With Detroit’s primary election less than two weeks away, the race for mayor is being watched with great interest. The Tuesday, Aug. 3 election-day race, according to City filing records, will feature 14 individuals competing for Detroit’s top elected office, including incumbent Mayor Mike Duggan, Anthony Adams, Tom Barrow, Articia Bomer, Kiawana Brown, Curtis Greene, Myya Jones, Jasahn Larsosa, Charleta McInnis, Emanuel Shaw, Danetta Simpson, Art Tyus, Cheryl Webb, and D. Etta Wilcoxon.
The Michigan Chronicle’s Editorial Board recently held a virtual interview with the three most presumptive individuals vying for the office of mayor: Duggan, Adams, and Barrow. Based on the virtual interaction with the three, the Michigan Chronicle emphatically endorses incumbent Mike Duggan as he seeks his third consecutive term as mayor of Detroit. He took office in January of 2014.
Duggan began his stint as mayor when the city of Detroit was locked in the grips of an emergency manager, who was overseeing the largest municipal bankruptcy filed in American history. When Duggan ultimately took control of running the city, his agenda included lighting the city with more than 60,000 LED street lights, picking up trash and big bulk items with regularity, establishing reliable public transportation, improving police and fire departments’ response time, and tearing down abandoned structures or renovating them when feasible.
Attracting businesses to Detroit and advocating for Detroiters to be hired have been vital to the mayor. Companies with historical ties to Detroit, including top automakers Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler), have made strong commitments and investments to maintain a presence in the Motor City, complete with concentrated efforts to hire Detroiters. Amazon has joined the club, as the corporation is constructing a $400 million giant distribution center on the former Michigan State Fairgrounds. When completed next year, Amazon will hire at least 1,200 workers. The city will provide Amazon with lists of qualified Detroiters to fill positions.
Understanding the gravity of providing good-paying jobs for Detroiters, Duggan appointed native Detroiter Nichole Sherard-Freeman, an African American woman, to his administration as the City’s Group Executive of Jobs, Economy, and Detroit at Work.
“The incredible success of Detroit at Work under Nicole’s leadership has become our most effective selling point from an economic development standpoint,” Duggan said in a written statement. “Major corporations are looking at Detroit now as a great place to locate based on the strength of our workforce and our ability to produce a list of outstanding job candidates.”
The mayor is proud of his commitment to help small businesses – especially small Black businesses, flourish. One example is Motor City Match.
“Motor City Match is helping to create a new generation of entrepreneurs in our city,” said Mayor Duggan. “I’m most proud of the fact that the vast majority of these businesses are located in neighborhoods outside of the downtown and midtown core and are owned by entrepreneurs of color. The program is doing exactly what we want it to do.”
The mayor remains committed to empowering the city’s youth. Since 2015, Duggan, through his Grow Detroit’s Young Talent Program (GDYT) and in partnership with employers and funding partners, has implemented summer jobs for young people across the city between 14 and 24 years of age. GDYT has reached a milestone of 50,000 jobs launched since its inception, including 8,048 summer work experiences this year alone.
Detroit has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic but has received national attention for its decisive handling of the deadly virus since March 2020. Working in close association with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive for Michigan, Mayor Duggan and Denise Fair, Detroit’s Chief Public Health Officer, are credited with facilitating strategies to keep Detroiters as safe as humanly possible in the teeth of a historic pandemic. Khaldun and Fair are both African Americans.
When the COVID-19 vaccine was made available in December of 2020, Detroit was nationally touted for setting up mass vaccination centers, such as TCF and Ford Field. Other innovative locations soon followed. Detroit was one of the first cities in America to make the vaccine available to residents as young as 16 years old.
While the percentage of Detroiters getting vaccinated is about 38.1%, compared to 68% statewide, Duggan remains resolute to drive up the number of Detroiters being vaccinated.
“Right now, and for a while now, there’s been no place in the country that’s been easier to get vaccinated than in Detroit,” Duggan told the Chronicle’s Editorial Board. “We are continuing to do what we’ve been doing, which is giving Detroiters vital information and facts and encouraging people to talk with their loved ones about getting vaccinated.”
While the mayor is optimistic about Detroit’s future, violent crime remains a major problem on his watch. With the FBI consistently placing Detroit at the top or near the top of the list for big American cities for violent crime, the mayor must find a way to cut down violent crime statistics. Many applaud Duggan’s recent appointment of native Detroiter James White as interim chief of police, following former Chief James Craig’s retirement in June. The mayor vows to continue investing in law enforcement efforts in Detroit, with more community police officers to build trust in neighborhoods across the city and using technology to combat crime. However, the mayor vehemently opposes facial recognition technology for surveillance purposes.
Mayoral candidate Barrow told the Chronicle’s Editorial Board of his own approach to bring down violent crime in Detroit, which includes re-imagining policing, creating and utilizing mental health officers and social workers at every precinct, and taking politics out of the police department. Barrow, who describes himself as a “real and hardcore Detroiter,” says he feels what Detroiters are feeling better than any of the other candidates for mayor. The longtime CPA and advocate for election changes in municipal settings describe his platform as transparency, so Detroiters know that they have a real Detroiter fighting for them. Barrow, whose run for mayor in this election is his fifth, talked about re-establishing the self-esteem of Detroiters, bringing more young people into city government, and stopping blight caused by illegal dumping.
Mayoral candidate Anthony Adams, an attorney, former assistant to Mayor Coleman A. Young, and deputy mayor to Kwame Kilpatrick, accuses the current mayor of failing to address crime in Detroit. Adams told the Chronicle’s Editorial Board that he would provide Detroiters with lifestyle changes away from crime and create community intervention programs with mental health professionals in communities. He vows to add more resources, including income support, to help young Detroiters transform their lives.
“We got to be much more aggressive in going out and outreaching our young men and young women and engage them in programs designed to assist them in changing their lives, changing their focus, Adams said. “We got to have a mayor who speaks to those issues because when you’re not speaking to the population of people who live in the community and when you can’t make the connection between what their plight is and what your plight is, then you’re not going to be in a position to change the culture of what goes on in the city of Detroit. There has to be a cultural connection between what you say and what you do.”
Adams also told the Editorial Board that he’s “pro-Black business.”
“Existing businesses (in the city) are not getting the level of support they need in order to expand,” Adams said. “We should be spending a lot more money in helping to encourage and stabilize the 38,000 small businesses in the city of Detroit that have never got one dime or anything from the city of Detroit.”
Based on Adams’ history and experience in the city across broad sectors, the Chronicle feels he is an impressive candidate with a sound platform for Detroit. However, the Chronicle doesn’t believe it’s enough compared to Duggan’s experience and proven track record of moving the city forward in challenging times. And the challenges won’t get easier as Duggan shepherd Detroiters through the present pandemic and the violent crime increase. Duggan must find ways to increase the city’s tax base, assure Detroiters have access to economic opportunities and continue to create affordable housing and the overall beautification of all city neighborhoods.
The Chronicle believes that Duggan can and will lead the city and its citizens that are overwhelmingly Black through the tough times ahead. We feel that he has assembled an administration that is not only diverse in ethnicity and gender but is talented and committed to moving the city forward in the face of challenging times. Of the mayor’s top fifteen administration positions, ten are held by African American men and women. Of the five women on his top administration team, three are Black.
The Michigan Chronicle is endorsing Mayor Mike Duggan to serve a third term as the city’s top elected official, with a mandate to continue the city’s success stories but fix the glaring problems Detroiters face daily.