With the 2012 presidential race barely behind us, Detroit is entering another dizzying election season. The list of mayoral hopefuls grew Monday afternoon when State Rep. Fred Durhal (D-Detroit) announced his candidacy for Mayor of Detroit Monday afternoon at a church on the city’s west side.
During his address, Durhal promised approximately 100 people in attendance that he would be a people’s mayor and would cultivate relationships with city council members as well as state and regional leaders.
In his announcement speech, Durhal repeatedly referred to his time serving as an assistant to former Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young and took jabs at the city’s current mayor Dave Bing and prospective mayoral candidate, former Detroit Medical Center CEO, Mike Duggan.
Durhal painted Duggan as out-of-touch and pitched Bing as a poor leader. The second-term state rep. said he would run the city as Young did during his 8-year tenure and demand “excellence” from city leadership.
Despite projections that his campaign will be grossly out funded, Durhal said he plans to win. “Detroit ain’t for sale,” he told his supporters in his bid speech, asserting that without people’s support “you could spend a million dollars and lose the election.”
Duggan, who has all but officially announced his candidacy, has reportedly set up an exploratory committee to research whether he should run for mayor. Duggan, if he runs, would present a formidable candidate in terms of campaign spending, according to political analysts.
Durhal in his speech said he would not be intimidated by deep-pocketed candidates such as Duggan. “I’m your mayor. I don’t need an exploratory committee. I don’t need to figure out between now and Dec. 31st what I’m gonna do,” he said, promising to “straighten out the mess in Detroit.”
Durhal distinguished his leadership style from Bings, blasting the Mayor for a high turnover rate in his administration. “We’re going to have one police chief, not five,” Durhal said. “We’re going to have one staff, not 56 people moving in and out interchangeably. I will pick the right people.”
Bing faces a growing list of appointees who have been fired, demoted or quit during his three-year tenure. Durhal said he would cultivate a better relationship with city council members than Bing has. “My relationship with city council is going to be real good. I won’t run any game on them, they won’t run any game on me.” He said, adding that he would not float any proposals without first securing at least six supporting votes from the council.
“Coleman Young taught us there are only six members of city council,” Durhal said adding that poor leadership is responsible for the poor living conditions of residents.”
At various points in his speech, Durhal repeatedly referred to the Coleman Young era and said he would use the former mayor as his model for leadership. “Coleman Alexander Young was the first African American mayor in the city’s history and I would take bets to say he was the best the city has ever had,” he said, touting Young’s “commitment to excellent”. “Somewhere along the line we’ve gotten away from that message and the city doesn’t work like it should,” he said.
How would a Mayor Durhal deal with the current situation in city call? The career politician said he would work to “soften” governor Rick Snyder and State Treasurer Andy Dillon to release the $30 million in funds withheld due to failure to meet restructuring benchmarks.
“I have an excellent relationship with Snyder. One thing we always do is talk straight with each other,” he said. “We may not have met all the conditions but you can’t let people stave to death. I think the governor needs to be a little more flexible.”