Rep. Brenda Lawrence’s retirement leaves the new 13th wide open, a neighborhood that includes downtown and midtown Detroit and stretches from Downriver to Grosse Pointes.
Michigan’s redistricting commission changed the current legislative boundaries, including the 12th and 13th congressional districts. In the 12th, Rep. Rashida Tlaib says she will run in the new district.
This leaves the new 13th wide open, a neighborhood that includes Downtown and Midtown Detroit and stretches from Downriver communities to Grosse Pointes.
Representative Brenda Lawrence, Michigan’s only black congresswoman, announced she was not seeking reelection, and her retirement rocked the race in the 13th District.
Here’s who officially announced their candidacy for the seat on January 24.
Sherry Gay Dagnogo
The former state representative for Michigan’s 8th District serving Northwest Detroit is now a member of the Detroit School Board. She was elected in 2020.
A former science teacher at a Detroit public school, she holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Wayne State University in instructional technology.
She was among a group of current and former state lawmakers to pursue the newly drawn legislative maps.
“Detroit deserves to have black leaders,” Gay-Dagnogo said. “We want to make sure our children have the opportunity to see themselves in the Legislative Assembly and for the people who will fight for them in our classrooms, in our schools to advocate for policy.”
The former Detroit police chief, who left the department after having an affair that became public knowledge, is now an ordained minister. Godbee says woe to anyone campaigning by trying to blame him for his past indiscretion.
“I’m from east Detroit,” says Godbee. “I know how to fight. And if you’re thinking of picking me up, you better think again. Because I didn’t get where I didn’t know how to fight and work my way through the Detroit Police Department to be its 42nd Chief. And I’m proud of every minute I spent serving God’s people.
Godbee says he is entering the race in part because Brenda Lawrence — the only black member of Michigan’s current congressional delegation — decided not to run.
Michael Griffie attended Wayne State University on a football scholarship and earned a degree in English. Griffie worked as a high school English teacher for six years before becoming the founding principal of Cornerstone Health High School. He received his law degree from Western Michigan Thomas Cooley Law School in 2014 and worked with Butzel Long as an employment litigator and as a lobbyist for Michigan Legislative Consultants. He is the Senior Executive Director of External Affairs for Teach for America, a two-year AmeriCorps program that aims to address educational inequities by placing teachers in underserved urban and rural communities across the United States.
“Right now, I believe we need hard work and consensus whose goal here is [in Detroit]says Griffie in a campaign video.
The state senator’s district lies entirely within the 13th congressional district. The army second lieutenant and former firefighter is in his first term in the Senate.
He says he’s running to help bring about structural change.
“It’s a cliché to say our system is down,” says Hollier. “We all know that, but what we don’t talk about is that it’s intentional. Our system is not designed to take care of people. It’s basically designed to do exactly what it does.
Hollier earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University where he played safety on the varsity football team. He holds a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Michigan.
State Representative for Michigan’s 3rd District and former businessman campaigned against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2018 and is serving his first term in Lansing, representing parts of Detroit’s west side, where he moved after his defeat .
“My ability to self-fund my campaign keeps me from being dominated, from being influenced by corporations and special interests. And I can really fight for the people of Detroit,” Thanedar told WDET.
Thanedar immigrated to the United States in 1979. After earning his Ph.D. in chemistry, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Michigan from 1982 to 1988. After obtaining an MBA from Fontbonne College in 1987, he worked in the private sector before entering politics.
Reporting by Quinn Klinefelter, Russ McNamara and Eli Newman. The Associated Press contributed to this report.