Once upon a time, I thought I wanted to run for president and when I found out how much that would cost, I decided to run for an open seat on our city council. Now, I’ve never been overly fond of politics or politicians, but I thought I’d give it try any way. What I learned is–I was right to distrust the political machinery, even in a local election. Corruption has a stench that reaches into the hearts of small towns as well as big cities.
I followed the procedures I was given to get on the ballot–getting the required number of signatures, filing all the paperwork and having it done before deadline. On Memorial Day–2019, I was told I had a target on my back. I heard what was said, but really didn’t give it much thought. “What can they do to me?” I thought. I knew there was nothing negative anyone would be able to find on me and if anything were publicized, it would have to be because someone made it up. Well, they did, but that didn’t stop me.
So, about a month or two before the election on November 5, 2019, I found out the plot–an 83 year-old white man who had been the former mayor and councilmember was running for the council seat because he didn’t want another African American on the council (we had one who got there by manipulation). Then things got really juicy. I was provided the man’s historical stance in trying to keep Black people out of the city–from blocking the sale of a building to a Black Church, to manipulating the Council into buying the building–only to discover once the city couldn’t afford the upkeep and had to close the building, the building ended up in the hands of a Black Church, anyway.
The name of the city was changed because it included the word, “Detroit” because some people didn’t want the association with the bigger city. About 20 years ago, the Black population was insignificant to most, but since then (around 2008), the numbers have been growing and now, it is believed that 40% of population is Black.
In 2017, the city was sued by the Department of Justice for allegedly violating civil rights voting laws. In November of 2017, a Black person was elected (primarily because of split votes between five Black candidates). In June of 2019, the city and DOJ reached a settlement–the city would use Ranked Choice Voting to establish a pathway for minority candidates to be elected. I ran, but was not successful in my bid for the seat because (viola) the plot to keep me off the council worked (name recognition).
How did it work? The “former mayor” of over 20 years ago, put out campaign signs for himself, another council candidate and a mayoral candidate. Whether others were involved remains to be discovered, but I’m guessing, someone will talk and someone else will hear about it. With the three signs put together in various locations, it gave the impression the three candidates were running as a team or slate (and since the three candidates were white, it made the DOJ lawsuit very relevant). And apparently, that’s how a number of people saw it–manipulation at work.
On election day, November 5, 2019, before the polls closed, the spouse of one of the candidates for council (the incumbent) happened to hold a conversation with a poll worker that he didn’t know, was there for me (correction–he did know). He laid out the entire plan (that was misunderstood by source). “My wife and Henry (pseudonym) will win, and Mary will get a 1000 votes, then we’ll offer her an opportunity to apply for an appointment” (contextually, this was not reported with full knowledge and understanding of what was being said. The 1000 vote reference was about past experiences for candidates to win).
I got 1061 votes and the next day when we were given the results of the election, I was asked to consider applying for the appointment of a vacated seat. (This blog post ignited conversations–perhaps needed conversations in order to clear the air of any all misunderstandings. However, looking at the “entire” situation, without parsing–the optics were not good and possibly led to the misunderstandings, but I am yet analyzing to understand the motivation that prompted this entire discussion).
While I was considering applying, I got the word not to take it because it had been pre-planned and was possibly in violation of the Open Meetings Act. The way it was explained to me, by someone who had first-hand knowledge of the manipulative way the council worked. Some time ago, a seat was vacated and a number of people applied for the appointment. After the interviews, some were told they were sure to get it, but they didn’t. One of the interviewees found out later that a member of the council was friends with the wife of one of the interviewees and had been promised the positioned. The other person felt this was a waste of his time and since that “policy” was apparently the status quo, he didn’t want me involved with shenanigans. I’m grateful for the info.
Here’s what was offered: I would get the vote for the appointment as long as another person didn’t apply for it. I have documentation of what was said, just in case one or more of parties involved happens to read this. I love paper trails. And for those reading, before jumping to conclusions, try to understand how I perceived what I did. Being a minority, brings a certain mistrust to a number of situations and when a person “watches” what happens (not just hears), I tend to look a little closer look at everything, not just one thing. I’ve been told before that perhaps, I’m too analytical and that may be true, but being analytical means I examine all sides of an issue before drawing definitive conclusions. Note: DOJ has since responded to an inquiry by me and confirmed what I already knew–name recognition used as a means to choose candidates–will not change using Ranked Choice Voting. Basically, nothing much will ever change unless a person changes their name and that still may not work.
So, my proposal to fill the vacant seat is to appoint the person who was already voted for by the residents, rather than have 4-member council (likely divided) to try to make the decision. Based upon the “vacancy” section in the city charter, the council appoints the person to fill the vacancy–“before the DOJ settlement decree” and since the rules for voting changed, there should also be a change in filling a vacancy since the Election Results record shows, how the next person ranked on the ballots with the residents’ input. The one thing the “plotters” overlooked is who would win the mayor’s seat, but that’s for another article. In that article, I’ll explain how “manipulation” won the day over egos. After all, the same manipulation that worked the first time around–when five Black candidates were in the race, won again–vote splitting–a winning strategy.
Too bad manipulation won’t hold seat. Tick-tock–the 6 month clock is running! Being escorted out a bar for being drunk (and I can imagine disorderly) right before an election–is not a good look and certainly not a “good representation” of self or city.
More next time! Keep watching as the “world turns and manipulation rules” in Eastpointe, MI! At the behest of the residents, I’m going to apply for the appointment and we’ll see how that works, in 2019. If it wasn’t for the residents, I’d call it a day and move on with my life–still helping where I can–but without the weight of corrupt politicism as a burden.
Author’s note: While some folks were trying to block me from winning an election out of pure racial bias, they forgot to keep watch of the mayoral candidate–who just happened to be Black–and won. Talk about Irony!