Clerical error leaves Detroit man off City Council ballot

85-year-old man thought he was on City Council ballot until days before primary

Author: Will Jones, Local 4 Reporter, @Local4Will, wjones@wdiv.com
Published On: Aug 05 2013 10:38:01 PM EDT   Updated On: Aug 06 2013 06:15:42 AM EDT
George Cunningham
DETROIT -

Back in April, an 85-year-old retired school teacher submitted his paperwork to be an at-large Detroit City Council candidate.

"I have always had a relentless urge to participate in politics, and Detroit, they say, is in dire need of leaders," said George Cunningham.

The City Clerk's Office reviewed his paperwork and later notified him that he did not have enough valid signatures to be a candidate. The Clerk's Office gave Cunningham an option to resubmit his paperwork with the required 500 signatures before the May 14 filing deadline.

Cunningham complied. He received a letter from the Clerk's Office stating he had enough signatures to be on the primary ballot. However, that didn't appear to be the case when Cunningham saw a sample ballot this past week.

"That's when the shock hit me," he said. "I don't know what happened."

After months of campaigning, his name was not on the ballot. According to the Clerk's Office, they accidentally sent him a letter in April stating that he met the requirements when, in fact, he still did not have enough valid signatures.

It's a clerical mistake that left this long-time Detroiter thinking he was a candidate until just days before the election.

"It should not happen to anyone and I hope it doesn't happen to anyone," said Cunningham. "It's caused sleepless nights."