Tlaib urges Jones to say whether she'll leave city post to serve in Congress
Detroit — Congresswoman-elect Rashida Tlaib is urging Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones to announce whether she intends to step down from her city post in order to serve in Congress, raising concerns about a smooth transition of power.
Tlaib, 42, was elected to replace former Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Detroit in Congress starting in January.
But Jones won a special election to finish out Conyers' unexpired term. She would temporarily represent the district for an estimated seven weeks, from mid-November through Jan. 2. And it appears all signs point to Jones serving in dual roles until the end of the year.
"Not only myself but even members of City Council have expressed that concern about the fact that no decision has been made of whether she was going to step down or not," Tlaib told The Detroit News on Wednesday morning.
"It leaves a lot of us in flux in making decisions. There’s this uncertainty, so a lot of us need to know what the transition is going to look like."
Jones, 59, has not said whether she intends to resign her elected city post before taking office in Washington. She did not immediately respond Wednesday to a call seeking comment.
But Jonathan Kinloch, chairman of the 13th District Democratic Party, said Wednesday “it’s not a hidden fact” that Jones intends to serve in Congress and then return to her role in Detroit.
“Brenda is going to do both,” he told The Detroit News.
Kinloch noted that Detroit’s council will begin its winter recess later this month and, during that time, he expects Jones will serve a short stint in U.S. Congress through December.
“U.S. Congress will meet, Brenda will serve for those two weeks, and that will be it. Other than that, she’ll be back home before you know it," he said.
Come Jan. 3, Tlaib will step in as “our partner in the Democratic Party," Kinloch added.
At the end of Wednesday's formal council session, Jones thanked supporters of her unsuccessful write-in campaign and implied in her comments that she intends to hold dual offices for a short time.
“I want to thank all of the citizens and all of my colleagues who supported me and my efforts," Jones said. "As I move forward in working with new colleagues and also returning to work back with my colleagues and all of the citizens that I have worked with in the city of Detroit and around metropolitan Detroit."
Republican House leadership has said there's no precedent for allowing a member of Congress to also hold local elected office, but they're "evaluating it."
The seat in the 13th District, which includes parts of Detroit and Wayne County, has been vacant for more than 11 months since Conyers resigned in December.
"A decision needs to be made and made soon," Tlaib said. "If you’re there, let’s make sure we’re working together so when you’re done with those six to seven weeks I’m able to come in smoothly, and there’s no interruptions in terms of people getting services."
Late last month, the pair stood together at Cass Tech High School during a rally in which former President Barack Obama campaigned for incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow and the now governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer, among others.
Tlaib, at the time, told the crowd: "If Brenda and Rashida can show up and fight ... then we know anything is possible. We honor you, we can't wait to serve you in the U.S. Congress, together."
Then, before initiating a chant of "we will win this," Jones added "Jones and Tlaib; together we stand, united we are ..."
Jones mounted a last-minute write-in campaign for the full congressional term in Tuesday's general election.
The councilwoman made the decision public during a press conference outside City Hall last week, citing concerns over the "integrity" of the August primary and her loyal supporters for the decision.
At that time, she did not detail her plans for the partial term, saying that votes on Nov. 6 would have to be counted and "we will move on next Tuesday to see what happens."