Gay-Dagnogo launches bid for 13th Congressional District

Detroit — Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, a Detroit school board member and former Michigan lawmaker, became the fifth Democrat to launch her congressional campaign for the 13th District seat.

In a campaign kickoff that doubled as a birthday celebration at Hotel St. Regis, the 55-year-old touted her decades of service, including as an educator and having served as a Detroit City Council appointee to Alberta Tinsley-Talabi and Clyde Cleveland.

Sherry Gay-Dagnogo addresses the audience at the campaign kickoff for her run for 13th Congressional District on Monday January 31st 2022.

Gay-Dagnogo cited the turbulence of the last two years with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the issues that emerged from it as a driving force for her run.

Voters across the spectrum, she said, are seeking "meaningful ways to transform their lives."

"They're looking for leadership that will help us live again, that will help us thrive again," she said.

Gay-Dagnogo joins a crowded field of six other candidates, four of them Democrats.

The other Democrats are state Rep. Shri Thanedar, D-Detroit, state Sen. Adam Hollier, attorney Michael Griffie and Ralph Godbee, a former Detroit police chief.

Thanedar, a businessman who carried Detroit in his 2018 run in the Democratic governor's primary but came in last, has said he will spend $5 million in his bid for the seat. His latest campaign finance filing, from Jan. 29, showed he has that much on hand.

Nobody else in the 13th District race has yet filed finance reports, according to the Federal Election Commission. As of Monday morning, Gay-Dagnogo's name does not appear on the official candidates list.

Two Republicans, Hassan Nehme, and Articia Bomer, also have entered the race.

The 13th District seat was held for decades by the late John Conyers, a Detroit Democrat, until he resigned in Dec. 2017. Since then the seat was held briefly by Brenda Jones, who also was on the Detroit City Council at the time, and is currently held by Rashida Tlaib.

Tlaib has announced she will move and seek reelection to the new 12th District, leaving the seat open.

In passionate remarks at her campaign launch, Gay-Dagnogo framed the race as a movement focused on policies uplifting communities in need.

One of her central goals was investing in education, she told a diverse crowd.

"When we address our education system, we can set our youths on a trajectory to be successful," she said.

Describing her credentials, Gay-Dagnogo pointed to experience in the classroom, Detroit City Hall and the state Capitol, where she forged relationships to pass bipartisan legislation, she said.

She said her background and passion for public service was a plus in working on issues including criminal justice reform, affordable housing and environmental concerns.

"When we have leadership that ignores the signs of what's happening to our children and our families in these communities, we are all at fault," she said.

Some in the audience called her a formidable candidate.

"She's been a lifelong Detroiter and she's had several roles," said Dee Pearl, who teaches in Hamtramck. "As an educator, I think it's important to show support for one of our own."