Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press Published 4:42 p.m. ET Feb. 21, 2018 | Updated 5:10 p.m. ET Feb. 21, 2018
WASHINGTON — Former state Rep. Shanelle Jackson, who now works for the Moroun family-controlled Detroit International Bridge Co., is running for the seat in Congress vacated in December by former U.S. Rep. John Conyers, she announced Wednesday.
Jackson, who left the state House after six years in 2012, becomes the eighth Democrat to announce she is running for the vacant slot in the overwhelmingly Democratic district. Westland Mayor Bill Wild announced his candidacy in the Aug. 7 primary on Tuesday night.
“We need a congresswoman with the energy, courage and strategic skills to effectively fight the Trump agenda,” Jackson said. “A woman who will clearly and unabashedly speak truth to power. I’m equipped and ready to serve.”
Born and raised in northwest Detroit, Jackson said she was running to improve the lot of workers in Wayne County, nearly half of whom she said “can’t afford basic necessities for their children after (working) a 40-hour work week.”
“In Wayne County, we’ve gone from putting Americans on wheels to needing Meals on Wheels, just to survive in many instances,” Jackson said in a news release. “No matter your gender, age or race, these are sad and unprecedented times for working people across the county. I’ll fight hard to get the federal resources we need.”
According to a biography on Jackson’s state representative page, which is still active online, she is the eldest of three children raised in a single parent household after her father died when she was 2.
Her LinkedIn profile says that after leaving office in 2012, Jackson worked for the state Department of Transportation before going to work as government relations director for the Detroit International Bridge Co. — which owns and operates the Ambassador Bridge — in 2014.
She joins a Democratic field that besides Wild includes Conyers’ son, John Conyers III; Conyers’ grand-nephew, state Sen. Ian Conyers of Detroit; Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones; former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib; state Sen. Coleman Young II, the son of a legendary Detroit mayor; and Michael Gilmore, a former Democratic organizer.
In his announcement Tuesday night, Wild said the vacant seat was a “call to service” and he hoped to bring to Congress his more than 20 years of experience as a public servant. He’s been mayor of Westland since 2007 and was re-elected for another term last fall. Before that, he was a member of the local planning committee and city council, including two years as president.
As the only non-Detroiter in a congressional district dominated by the city, Wild might be seen as a long shot. But he also might be counting on his popularity outside of the city — and in one of the larger cities in the district — to carry him to the nomination should the many Detroit candidates split the city vote.
In announcing his candidacy, Wild touted his record as mayor, saying he improved transportation options for seniors, implemented youth jobs programs and put in place anti-discrimination policies for LGBTQ residents in the areas of housing, employment and other services in the city, Michigan’s 10th largest.
John Conyers retired in early December after allegations surfaced that he had sexually harassed or otherwise mistreated women who worked in his office. Conyers denied the complaints. At the time of his departure, Conyers, 88, was the longest-serving active member of Congress, having represented Detroit in the U.S. House since 1965.