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Rep. Olumba enters race for mayor

Rep. John Olumba with his family

Rep. John Olumba with his family

DETROIT — State Rep. John Olumba, I-D, Detroit, says he wants to lead Detroit.

In an interview with the Michigan Citizen, Olumba said he wants to lead the troubled city into an “age of revival.”

“I’m encouraged because we’ve always shown our ability to bounce back,” he said.

But he questions the record of some of the candidates.

“Are we going to go with someone who’s been a part of the political establishment? Across the United States, part of the slogan was ‘forward.’ It’s time for people to stop looking backward,” he said.

The newcomer to the mayoral race says he’s not worried about the other candidates and says he represents innovation.

His plan for the city, he says, is trilateral: a war on poverty, corruption and crime.  According to him, all go hand in hand.

“Crime is a subset of poverty. Multigenerational poverty is a reflection of the government. I think  poverty and political corruption and cronyism in the state of Michigan and southeast Michigan in Detroit go hand in hand,” he said. “Poverty becomes overarching when there’s a lack of [those in power] caring about the plight of the people.”

Olumba, who called for a federal investigation into the alleged corruption of Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, says his crusade against corruption is beyond politics.

As someone whose family member was a friend of the Kilpatrick family, Olumba says he understands how graft seriously disrupts the progress of a city. Akunna Olumba dated Bernard Kilpatrick.

“After we finally slam the door on the old cartels that have fed off the people’s misery,” he said, “we need a plan that will revive our city to greatness.”

His plan, the Detroit Partnership for Hope, he says, is based off a 60-bill package he introduced in the last legislative session called the Detroit Revival and Restructuring Omnibus.

The two-term representative says the plan incorporates the participation of the people and is designed to benefit everyday Detroit residents by placing their needs as a priority. He uses his own experiences as an example.

“I was raised in [this] city profoundly poor,” he told the Michigan Citizen.  “I still live in Conant Gardens, right next to an abandoned home, and until people of Detroit get relief, I’m perfectly fine with that.”

Olumba says he’s made great sacrifices to be able to represent residents in his district, many times campaigning with black and white photocopies.

“The Lord has blessed us tremendously, by the way, making our money stretch.”

His dedication to his constituency and the betterment of the city is greater than the other candidates, he says.

It’s important to him that the city of Detroit — where he is raising his three daughters with his wife of five years, who’s expecting their son — is a safe place.

Detroit is a difficult city for women to live in, and he says his job is to change that.

“I’ve been to many places,” said the law graduate, who studied in London, England. “But I’m dedicated to my hometown.”

Olumba took heat from his colleagues recently when he left the Democratic Caucus in Lansing and declared himself an “independent democrat.” (See the March 3 issue at

“I’m still a registered Democrat,” he says, proudly claiming that he’s voted more democratic than any of his Democrat colleagues.

See next week’s issue for the Michigan Citizen’s Q & A with Representative Olumba on his plan for the city of Detroit. Olumba discusses emergency management, public safety, job creation, the Public Lighting Authority, the city’s port authorities, education and the new International Trade Crossing Bridge.

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