I decided to run for the United States Congress because the status quo is just not working. When we look around, it is abundantly clear we are not getting the most out of our federal representation. In fact, federal agencies in our nation's capital refer to Michigan as a "donor state" -- meaning our tax dollars go out, but a disproportionate amount of it does not filter back for our communities.
Rep. John Conyers has inhabited the halls of power in Washington, D.C. for nearly 50 years. Logic would argue that as a result, he should be one of the most effective members of Congress in the nation and our community should be flush with federal dollars to fix our roads, infrastructure, schools and more. Sadly, this is not the case.
The establishment does not want me to win this election. Recently, an individual that leads one of our region's top organizations has said I will never have their support for Congress, or any other office, because I am not "pliable." To me, this was indeed a compliment. To those that have held power for decades and are still desperately clinging to it today, being pliable is a good thing. Pliable elected officials, by definition, yield easily to the whims of others -- usually those who fund their campaigns or sell them their endorsements.
My commitment to the voters in Michigan's new 13th Congressional District is that I will never fit this definition. I have grown and flourished as a state representative and state senator, chalking up wins on behalf of my constituents day after day. I will never act against the interests of our cherished seniors; our children who depend on us to make the right decisions for their futures; our hardworking families; and all of our friends, neighbors and loved ones who -- for too long -- have lived with a government that is unresponsive to our needs.
In Congress, I will operate just as I have in the Michigan Legislature. I will never be "pliable" and will speak truth to power. When Robert Bobb was illegally seizing power over the Detroit Public Schools' academics, outsourcing local jobs to out-of-state firms and lying to citizens while exacerbating the district's debt that he was hired to eliminate, I was the first to call for his resignation. Conversely, Rep. Conyers was complicit in these schemes as somebody who served on Bobb's bond committee and donated nearly $20,000 to the deceitful Proposal S campaign. I've spoken out against the prison-industrial complex, it's destructive nature and its effect on our communities. On the other hand, Rep. Conyers as the former Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, has been remarkably silent on this and other contemporary criminal justice issues.
It is no surprise that the establishment fears my candidacy. Anybody who speaks the truth -- much less acts on it -- is a threat to their unchecked grasp on power. Should I have the honor to serve as the new Congressman from the 13th District, I will take on the special interests who hold no reservations about trampling our rights and dignity in the name of earning an extra dollar. Together, we can protect our interests and make our government work for us.
Follow Sen. Bert Johnson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SenBertJohnson