The stealth state Senate primary winner from Detroit surfaces Saturday and talks about her surprising win Tuesday, knocking off a surbanite who has been in the legislature since 2013.
Betty Jean Alexander’s first published interview is with Violet Ikonomova, who joined Metro Times last year after six years as a broadcast journalist in Washington, D.C.
The so-called “mystery candidate” talks about her political mentor, brother-in-law LaMar Lemmons (who was present), about her reasons for wanting to serve and about media behavior this week — with particular derision for Fox 2 News.
“There should be more people like me actually at the table, instead of all these political people who are corrupt and not helping the people,” says the 52-year-old single mother of two in her extensive MT interview Saturday. “I want to be for the people.”
“There needs to be somebody like me stating how a real person is struggling, trying to make ends meet. . . .
“I want people to have clean and affordable water, no one should be able to have their water shut off. You know, that’s a right, you should have a right to water.”
The Democratic incumbent who’s bumped is freshman Sen. David Knezez of Dearborn Heights, a former Marine seargent who served two duty tours in Iraq. He won his seat in 2014 after a two-year state House term.
Alexander sounds bemused by this week’s flurry of news media and social attention. “They even have a Facebook [meme] now like ‘Who is Betty Jean Alexander?’” she says, apparently referring to this Twitter hashtag.
“After I won on Tuesday, Wednesday, I’m sitting at work and all of a sudden my phone is blowing up — calls, texts, emails coming through. . . .
“Someone even came yesterday evening, and I saw their little badges. They had a camera, and I was like I’m not going to the door. . . . Then they went to the neighbors. I watched them do a little circle, they went to that neighbor, they went to there, and I’m like, ‘It’s not that serious, people.'”
She’s especially annoyed by Fox 2 reporter Hillary Goldston, hired by the local station last September. The candidate describes contacts for this Friday newscast coverage:
“Fox 2 [has] been coming to my house, going to the neighbor’s house, asking have they seen me, do I live here?
“What really bothered me was Friday. I was at work and I got a text from [Goldston] and she tells me can we have a quick interview? I text her back I said I’m at work, I cannot get these type of interruptions at work and to refer all her questions to [LaMar].
“Then I get another one — ‘Can I get a quick sound bite?’ Again: ‘Unfortunately I’m at work, I cannot do this.’
“Then about 30 to 45 minutes later, my daughter calls me and says: ‘Fox 2 is outside! Some lady wearing a yellow dress.’
“So I text [the reporter] back: ‘Are you at my house?’ And she says ‘Yes.’ I say: ‘You knew 30-45 minutes ago I was not home.’ And she knew I wasn’t home. . . . And then I get home and I see [her story on] the news and she’s knocking, ‘Betty Alexander are you home, Betty Alexander are you home?’ And she knew I wasn’t home! And that was just so irritating.”
Ikonomova’s scoop, with a Q&A-style excerpts on eight topics, is worth seeing in full.
— Alan Stamm
A Primary Puzzle: Who Is Betty Jean Alexander, Stealth State Senate Nominee?, Aug. 8