Politics & Prejudices
Aiming at John Conyers
He’s been a congressman since ’65. Challenger Bert Johnson says his district needs a change
Published: October 26, 2011
If anything, the new district may be a little less poor now than it was, thanks to the addition of some working-class suburbs, including Garden City and Romulus, Westland and part of Dearborn Heights.
But there is not much money here and a whole lot of need. Bert Johnson says he is raising cash, and his "Cadillac dream" would be a budget of $700,000 to try to knock off Conyers. He knows that winning will be anything but easy. Melvin "Butch" Hollowell tried back in 1994, after the congressman was seen frantically waving at cars from the median strip on Livernois one morning, barefoot in the wee hours.
For a while, it looked like Butch had a shot. But then Conyers, or his staff, expertly manipulated the late Marie Farrell-Donaldson into the race to split the opposition vote, and that was that.
Something like that could happen again ... but times are a-changing. Bert Johnson, born in 1973, is a man of another generation who is less interested in posturing than how to prevent mortgage foreclosures; less interested in making statements than working out compromises to try to get something done for his district.
After our breakfast, he left to spend the rest of the day with his son (also Bert, of course), who just turned 13; and the deal was that Dad would be at the service of little Bertram and his buddies, starting with a movie. ("I don't get to pick," Dad said.)
"I don't think a life of public service means you don't give your kids attention." He thinks the 706,000 people in his district also deserve more attention, and intends to try and get it for them.
That is, if he can get their attention and votes next summer.
It will be interesting to see how this race plays out.
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