Detroit Mayor Headed to November Showdown
By Katrease Stafford
Incumbent Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and challenger state Sen. Coleman Young II will head for a showdown in November after both candidates garnered an overwhelming majority of votes in the Tuesday primary, knocking six other mayoral hopefuls out of the race.
With 99% of the precincts reporting at 11:30 p.m., Duggan had 43,488 votes or 67% of the total votes cast, compared to Young's 17,155 votes, or 27%. City of Detroit Elections Director Daniel Baxter reported that by 5 p.m., there was about an 11% voter turnout, including absentee ballots. But by 11:30, the turnout registered at 13.8%, Baxter said.
Duggan, speaking to hundreds of supporters at an election party at the St. Regis Hotel, called the primary a win for his campaign.
"Thank you, Detroit. I saw the numbers come in, and it was overwhelming, This is a hard job, and every place I go in the city, I'm greeted with warmth and kindness, but you don't know how people feel until those votes come in. ... We ran an old-fashioned grassroots campaign, and we won it in the streets. City government can't do this alone. We need all Detroiters for this city's comeback. We've got to get Detroiters back to work."
But Duggan cautioned his supporters not to take the results for granted, saying there's much more work to do.
"While the election results are strong ... we're not taking anything for granted," Duggan said. "We're going after every single vote. This fall I'm going to talk to the people of Detroit. ... You're not going to hear me attack my opponent, I'm not going to do it."
Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon kicked off Duggan's election night party.
"It's the first step in continuing the great progress that this city is making," Napoleon said.
Meanwhile, Young's campaign was watching early returns at the DoubleTree by Hilton-Fort Shelby Hotel and began celebrating when it became clear that he would go on to November.
While addressing supporters, Young said coming in second place felt "phenomenal."
"We have worked, we have sweat, we have bled, we have fought and now we are here," Young said. "We are standing on the shoulders of our ancestors, of our grandparents, our parents ... as we take this city back for the people, no more will we have billions of dollars flowing through downtown and our children don't' have recreation centers."
Young, with supporters cheering in the background, called for a future debate with Duggan.
"I'll debate him in the outhouse, I'll debate him in the penthouse," Young said. "I'll debate him in his own damn house. We've got the power of the people on our side."
Although he came in second, Young's campaign manager, Adolph Mongo, called tonight a victory and said he believes he'll cruise to victory in November.
"We're winning," Mongo said. "He raised almost $2 million, spent $1.2 million and this is all he got? (Duggan) shot his best shot. ... We're going to beat him. We feel good. Tonight is a victory."
Duggan and Young emerged out of a field of eight mayoral hopefuls. The next closest vote getters were write-in candidates at 1,226 votes, accounting for 2% of the vote.
The six hopefuls who were decisively edged out of the general election -- Danetta Simpson, Donna Marie Pitts, Curtis Christopher Greene, Edward Dean, Angelo Brown and Articia Bomer -- garnered less than 1% of the vote as of about 9:35 p.m. Tuesday.
Ahead of the primary, both Duggan and Young detailed their plans for the city in interviews with the Free Press, outlining an aggressive future for Detroit, which is continuing to rebound four years after it declared bankruptcy.
Analysts expect a competitive November election that will focus on how to keep moving forward in a post-bankruptcy city that has seen a resurgence downtown but staggered success in its neighborhoods.
Duggan says now that he's been able to restore basic city services to residents, he wants to turn his focus to creating more opportunities for Detroiters and continue building upon momentum he believes he's started to improve the city's neighborhoods. In his first term, Duggan has restored routine trash pickup, relaunched street sweeping after a several-year hiatus and pushed forward the installation of 65,000 new LED streetlights across the city, making it the first in the country to have all light-emitting diode (LED) streetlights.
Duggan, who announced his plans for re-election Feb. 4, has acknowledged there's much more to be done in fixing the city, and he's announced several plans aimed at investing in neighborhoods -- such as an $11.7-million effort to renovate 40 neighborhood parks.
But a lack of significant change in some of the city's most impoverished neighborhoods is a frequent criticism of Duggan and past Detroit mayors.
Young has publicly criticized his opponent, accusing him of leaving the city's poorer residents behind amid an outpour of reinvestment in downtown and the booming Midtown areas.
Young said, if elected, he plans to deal specifically with what he believes are systemic decisions to ignore the city's pervading poverty issue. According to 2015 Census data, which is the most recent, Detroit's poverty rate rests at nearly 40%. Young has said that the city's overwhelmingly African-American population has been hit the hardest.
"You cannot talk about the American political story and race not be a part of it," Young previously said. "It absolutely is a factor in this."
And while Duggan has rebuffed the narrative of two Detroits -- one involving the affluent parts of the city and the other impacting the city's poor --Young has used it heavily in his campaign.
But Duggan believes the city is inclusive of all of its residents.
"Just come down here Saturday at 3 p.m. and take a picture of a random place, and I think you'll see we have an area that is welcoming to everybody," Duggan previously told the Free Press.
When asked again Tuesday night by the Free Press about the two Detroits narrative that's being pushed by the Young campaign, Duggan said he doesn't want to talk about it again.
"I don't know what you are looking at," Duggan said. "The margins you are seeing tonight are historic, it appears we carried every precinct. So again, I really don't want to talk about this narrative anymore, it's a fiction coming from you. It really is."
At his election party, Duggan said if re-elected, he's planning to work more to spread development throughout the city's neighborhoods.
"(Re-development) started in downtown and Midtown, but it's radiating out," Duggan said. "We're seeing signs of it in Hubbard Farms and Russell Woods, we're going to keep pushing. We're not going to stop until we accomplish it. That's what we're going to try to do for the next four years."
Detroit 910 AM host and longtime political analyst Steve Hood told the Free Press on Tuesday evening that while a number of issues will be at play in the general election, he believes the narrative of race and how it impacts the city will surface.
"Though the race needs to be about who has the best plan ... race will be a factor," Hood said. "Duggan has to stay above that, and he has to prove he's the mayor of other people. He also has to frame and define Coleman Young as a lot of rhetoric with little reality. ... But if Coleman gets over 38% of the vote tonight, that's a victory for him."
Some pundits say Young has an uphill battle against Duggan, who has obtained several key endorsements, including ones from the Metro Detroit AFL-CIO and the Black Slate Political Action Committee. As of July 23, Duggan had raised more than $1.6 million, according to campaign finance reports, compared with just more than $22,000 raised by Young's camp. According to the reports, Duggan has a balance of more than $655,000 left to spend, compared with a nearly $1,600 balance for Young.
But Young said he's not deterred and that the real race begins after the primary.
Young supporter Brenda Hill said the fact that he's advancing speaks to the fact that he's gaining traction among Detroiters.
"I'm feeling so elated," Hill said. "Mike Duggan does not care that our babies are dying. When I saw Coleman announce he was running, I knew he was the hope of Detroit."
Duggan supporter Mary Booker said she believes he has Detroiters best interest at heart.
"I like the changes he's made since he's been in office," Booker said. "He deserves another four years."
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