Macomb County community honors former U.S. Rep. David Bonior 

‘I would watch David Bonior on C-SPAN like a guy watching a football game. I would cheer him on.’

By: - September 10, 2023 9:07 am

Democratic former U.S. Rep. David Bonior of Clinton Twp. | Ken Coleman

Dozens of Macomb County residents and others assembled on Saturday to dedicate a bike path and a newly created sculpture after Democratic former U.S. Rep. David Bonior.

A host of political leaders, including former Michigan Democratic Party chair Mark Brewer as well as former state House members Nick Ciaramitaro, Fred Miller, Paul Gieleghem, all Democrats, attended the event in Clinton Township. So did Julie Matuzak, a Clinton Township trustee, and former member of the Board of State Canvassers, former Macomb County commissioner and Bonior congressional staffer. Carl Marlinga, former Macomb County prosecutor and a 2022 U.S. House candidate, was there, too. 

“You’ve done such a great job with this,” said Bonior, who was born in Detroit in 1945 and represented a portion of Macomb County as a state and federal lawmaker. “You’ve been so progressive and thoughtful with what the township and county needs.” 

The Clinton Township Board of Trustees named the portion of the bike path that runs through Clinton Township after Bonior, with a plaque placed at each end of the designated path.  

Matuzak told the Advance that the honor was fitting for Bonior who was first elected to Congress in 1976 and rose to the No. 3 Democratic House position as whip during the early 1990s and early 2000s. Prior to that, he served in the Michigan House of Representatives beginning in 1973. 


Bonior was also a candidate for Michigan governor in 2002. Then-Attorney General Jennifer Granholm won a Democratic primary that year that included Bonior and former Michigan Gov. Jim Blanchard. Granholm went on to serve two terms as governor.

“It’s really important, a tree that symbolizes the future, things are going to grow,” Matuzak said. “David Bonior really epitomizes working with local communities, figuring out what is important, and building on that, even to a national scene.”

The sculpture is a 30-foot-tall steel tree dedicated to Bonior, a noted environmentalist. The tree symbolizes the over one million pine seedlings. The sculpture, which sits along the Clinton River, was created by Erik and Israel Nordin from Detroit Design. The design, production and installation has been funded through private donations. 

David Burcar of Clinton Township said that he was “an environmental activist before” he became “a political activist. After attending the dedication, Burcar told the Advance that Bonior has inspired him over the years. 

“I would watch David Bonior on C-SPAN like a guy watching a football game. I would cheer him on,” Barcar said about viewing Bonior’s energetic floor speeches and parliamentary efforts on Capitol Hill. 


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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman writes about Southeast Michigan, history and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on Black life in Detroit.