Bonds’ daughter hits opioid crisis in run for Congress

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Kristine Bonds, the daughter of longtime WXYZ-TV anchor Bill Bonds, is making the opioid epidemic the centerpiece of her campaign to try to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Dave Trott of Birmingham.

Bonds, 52, of West Bloomfield Township says she is running for Congress as a Republican largely because of the opioid crisis, which she says took the life of her stepson, Drew Swan, nearly four years ago.

“It’s not just a national crisis but also local crisis. That’s truly what’s prompted me to not only take action but be an agent of change. To help save one life is what I’m looking to help solve here,” Bonds told The Detroit News.

Drew Swan died at age 24 in Florida. He had previously overdosed twice on heroin and had been clean for a year and a half before his death in April 2013, said his father, Greg Swan.

The cause of death listed on his death certificate was “methadone intoxication,” Greg Swan said.

Drug overdoses killed about 64,000 people in the United States in 2016, and methadone is among the leading causes of overdose deaths.

“Life comes crashing down as you know it. Trying to find your grounding again is a very lonely journey, but it causes one to ponder,” Bonds said.

“That’s where I really became aware of how important it is to find compassion and understanding to anyone who has suffered from such a loss. Not only is there a way to get to the other side, there is a solution to this.”

Bonds’ mission is to bring a solution to every home of someone struggling with addiction and securing the needed funds to educate families and treat those with addictions, she said.

“Just as important as it was to bring to light folks who were drinking and driving, we must do the same as it relates to opioid abuse,” Bonds said.

“It’s not talked about or truly given the spotlight. I want to be the face of this.”

Bonds joins a crowded GOP primary field in the 11th District of Michigan that includes businesswoman Lena Epstein of Bloomfield Township; state Rep. Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Township; former state House Majority Leader Rocky Raczkowski of Troy; Plymouth Township Supervisor Kurt Heise; and former U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio of Milford.

Democrats running for the seat include Haley Stevens of Rochester Hill;, Fayrouz Saad of Northville; Dan Haberman of Birmingham; state Rep. Tim Greimel of Auburn Hills; and Suneel Gupta of Birmingham.

Bonds originally launched her campaign in the 14th District, aiming to challenge incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence of Southfield.

Bonds later decided to run in the 11th District, where she resides, said Greg Swan, who is managing his wife’s campaign. He said GOP officials had pushed Bonds toward the 14th because of her father’s popularity.

Her campaign website prominently features photos of her well-known father, Bill Bonds, who died in 2014, with the slogan, “Like Father Like Daughter.”

Bonds was born and raised in West Bloomfield and attended Mercy High School and Northwestern University, according to her website. She worked as a singer and dancer for years on cruise ships and for Disney, even singing with the band Alabama, she said.

“My dad was a great dad. He always told me: Kristine, love what you do and everything else will fall into place,” she said.

Bonds said she made a “life change” in 2007 when she married and moved back to Michigan, where she co-founded and was managing partner of Detroit Digital Advertising.

“I’m a sales professional. I love what I do. I’ve had a very rewarding career,” she said. “I’ve always been able to understand what it is that I find dearest to my heart and go for it.”