DETROIT (WWJ) – One man’s campaign to unseat longtime Congressman John Conyers might be in jeopardy after it was revealed he owes thousands of dollars to Detroit.
Sources tell WWJ City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas the non-profit group Detroit Association of Black Organizations (DABO), headed by Rev. Horace Sheffield, owes about $70,000 to the city’s public lighting department.
In an exclusive interview, Sheffield acknowledged the power was shut off Monday at the building on West Davison Avenue that houses his church, New Destiny Christian Fellowship.
Sheffield would not comment on how much is owed, but said the building was sub-leased to Andrew Young Charter School, which abruptly shut down in January — leaving him stuck with the bills.
Despite owing the city money, Sheffield said his campaign to unseat Rep. Conyers will be unaffected.
“I don’t know why it would [hurt the campaign]. I mean, everybody in this district is going through some inability to pay bills. My organization took on educating disadvantaged and troubled youth. At the end of the day, after doing seven years of that, it put us in debt,” Sheffield said.
“This is exactly why I’m running for Congress, because there is no real relief available to people who struggle. It’s not an embarrassment, I mean, most of my life I’ve paid all of my bills. Not only have I paid my bills, I’ve paid the bills here. I mean, the reason DABO is still going is because I’ve spent almost my entire life savings,” he continued.
When reached for comment, Detroit COO Gary Brown said while he can’t discuss individual accounts, at least 33 corporate customers are more than a year delinquent in payments to the lighting department.
“The city has attempted to work with these customers to collect the money that is owed to the city,” Brown said in a statement. “We invite businesses that may be at risk of having its power shut off due to non-payment to contact us immediately to work out a payment plan.”