The upcoming primary should have been a breeze for Detroit 36th District Court Judge Rudy Serra. A distinguished lawyer for more than 20 years, Gov. Jennifer Granholm appointed him in 2004. His election bid has been endorsed by Granholm and Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, not to mention 34 fellow judges, plus dozens of other pols, citizens and groups. To top it all off, he has a snappy slogan: "Do your duty keep judge Rudy."
But in a city not exactly known for embracing its homosexual community, he's also openly gay. And although 14 other Detroit district court judges are up for re-election, Serra is the only one facing opposition. Lots of it. In a primary race that's normally easy on incumbents, Serra faces five challengers. The two top vote-getters in the Aug. 8 primary will advance to November's general election ballot.
This spate of candidates seems a wee bit fishy to some, including Jeffrey Montgomery, head of the Detroit GLBT activist group the Triangle Foundation.
"We've heard there are people connected with the court that feel they need to oppose him because he's openly gay," Montgomery says.
That's certainly the case with Brenda Sanders, the only one of Serra's five opponents we could reach by press time. Sanders, who says she's been a lawyer for 18 years, readily admits her problem with Serra is his sexual orientation.
"I have some personal issues with Judge Serra," she told News Hits. "I'm a Christian, and he promotes homosexuality from the bench. Otherwise, I think he's a pretty good judge."
The Triangle Foundation is hosting a fundraiser for Serra at 6 p.m., Thursday, June 29, at the sushi bar Oslo at 1456 Woodward Ave. in Detroit. (Call 313-963-0300 for more info.)
We were skeptical that Serra really needed the help, but Montgomery convinced us.
"If people go and vote on the quality of the judge, he's going to win easily," he says. "But if the best person for the job always won the election, we wouldn't be under George Bush, would we?"News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]