecki said in a statement. “I cannot think of a better way to honor my mother and the life she led than to finish what she started at the Capitol.”

Area Democrats worked to clear the special election field for Plawecki, according to 13th Congressional District Democratic Party Chairman Jonathan Kinloch.

“What greater tribute would it be for a daughter to serve out the expiring term of her deceased mother?” Kinloch said. “She’d be serving because of a traumatic experience, but I think she has the fortitude to vote in a way that would benefit people in the communities in her district.”

Plawecki was also one of 11 Democrats who had sought to replace her mother on the regular Aug. 2 primary ballot for the chance to represent the 11th District for a full two-year term. Local delegates instead selected Inkster City Councilman Jewell Jones for that primary slot.

Pope is competing with Dale Prosser of Garden City in the regular Republican primary. The winner will take on Jones in the general election.

Julie Plawecki first won election to the state House in 2014, when she captured nearly 70 percent of the vote against Republican Jim Rhoades.

Lauren Plawecki, one of her three daughters, graduated last year from the University of Michigan with a degree in art history.

“As I have said before, I am not my mother, but the lessons she taught me about leadership, compassion and service leave me uniquely positioned to complete the two-year term she started,” she said. “If elected, I will work hard to continue her fights for equal access to quality education, clean water, and women’s rights.”

joosting@detroitnews.com