By MC Editorial Board
2020 has been a year full of unprecedented events. While the threat of COVID-19 looms, racial tensions have hit a fever pitch bringing an air of unpredictability to the nation. However, in the midst of all the uncertainty, there is a familiar battle being waged for Michigan’s 13th Congressional District seat.
Detroit City Council President and Former Congresswoman Brenda Jones and U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib will face each other in the August 4 primary just as they did two years ago. Steeped in controversy, the battle for the 13th District began when the late U.S. Rep. John Conyers stepped down in 2017. There were two races for his seat. Jones won the first one which determined who would get to finish the remaining two months of Conyers term and Tlaib won the actual primary and went on to become the first Palestinian American elected to congress.
While both of these women have a passion for service, they both have very different ways of getting things done. Where Tlaib has been described by some as flamboyant and outspoken, Jones has been described as having a more collaborative style and has been known to work across lines to get things done. Experts have described politics as a game of give and take. An excerpt from an interview with the Washington Post reads, “Since Tlaib entered office, her remarks have been called ‘inappropriate’ by fellow Democrats and ‘disrespectful’ by Republicans. She has refused to apologize.” It is sentiments like this that has brought Tlaib criticism and cause some to question her effectiveness.
Jones has been critical of Tlaib’s style saying, “There are things that I might feel, but I just don’t say in public and an example is ‘impeach the M-F’ on the very first day,” she said. “Not to say you’re going to always agree, but you have to be able to work with those people because you never know who you’re going to need in order to get things done that need to be done.”
An example of working well with others is evident through Jones’ endorsements. In 2018, former State Senator Coleman Young, former State Senator Ian Conyers, former State Representative Shanelle Jackson and Westland Mayor Bill Wild were all candidates in the 13th Congressional (Democratic) District race. Today, these four leaders wholeheartedly endorse Brenda Jones for Congress in her 2020 bid for the 13th Congressional District seat.
Tlaib counters that she has been effective, getting legislation she sponsored to protect pension benefits signed into law, as well as getting an amendment approved in a recent infrastructure bill offering billions to replace lead pipes. “People may take issue with how I express myself or say that I’m always out with my bullhorn but my record speaks for itself. I’m doing the work.”
Tlaib is an attorney, activist and veteran state lawmaker who has become quite popular as a member of “The Squad,” an informal name given to Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib. As a member of “The Squad” Tlaib has had made just as many headlines for her feuds as she has for her accomplishments. Oddly enough while many accuse her of not being able to reach across the aisle to negotiate, her beefs have definitely gone across and through party lines. She has been the target of President Trump’s frustration and even Pelosi took shots at The Squad dismissing them as four people with a following in “their Twitter world” but no following on Capitol Hill.
This leaves many wondering if Tlaib’s celebrity is impeding her ability to be effective. This is not a question that the 13th can afford to ponder. Michigan’s 13th Congressional District is the third poorest in our nation. And with that being the case, whoever represents the 13th has to be a formidable negotiator in order to secure resources for the area. “I’m not interested in being a celebrity. I am not a rock star and Tlaib has been everywhere doing everything except adequately serving the people of the 13th District,” said Jones.
Detroit accounts for 60 percent of the 13th Congressional District and Brenda Jones knows Detroit. Tlaib, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, represents a majority-Black district. Some of Jones’ supporters, like John Conyers’ great-nephew Ian Conyers, have been observing the distinction, telling the AP that the district should be represented by a Black member as “folks are wanting someone to make their case in their own words.”
With over 12 years of experience as a public servant Brenda Jones has consistently been an advocate for her constituents as a member of City Council. In November of 2005, she was elected to the Detroit City Council. Since 2014, she has served as the City Council President working diligently to bring jobs, economic opportunities, neighborhood revitalization and educational resources to all, positively impacting the quality of life for residents, public safety personnel, senior citizens, small business owners, government employees, veterans and union members.
We believe that Brenda Jones is the right choice to continue the work that needs to be done in the 13th District. Jones is a trailblazer, a visionary, and a humanitarian. Working to make Detroit a more prosperous city for everyone has always been her focus and she will no doubt double down on that mission thus bringing much needed attention and resources to the 13th District.
And while we appreciate Tlaib’s unapologetic passion, initiatives and commitment to her district, we believe that Brenda Jones will better leverage her personal relationships, professional acumen and years of experience to help take the 13th District from poverty to prosperity.
Candidate Jones’ Statement: “Those in the 13th District have felt neglected due to a lack of representation since the retirement of its long-serving Congressman. I will work to restore the trust of those in the District by providing a high level of accessibility and accountability for getting things done. Many of my activities will focus on continuing the growth and development of the District, with emphasis on its neighborhoods. I will address barriers to employment and provide resources for the hundreds of returning citizens who wish to contribute to the same neighborhoods they used to hurt. I will advocate for fair and affordable housing options to help neighborhoods maintain their diverse strengths. We must all be engaged in the great story of recovery and amenities must be enhanced to attract businesses and residents.”