Without a doubt, the race for mayor of Detroit is about to get real. When Mike Duggan won — and not just won a write-in campaign but also came in first — many in Detroit were stunned. Duggan clearly outspent the competition.
The city council incumbents — who opened the door for the Snyder administration — were reelected. Any person with a family name or who has held office previously coasted to victory.
Overall, the primary results were a disappointment. It is clear the old mechanisms, many decimated by emergency management and political gutting, are not working. The institutions that have traditionally guaranteed votes — the Black churches, unions — are not a sure thing anymore.
Their candidate Benny Napoleon pulled through in what must have been a disappointing finish. One doesn’t get the sense that these mechanisms work like they used to.
But one mechanism still works — cold hard cash. That appears to be the real difference in this primary.
Fluctuating demographics may have also had some influence — loss of the Black middle class and gain of newbies in search of authenticity and the urban experience.
Fact is, at 16.9 percent, Detroiters just didn’t vote.
But they are not totally wrong in that fatigue from the economy, horrendous city services, the effect of emergency management and bankruptcy filing can be overwhelming. Their non-vote in essence was a vote.
But Detroit needs you in November.
This election was not about change. Too many recognizable names for that. This primary was about money.
Detroit got the same old candidates and ones backed by the same names who have floated around Detroit working to shape the issues we care (or don’t care about) for years —Roger Penske, the Detroit Regional Chamber.
This isn’t change.
November is critical for determining the future of Detroit. It is an opportunity to strengthen old institutions, get out the vote and offer support to candidates. It also provides an opportunity to build new political machines and bolster organizations capable of fieldwork and connection to grassroots people.
Detroit candidates must create new methods of funding and supporting campaigns. To vote for the ones with the most money undercuts the issues everyday citizens care the most about and leaves the city where it has been — taking up issues people with the most money find beneficial to them.
Most importantly, we need candidates with a strong platform who can develop an agenda that will resonate with voters, inspiring them to make the necessary sacrifices to vote.
We need a strong mayor who can check the role of emergency manager. As Krystal Crittendon pointed out in the last week of her campaign, the mayor can ask the federal bankruptcy judge to remove Orr, and the next mayor should.
Last weekend, EM Orr called Detroiters “dumb, lazy, happy and rich.”
Lawyers don’t typically refer to their clients in this manner, but it is evident Orr’s client is Gov. Snyder, not the citizens of Detroit. Orr’s comments are horrifying in their arrogance, ignorance and overall lack of context.
Yet, we believe his comments reflect the Snyder administration’s tone about the city. This is the same group that builds a $400 million hockey stadium financed by people who mostly live in poverty. Sixty percent of Detroit’s children live under the poverty line, but hockey is the priority.
Detroit, we need a street fight this November.