With no formal political background, a Canton man who serves as a pastor in Hartland is hoping to capitalize on an upcoming vacant seat in the U.S. House of Representative, currently held by Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Livonia).
Pastor of Hartland's , the Rev. Drexel Morton, 60, of Canton will enter the race as a Republican write-in candidate, seeking the seat that will be vacated by Rep. . McCotter announced in June that he was for re-election after enough valid signatures to be listed as the incumbent on the ballot.
Making the decision to run was something Morton says he has been considering for months due to his belief that the country is "divided like never before" and needs people who are willing to work across party lines to make decisions and get work done.
"The legislative bodies are deadlocked right now and we need to be able to be conciliated," he said. "I think going back to that vision of what the Unites States was when I was a young man, where people could have opposing positions during the day and then they were friends as night."
Morton says it's his position as a theologian that could help overcome those barriers.
Morton, who served as a pastor in the Plymouth-Canton area for more than 20 years and has been in Hartland for 18 months, says he isn’t the typical politician.
“I think that the thing that I’ll bring differently to the floor is again a reminder that we need to compromise,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with compromise. Compromise and cooperation is what made our country great.”
There are currently five other candidates for the open seat. Syed Taj, a Canton Township board member, William F. Roberts, a political activist, Kerry Bentivolio, a war veteran, reindeer farmer and teacher, and Nancy Cassis of Novi, who is running as a write-in candidate.
Raised in the Virginia area, Morton says he grew up in shadow of Washington, D.C. and always knew he would feel a political call to service, he just never knew how or when. Starting off in business, Morton eventually received his Masters of Divinity from the Lutheran School in Gettysburg and says it’s the years of experience counseling people from all walks of life that make him a viable candidate.
“I’ve been acutely involved in suffering, so I approach everything from the standpoint of, what’s good for humanity,” he said.
A husband and father of four, Morton and his wife have been married for 35 years.
Morton enters the race with the support of his family as well as his parish, and Morton says he doesn’t have plans to leave the Hartland church if wins the election. Instead, he will split his time between home and Washington to remain close to the people he is serving.
Kathleen Waligura, the president of the All Saints congregation says she is delighted that Morton, a man she says has great integrity and compassion, decided to join the race.
"Though his formal political experience may be limited, I can assure you that Drex’s political skills have been finely honed by many years in the pastorate," Waligura wrote in an email to Hartland Patch. "As he has in his long and distinguished church career, Drex will bring humility and a sense of citizen servanthood to the public arena that we see all too rarely and I know his will be one of the first sets of hands reaching across the ever widening aisle to work with those of differing views."
With four adult children who are or will soon be in the workforce, and faced with reports that the nation may be entering another recession, Morton says his main focus will be the economy. He is also focused on helping to restore Michigan to the “industrial powerhouse” it once was.
Technological diversification and focusing on new industries such as car batteries that are now being made in Michigan are just some of his ideas to help the economy and bring jobs back to the area.
“I don’t have all the answers,” he said. “I just want to see us rebound.”
After making the decision to announce his candidacy, Morton admits that some of the people he told were shocked, but he believes more people need to become “citizen politicians” and hopes voters who are looking for a change and "not business as usual" will give him a chance.
Morton also says he understands that some voters may have question regarding his religious background but says they will just have to get to know him as a person and is excited for the possibilities of the election.
Hoping to a have a website up by next week, Morton plans to do most of his campaign by word of mouth. Morton can be reached at Pastordrex@yahoo.com.
Correction: This story has been updated on July 2 to reflect that Loren Bennett of Canton no longer is an active write-in candidate. Bennett suspended his write-in campaign in June to endorse Nancy Cassis.