Notwithstanding our anticipated media endorsements, the most important endorsements will be the ones that voters make on Election Day.
Because of the political turmoil in the last two years it’s clear to anyone who’s been an avid observer of the political climate here that the city of Detroit is on trial. The city is fighting for its life, just like other major cities, and the temperature is currently unbearable for residents and those who have invested here unless there is a new cooler in the room.
Nov. 3 will show whether this city is ready to make the necessary changes needed to move local government operations forward, while maintaining the interests of the residents and businesses that have a stake in this city.
Some of the polls I’ve observed recently have already placed candidates like John Bennett, Alberta Tinsley-Talabi, Shelley Foy, Fred Elliot Hall and others outside the margin of win. The winning candidates, we are told, are the likes of Gary Brown, Brenda Jones, Charles Pugh, Saunteel Jenkins and Lisa Howze.
While it is plausible and refreshing to note that the array of candidates running come from very impressive backgrounds, what is missing in this political puzzle is the impression that voters have of each of the candidates seeking a seat on Detroit’s biggest civic institution – the Detroit City Council.
Detroit’s electorate is notorious for doing the unpredictable. Because of that, I have been very hesitant to call out names of candidates expected to win on a number of talk shows.
I’ve maintained from the genesis of the campaign that the election is fair game for all 18 candidates, because some of the candidates who made the cut after the primary were not expected in the race for the general election, if media or polling standards are supposed to be barometer.
To be fair to all the candidates who’ve invested their own resources to be in this race, we (the media) ought to allow voters to assess them based on their level of service and commitment to life and death issues, and not on own terms.
We run the risk of interrupting the democratic process, without letting voters decide the election based on the more substantive issues like neighborhood revitalization, business development and the global economy, better city services, etc.
If the neighborhoods in the city don’t come back, families won’t move into Detroit.
If the climate in the city is not friendly to business development – including small businesses – we can forget about Detroit becoming the Mecca of the Midwest.
If city council candidates don’t have an inkling of geo-political systems and globalization and cannot locate China, India or Nigeria on the map, or lack an understanding of the current economic interests of these nations – significant players in the current global economy – then rule out Detroit as an international city.
If residents are not provided better city services, they are more likely to move out in search of better services in other places where their tax dollars can afford it.
These are just some of the issues that Detroit faces. These issues must be tackled by an independent-minded charter commission, an effective city council and a determined mayor. Detroit cannot settle for less.
But that change will only take place by way of an informed electorate willing to think for itself. An informed electorate will lead to a thriving city that knows the difference between candidates throwing dust in their eyes and those truly called to public service.
Watch Bankole Thompson’s weekly show, “Center Stage,” on WADL-TV38 Saturdays at 1 p.m. He is the host of “Climate Change: Is Detroit Open For Business?” — a weekly roundtable discussion about business in Detroit on WDET-101.9 FM, Detroit Public Radio, Wednesdays at noon. E-mail him at email@example.com.