Last week we saw the spirit and intent behind the Detroit City Charter. In 2009, the charter process was an important one to city residents.
Sick of an unresponsive council, a mayor who wasn’t from the city and the Kilpatrick administration, Detroiters voted to revise the city’s charter.
The Charter is the supreme law of the city, similar to the state or U.S. constitution, in that it outlines the powers and responsibilities of city government.
The Charter is also the guide for the City Clerk and election process. It mandates certain city functions and departments.
The Charter Commission, with significant public input, is an elected body made up of nine members who guide the revision process of the city’s Charter.
There were several important changes in the 2012 Charter. Detroiters wanted council by district to increase accountability in elected officials; they were concerned with allocation and abuse of power and residency.
Detroiters — always sensitive to “carpetbaggers” and outsiders — wanted accountable elected representation from the community.
Those seeking to represent a majority Black city should understand the experience of those they seek to represent.
Voters deliberately added provisions outlining the rules of residency.
Voters did not want people moving into the city to run for office without enough time spent to understand the city’s unique issues.
When Mike Duggan was removed from the ballot, we saw the spirit of the Charter at work.
It may not have been a perfect process, but it was perfect in that the intent of the people was upheld.
Ironically, Duggan insisted the Charter was poorly written.
And the media seems to be backing him up on this by insisting that he filed two weeks early rather than noting he had not met Charter requirements at the time he filed.
No outlet noted that the turnaround candidate shouldn’t have missed a detail as important as this.
At the end of the day, Duggan moved to Detroit to run for office and the City Charter prevented that. There is justice in that.
If the Charter was poorly written, as a resident, he could have had some insight in the process or even have run for Charter Commission.
This is what democracy looks like.
This exercise in democracy, for a city under emergency management, felt like a real people’s victory.
As a last ditch diss to the city, in what could only be interpreted as a slight, Duggan says, “They are going to have a hard time getting the emergency manager out … I could have successfully moved the EM out.”
Well, somehow, Detroit will have to get along without Duggan. In the meantime, his run will go down as one of the biggest campaign flops ever.
“They” will find a way. Until then, maybe Detroit will find a leader that understands “we” instead.