Flint, MI — Six candidates have filed to run for a seat representing Flint in the Michigan House of Representatives.

Rep. Cynthia Neeley, D-Flint, is running for her first full term in the seat. She won a partial term during a special election earlier this year, after her husband, Sheldon Neeley, vacated the seat to serve as Flint mayor.

“As a state Representative, I will continue to fight to bring resources to all Flint families and ensure that we have a strong voice in state government,” Neeley said. “In my short time in Lansing, I’m proud of the work that my staff has done to help Flint’s families and the strong relationships I bring to the state capitol.”

Neeley said her current priority is ensuring that the state is prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic, and pointed to the first two bills she’s introduced in the House: a tax deduction for first responders and an expansion of child care subsidy income eligibility.

Four candidates are challenging Neeley in the Democratic primary: Deltonya Burns, Claudia Perkins-Milton, Diana Phillips and Arthur Woodson. Only one candidate, James Miraglia, filed to run in the Republican primary.

Phillips has been a chemistry professor at Kettering University for 30 years and, when she retires at the end of the academic year, was planning to spend her time focusing on her bed and breakfast, Knob Hill B & B.

But, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the bed and breakfast has been closed for over a month.

“With all of my newfound free time, after checking the credentials and experience of the other candidates for the 34th district of the state House, I decided to throw my hat in the ring,” Phillips said. “I can make a real difference.”

Woodson said he is running for the seat because the people of Flint feel unseen by their elected officials.

“Our community is tired of politicians running their campaign on empty promises,” Woodson said. “Once candidates become elected officials, they get into office and turn their backs on the people who believed in them.”

Burns, Perkins-Milton and Miraglia could not be reached for comment.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton will also face a challenger in the Democratic primary.

Trachelle Young, a former prosecuting attorney for the city of Flint and former Genesee County assistant prosecuting attorney, filed to run for the position.

Young was one of the first attorneys to file a lawsuit over the Flint water crisis and remains a part of multiple litigation in local, state and federal courts related to the water crisis.

Young said she is “not afraid to take on issues, cases, caused and occasionally people knowing they may be uphill battles.”

“I’m not running for Genesee County Prosecutor to tip the scales of justice in anyone’s favor,” Young said. “I simply want to balance them so there can be real access, equality and justice for all.”

Young said that Leyton has “neglected to acknowledge or address the racial disparities and the dysfunction in the system.”

Young said she will implement four proactive ideas if elected: community prosecution, restorative justice, juvenile justice and mentorships.

Leyton could not be reached for comment.

Michigan voters will cast their ballots in the primary on Aug. 4, followed by the general election on Nov. 3.

Andrew Roth is a reporter and photographer covering politics and policy in Michigan, as well technology, culture and their convergence. Andrew is a journalism student at Michigan State University and first...

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