Mayor Mike Duggan has won the August primary election by a hefty margin, guaranteeing he will be one of the top two candidates competing in the November general election. Coleman Young II came in at a rather distant second, pretty much reflecting what the poll numbers were showing leading up to Election Day.
The incumbent mayor’s victory comes as little surprise, even though some of Young’s supporters continued to insist, in the face of consistently flagging poll numbers, that Young’s “million dollar name” combined with perceived weaknesses in Duggan’s first term performance, would be enough to pull out a surprise win in the end.
It didn’t turn out that way.
Admittedly, voter turnout was extremely light throughout the day, despite picture perfect weather. However there were some polling place irregularities reported during the morning by WXYZ Channel 7. Still, city-wide pictures of near-empty polling places staffed by bored poll workers seemed to be the dominating image of the day, rather than any noticeable excitement about how important of a day this was for the city.
But those who did show up made it clear that Duggan is the one they believe will do the best job leading Detroit. Despite Young’s repeated appeal to those Detroiters whom he claimed are disenfranchised and being left out of the progress taking place in their own city, it wasn’t enough to motivate his target audience to get to the polls and support his message with their votes.
It’s also probably fair to say that Young simply wasn’t able to convince enough Detroiters that Duggan is bad for the city, no matter how many times he said it. Duggan lawn signs could be seen popping up all over the city, far more so than signs for Young. Plus Young’s inability to attract any significant amount of campaign contributions, not to mention hardly any endorsements, had to be a major factor. For Duggan to receive the early endorsement of so many of his father’s former staff members, who held a press conference specifically to announce that they would not be following the son, sent a strong message of where things were headed. And then for the Black Slate, the organization that played such a large part in electing the first Coleman A. Young to office, to come out in favor of Duggan, was effectively the nail in a coffin that was already deep underground. Although young was able to gain some traction by pointing to the very real frustration many Detroiters feel about progress not moving fast enough in their neighborhoods, and the underlying fear that their city is being stolen from them, significantly more choose to opt for hope that the changes that they see in and around downtown bodes well for the rest of the city. And not enough believed that Young possessed what it took to deliver them to a brighter day when his message remained so consistently negative.
Now nearing the end of his first term, it’s hard to make a credible argument that Duggan’s Detroit is no better than the Detroit of four years ago. That simply isn’t true. And although some of Duggan’s accomplishments may have been built on what was begun by his predecessors, that’s no crime nor does it negate the part he played in getting things done. Getting the street lights turned back on was a big deal, even if it wasn’t as big and sexy as District Detroit and all the other development occurring in and around downtown. The appearance of new and improved neighborhood parks is something that makes a noticeable difference in a community. The recent announcement of plans to bring back Fitzgerald neighborhood on the city’s northwest side is also worth celebrating as a harbinger of things to come.
JANICE WINFREY GETS THE NOD FOR ANOTHER CHANCE
Despite the debacle of 2016 when her office became the target of widespread criticism for the way in which her office mishandled the 2016 election, Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey has won the primary election by a fairly significant margin, followed by challenger Garlin Gilchrist in second place. Winfrey and Gilchrist will face each other in the November general election.
Winfrey won her first term in 2005 and was credited with cleaning up an office that had been mired in scandal engulfing her predecessor, the late Jackie Curry, which was no mean feat. Nevertheless, despite a poll in May showing her significantly ahead of her nearest challenger, Winfrey was said to be vulnerable and teetering in the same weak position that Curry was in when Winfrey took her spot.
The 2016 race was so close in Michigan that it is easy to understand the frustrations and anger felt by so many Detroiters that theirs was the one Michigan city said to be gumming up the works. Winfrey has pledged to learn from her mistakes, and has taken measures she says should ensure that any similar debacle will not happen again.
Gilchrist waged a hugely successful campaign, especially for someone with so little name recognition. The former Microsoft engineer and community organizer capitalized on his political organizing experience to motivate an enthusiastic following, which is impressive for a relative unknown to accomplish in a race for City Clerk in an off-year election. No doubt the endorsements he received from both major newspapers contributed to his profile and possibly prompted more voters to take a closer look at his impressive qualifications.
AT LARGE: Brenda Jones
Beverly Kindle Walker
DISTRICT 1: James Tate
DISTRICT 2: Roy McCalister
DISTRICT 3: Scott Benson
DISTRICT 4: Andre Spivey
DISTRICT 6: Raquel Castaneda-Lopez
DISTRICT 7: Gabe Leland