(WXYZ) — Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig officially announced his run for Michigan governor on Tuesday morning.
Surrounded by protestors from Detroit Will Breathe, Craig quickly came to the podium and said he was running before leaving the area.
"I just have one thing to say, I'm running for governor of the State of Michigan," he said.
He's one of several candidates seeking the Republican nomination in next year's race to challenge Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
In an interview with 7 Action News' Ross Jones, he talked about how he would govern the state through the pandemic.
While he was chief, Craig instituted mask mandates throughout the Detroit Police Department and was one of the first people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Recently, he has changed his tune and said mask mandates aren't the way to go, even in schools.
"I think it should be left up to the parents. the parents are the stakeholders. If the parent says yes, I want my child in school, but I want my child to wear a mask, that's their choice," Craig said.
"Isn't every child in that classroom, aren't they a stakeholder? If you aren't wearing a mask, but I don't want COVID-19, what if you pass it on to me?" Jones asked.
"Well, we shouldn't demonize those who decided and make a decision not to be vaccinated," Craig responded.
Dave Dulio, a political science professor at Oakland University, said he believes Craig is a strong candidate and the likely front-runner on the Republican ticket.
"Because of his name recognition, some intangibles, but there are other candidates," Dulio said.
But, he said Craig brings the promise of "law and order" that will resonate with many Republican voters.
We also spoke with Craig about his record as chief, where he has a number of accomplishments, from vastly improved 911 response times to huge reductions in property crime.
However, violent crimes were a mixed bag. Between 203 and 2020, carjackings and robberies were down big, rapes fell slightly, homicides and non-fatal shootings were flat, and aggravated assaults were up significantly. Overall, violent crime was slightly higher in 2020 than when Craig arrived.
"If you think it's all on the reliance of the police department to reduce crime when violent suspects are being released back into our community, there are no consequences. That drives crime," he said.