Xiong, Lemmons Highlight Warren Field; Crowded Dem Primary In Westland
December 5, 2023
Five Democrats and one Republican filed to run in the special election for the 25th House District in Westland, according to the Wayne County Clerk’s office. In Warren, three Democrats and three Republicans entered the race for the 13th district.
The deadline to file, announced Nov. 22 by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, was 4 p.m. Monday, with a special primary election set for Jan. 30 and a general election date of April 16.
In Westland, candidates are running for the seat vacated by former Rep., now Westland Mayor Kevin Coleman.
The list of Democrats includes Wayne-Westland Community Schools Trustee Melandie Hines, U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit)’s program manager Layla Taha, Westland City Council President Pro Tempore Andrea Rutkowski, City Council member Peter Herzberg and former Michigan League of Conservation Voters director of partnerships Shannon Rochon.
On the Republican side, Josh Powell, a former Westland City Council candidate, is running.
In Warren, running for the seat vacated by former Rep. and now Mayor Lori Stone, the list of Democrats includes Macomb County Commissioner Mai Xiong, former Rep. LaMar Lemmons III and Suzanne Ostosh.
Running as a Republican are Brandon Cumbee, Ronald Singer and Curtiss Ostosh.
Xiong is serving her second term on the Macomb County Board of Commissioners.
She was born in a Thailand-based refugee camp, arriving in the U.S. at the age of three after her parents, part of a northern Laos ethnic group that aided America during the Vietnam War, fled to avoid persecution.
She received U.S. citizenship in 1997, attending first Macomb Community College and then the College for Creative Studies, where she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts. She also attended the Harvard Kennedy School’s senior executives in state and local government program, and the Michigan Political Leadership Program at Michigan State University.
Xiong also founded a nonprofit civic engagement group dedicated to serving economically disadvantaged communities of color.
“As a county commissioner, I have prioritized bipartisanship, equitable allocation of local tax dollars, as well as state and federal funding and championed community services that help families who need it the most,” Xiong said. ” I will continue to fight for our community and ensure we have a voice at the table.”
Lemmons previously served in the state House from 1999 through 2007 as a Democrat, the second generation of his family to do so.
He was the House Black Caucus floor leader and served as a legislative analyst for then-co-speaker Curtis Hertel, in addition to founding a political consulting firm.
He served on the Detroit Board of Education, at one point serving as president, along with volunteering with youth and the homeless and teaching social studies in African-American studies.
Lemmons has made previous unsuccessful runs for the state Senate. He said about 25% of the 13th House District is in Detroit. He said he’d like to do away with the Emergency Manager Law or other laws “targeting the city of Detroit” that were passed when the Republicans were in charge.
“There is a lack of institutional memory in the Legislature and so they have not prioritized these issues,” he said.
Ostosh, 62, is executive director of nonprofit Christian fellowship Harvest Time Hope and founder of FDN, a Warren nonprofit described as “redirecting good food that would have gone to landfills to feeding people in need.”
She is opposed by her husband, Curtiss Ostosh, 61, who works alongside her at Harvest Time as a pastor and is running as a Warren Republican.
The pair told MIRS they were married at 2:22 p.m. on Feb. 22, 2022.
When asked about their respective candidacies, Curtiss Ostosh said, “We just hope one of us makes it.”
Both have had brushes with the law from deep in their past.
Back in Westland, Hines is a Wayne-Westland Community School Board trustee and secretary, who also serves as chief executive officer of political consulting firm Hines Consulting and Management Services.
She has served in her school board position since 2014, and has been a 13th Congressional District precinct delegate since 2012.
Hines is also a former director of contracting and grants for the Inkster Housing Commission and director of special projects for the city of Inkster, with several other prior jobs in banking.
A graduate of Saginaw Valley State University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, she earned her master’s degree from the University of Phoenix in human resources management. She also sits on the Wayne County Women’s Commission.
Taha, also a Democrat, is a program manager and former regional field manager for U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit).
Prior to her time in politics, she worked as a data and policy analyst for the nonprofit Acumen, and as a public health consultant for the Universidad de Almería.
Taha earned her bachelor’s degree in international studies in global environment and health from the University of Michigan, during which time she worked as a research assistant and international student and scholar services assistant.
She received her master’s degree in public health in 2019 from Columbia University, prior to which she worked as an immigration assistant for the University of Michigan.
Herzberg has been a Westland City council member since 2016.
His campaign website boasts a 13-year attendance record for council meetings, and he works as a project finance specialist for CEPM Services. He’s also worked in consulting, engineering and program management, and is a certified professional inspector with InterNACHI.
Born and raised in Westland, he graduated from John Glenn High School, going on to receive his bachelor’s degree in finance from Wayne State University.
Rutkowski is the Westland City Council president pro tempore. She was recently elected to her second term and works as a teacher.
Rochon, a Wayne Democrat, is the director of partnerships for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, president of non-profit BlackCount and CEO of the clothing store Colors Collection.
He was previously chief of staff for Detroit City Council member Roy McCalister, and worked on the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign as a constituency outreach director in Iowa.
Rochon received his bachelor’s degree in applied science from Eastern Michigan University, attending Harvard University for business administration and management and Western Governors University for human resources management.
Article courtesy MIRS News for SBAM’s Lansing Watchdog newsletter