Dennis Archer Jr. wasted no time jumping into politics when he asked Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Wayne County Executive Warren Evans their feelings about the stunning results from Super Tuesday.
Mayor Duggan, who had endorsed Democratic candidate Joe Biden, didn’t hide his pleasure with the former vice president’s victorious showing.
“He has the interest of Detroit, the interest of Michigan, the interest of middle- class America in his heart,” said Duggan, as he addressed the sellout crowd of the Michigan Chronicle’s 15th Annual Pancakes and Politics event at the Detroit Athletic Club this morning. “And so, I made a decision to back somebody I admire, and it looks like a large part of the country has come along.”
Evans acknowledged that he endorsed and supported Mike Bloomberg. But he said the bottom-line of the election is that the Democratic nominee gets sent to the White House.
“One thing I guarantee is whoever the nominee, we’re going to the mat for,” Evans said.
Presidential politics gave way to the hot-button issue of the overtaxing of Detroit homeowners and how they should be repaid.
Although Archer queried both Duggan and Evans, the question was clearly directed at the mayor.
Duggan reiterated what he said at last week’s State of the City address, that the money has already been spent.
“I think those are questions we need to be honest about,” Duggan said. “That money was spent years ago, there’s no way to get it back – maybe except a huge property tax increase that would set off another round of foreclosures.”
Duggan did get pushback from at least one person in the audience, when Attorney and Former School Board Member Anthony Adams stepped to the mic.
“I think part of the pushback from the community is what they perceive to be a very dismissive attitude on the part of the administration when addressing the issue,” Adams said.
He added that Mayor Duggan has changed his position on the issue from there’s nothing we can do, to let’s see what we can do.
Mayor Duggan rebutted the notion of his administration being dismissive to Detroiters who were overtaxed. He cited recent legislation to help prevent future overtaxing, as an example of his concern.
However, Duggan suggested the true battle is dealing with home foreclosures in the city.
“The most immediate issue is we need to eliminate the number of foreclosures this year,” Duggan said. “We went from 5,000 to 300 last year, but 300 is still too many.”
Meanwhile, the issue of regional transit– an issue that Evans has championed – drew his ire in the wake of a recent state legislative move that will prevent a transit ballot proposal from being on the November ballot.
“I don’t know where it’s going right now,” Evans said. “Are we really interested in changing the ‘Region?’ Or is ‘Region’ a sexy word we use when we want something?”
“I’m getting sick and tired of people talking about regionalization when they don’t mean it.”
Both Evans and Duggan agreed its essential that Black Detroiters have equal access to business opportunities in the city. They also agree it is equally important to break down institutional barriers that have long precluded blacks from building generational wealth.
When it comes to crime in Detroit, Evans and Duggan had slightly differing approaches to law enforcement.
“Policing generally is a reactive business,” said Evans, a former Wayne County Sheriff. “Policing needs to change to the proactive side.”
Evans added that he wants to see Detroit’s law enforcement agencies to use available crime data to identify the group of serious career criminals. He said tracking that group will lead to a significant drop in crime.
On the other hand, Mayor Duggan would like to add 300 new police officers to the Detroit Police Department, putting more officers on the street. The Mayor acknowledged that violent crime has dropped in the city, but he said it’s still too high.
“The violence rate is nowhere near where it was six years ago, but it’s way too high,” Duggan said.