DETROIT — Half of Detroit’s eight mayoral candidates have been convicted of felony crimes involving drugs, assault or weapons.

Three of the contenders on next Tuesday’s primary ballot were charged with gun crimes, and two of them were charged for assault with intent to commit murder, a Detroit News analysis shows .

Some of the offenses date back decades. The most recent was in 2008.

Political consultant Greg Bowens says there are candidates in every election cycle with past hardships.

“Black marks on your record show you have lived a little and have overcome some challenges,” Bowens said. “They (the candidates) deserve the opportunity to be heard, but they also deserve to have the kind of scrutiny that comes along with trying to get an important elected position.”

State election law says convicted felons can vote and run for office as long as they’re not incarcerated or guilty of certain fraud-related offenses or crimes involving a breach of the public trust.

First-time contender Donna Marie Pitts, 58, has multiple felony convictions dating back to 1977, according to court records in Wayne and Oakland counties. Pitts said she’s open about her convictions and wants a “better way of life” for Detroit residents.

“I don’t hide it. God has brought me out,” Pitts said. “I hope (voters) don’t look at it as negative but as my experience, and I can help. I want to fight for them.”

Pitts said she aims to advocate for an overhaul of the justice system while continuing to support law enforcement.

Tuesday’s mayoral primary election is the first since Detroit exited bankruptcy in 2014. The candidates will be narrowed down to two, who will face off in the fall.


Information from: The Detroit News, http://detnews.com/