Civil rights

Civil rights attorney Michael Griffie sees ‘real-world’ experience as a differentiator in crowded 13th congressional race

Eli Newman

Michigan has a long list of candidates seeking to represent all 13 statese Congressional District, which includes much of Detroit, Grosse Pointe, and various downstream communities.

Michael Griffie is one of them.

The civil rights lawyer has the approval of The Detroit News, State Representative Tyrone Carter and the Detroit Police Officers Association. Griffie spoke with WDET’s Eli Newman about running for Congress.

Michael Griffie: I am the son of a school social worker and a special education teacher in the Detroit public schools. 77 years of combined membership between them. I followed in my father’s footsteps and became a high school English teacher and then a high school principal. While I was director, I went to law school in the evenings. And after graduating from law school and passing the bar, I worked at one of Michigan’s largest law firms, Butzel Long, and currently I’m a civil rights attorney. And I’m running because I believe that people like us, the ones who have their feet on the ground to do the job, should represent us in Washington, DC.

Eli Newman: What do you think the 13th Congressional District needs? What do you hope to represent when you take this seat?

Claw: You know, the 13th precinct, I believe, is going to be one of the most diverse boroughs in the United States. And I believe the greatest need of this district is someone who can bring the whole district together, so that this district can speak with one voice. I believe that such a person should have experienced the whole district. I’ve been an assistant manager at Taylor, I’ve been a manager at a K-8 [school] in Hamtramck, I worked in downtown Detroit at a large law firm. I believe having representation from across the district is going to be a top priority.

The issues themselves, although I think they’re really specific. One thing people want to know is who is going to fight for them, who is going to fight for their ability to have the opportunity to vote. Right now, the January 6 hearings have uncovered an incredible amount of damaging evidence that shows our democracy is more fragile than it has ever been. And we need to make sure we have someone in Washington who is willing to fight and protect our right to vote.

Obviously, what happened a few weeks ago, with the overthrow of Roe v. Wade, one of the darkest days in American history, I believe we need a fighter who knows how to fight. And I believe that’s going to take place in the Judiciary Committee. As a civil rights lawyer, I believe I am the most qualified to be selected as a member of this committee. This is where the fight is going to be for women’s reproductive rights.

And then finally, we have to look at our elders. We must protect the social security of our elders. I am for lifting the social security tax cap. Someone who earns $25,000, $30,000 a year on his entire salary because he receives social security taxes, but someone who earns more than $150,000, he does not have to pay contributions Social Security on any amount over that. And I think that when we talk about keeping our promise to seniors, that means taking the necessary decisions so that we can protect social security from the promise we made to them.

new man: In this race for 13e, there are many candidates all vying for the same spot. What do you see as the thing that sets you apart from the rest of the crowd?

Claw: In fact, I have been in our community to do the work. I didn’t fall off anyone’s political tree. I haven’t made an angle for this job for my entire career. And instead, I’ve been a teacher, I’ve been a principal, I’ve been a lawyer. I have been in the real world. And I think that separates me first and foremost. The other thing I think voters really need to question is motivation. Why is one of these nine candidates running? And I’ll tell you, I’m here for the right reasons. I want to serve. I want to serve my community, I want to serve my country. And like I said, because I’ve been in the real world doing the job of a teacher, a principal, I think I’ve learned the skills, not just the analytical skills, to be able to turn bills into laws, but actually represent an incredibly diverse community.

Check out all the 2022 primary elections taking place on August 2 at WDET’s Voter Information Center.

Photo credit: Michael Griffie

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  • Eli Newman is a reporter/producer for 101.9 WDET, covering breaking news, politics and community affairs. His favorite Motown track is “It’s The Same Old Song” by the Four Tops.

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