Our decision to endorse State Sen. Hansen Clarke to be Michigan’s next 13th Congressional District representative over incumbent Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick was not an easy one.

The editorial board of the Michigan Chronicle pondered for weeks on this decision before we arrived at an almost evenly divided vote with a slim majority to recommend Clarke to voters as the suitable congressional representative.

Not all of us agree with the majority decision of the editorial board, but we believe in the democratic process and that the majority opinion holds sway on such matters of crucial importance.

We do not take lightly the value that our readers place on us because of the public service we provide by ensuring that all that is in the public domain is in the public’s best interests.

We understand the complex nature of our role in the community as an entity between the people and the government, ensuring that our readers see the candidates for who they are beyond the periphery.

Leading to the endorsement vote, the Michigan Chronicle sat down with candidates Clarke and Kilpatrick to have them explain to us what they will do to bring badly needed jobs to their district and this region.

Kilpatrick said that is what she has already been doing, including the $1 billion in federal aid she’s brought to the district and the state. She talked about the Comprehensive Employment Training Act (CETA) and how it could be used to retrain people for new jobs.

She also discussed the funding she has made available to universities and for SMART and D-DOT buses, and noticeably on the campaign trail she has been referring to taxpayer transportation funding in this region as “that’s my money” instead of tax dollars funded by those who sent her to Congress.

As the only member of the House Appropriations Committee, an important seat in this tough economic time, Kilpatrick, has not adequately explained to her constituents what that means. Naming big projects and dropping high figures, yet failing to explain how that improves the lives of average people in her district does not bode well for a veteran lawmaker.

Two years ago when she was barely returned to Congress, Kilpatrick said she will retire from her seat when she decides to. This is an affront to democracy because it means that her legitimacy is not derived from the people who elected her. For someone to have narrowly retained her position to tell voters after the election that she will make the decision to leave office shows that she is not holding on to the public trust, but on the strength of her ambitions.

Everyone has a right to offer themselves as a choice for public service, but it is the people’s decision to choose.

During the historic 2008 presidential campaign, we were painfully reminded of Kilpatrick’s appearance of neutrality in the race for president at the time when then Sen. Barack Obama was fighting for votes with then Sen. Hilary Clinton.

Kilpatrick was head of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) at that time.

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