Candidates for Brian Banks’ Seat Talk Character and Corruption

Learn about the candidates for District 1 here.

There are fourteen people running in next week’s special election to fill the Michigan House seat formerly held by Brian Banks. Banks resigned in February after pleading guilty to making false statements in a 2010 loan application.

The first time I met Brian Banks it was to talk about all his felonies before he was elected,” said  M.L. Elrick from our reporting partner Fox 2. “And the last time I talked to him, it was about him leaving office because he had agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor. So, my relationship with Brian Banks has been book-ended by brushes with the law.”

But he has been someone who is very highly regarded by many of his constituents as being very focused on constituent service, being very responsive. He has a very good attendance record in the House, which may seem like small things. But given the quality of a lot of our state lawmakers, those really seem like big deals — which is sad in and of itself.”

On Tuesday, District 1 voters will whittle a field of 11 Democrats and two Republicans down to one of each. Those two will go on to compete with Libertarian Greg Creswell in November.

The district – which covers Harper Woods, Grosse Pointe Woods, part of the Village of Grosse Pointe Shores and a chunk of Detroit east of Gratiot — sits within the state senate district represented by Bert Johnson. Johnson was indicted by a federal grand jury in April on charges of conspiracy and theft.

District 1 has really been kind of used and abused with gerrymandering and with having corrupt officials hold the office,” said candidate Pamela Sossi.

Sossi says the public has the right to know the truth about people running for this seat and candidates have an obligation to tell it.

Candidate Tenisha Yancey is a former assistant prosecutor for Wayne County. But in her late teens, she was accused of stalking, retail fraud and using a car as a weapon. That was more than 20 years ago.

There are things that I’ve done that I cannot say that I’m proud of,” Yancey said. “However, there are mistakes that I’ve made that helped me to become the person I am today. I not only overcame the adversities and the strifes that I had in my younger years, but I later became.not just a licensed attorney, but I became an assistant prosecuting attorney, which brings my testimony full circle.”

Yancey siad she tells her story often in schools and churches. And she has had to put it on the record with the state bar and the county prosecutor’s office.

She said being honest about her past helped her get endorsements from Prosecutor Kym Worthy, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon and County Treasurer Eric Sabree. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has even voiced a robocall on her behalf.

Burgess Dwight Foster said he thinks voters will care more about his vision for the district than his past indiscretions. His “mistakes” include carrying a concealed weapon in 1986 – when he says Detroit was a very dangerous place — and misdemeanor breaking and entering in North Carolina in 2002 – which he says resulted from his taking the heat for frat brothers when a party got out of hand.

None of us are saints and many of us our sinners,” Foster said. “But the main thing is how do we become productive after we’ve made a mistake and everybody has had some opportunity to put their best foot forward.”

State Senator Bert Johnson’s brother Justin Johnson is also on the list of primary candidates, as are Washington Youson and Keith Hollowell who ran against Banks in 2016.

The winner of the District 1 seat in November’s general election will serve through the remaining year of Banks’ two year term. 

The other Democrats running in District 1 are Sandra Bucciero, Ronald Diebel, John William Donahue, Kirkland Garey and Gowana Mancill. Republicans Mark Corcoran and William Phillips are also running.

Image credit: Michigan House Democrats

This post is a part of 2017 Local Elections: How’s metro Detroit doing?.

This series includes WDET's coverage of candidates' in local elections -- including Detroit's mayoral, clerk and council races.

About the Author

Sascha Raiyn

Reporter & Producer

Native Detroiter who grew up listening to news and music programming on Detroit Public Radio.   Follow @raiyn

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