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Detroit Mayoral Candidates Square-off in early Debate

By Karen Hudson Samuels/Tell Us Detroit

DETROIT, MI (Tell Us Det) - Mayoral candidates pitched their solutions to the challenges facing the city in a debate-style forum to over 350 members of the Booker T. Washington Business Association who gathered Tuesday for the organization’s annual conference.

Candidate remedies ranged from offering vacant store fronts to aspiring entrepreneurs to attract small business, to creating a 4% “Hero’s Tax” on entertainment to pay for new public safety vehicles and personnel.

The mayoral hopefuls were questioned by a media panel of reporters; in attendance were Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, former State Rep Lisa Howze, State Rep Fred Durhal and Tom Barrow.

On the question of what it would mean to be Mayor under an Emergency Manager, Mike Duggan said “There is no role for a Mayor under an Emergency Manager” but added he would work with Kevyn Orr and integrate a detailed turnaround plan, under development, in his dealings with the EFM.

Tom Barrow’s concern was having an EFM with access to the city’s asset. Then he took a veiled shot at Duggan, “All this “turnaround business is a fake, anyone with $60 million dollars can turn around anything.” Duggan rebuked Barrow, saying the $60 million bailout occurred under a different administration and that he was brought in because the money had been blown away. He added that you don’t “denigrate” an opponent without the facts, the audience applauded.

Durhal said has been fighting against the emergency manager law in the legislature but has met with Kevyn Orr and pointed out that the reality is whoever is mayor will have to work with EM. “We have to stop the bleeding” he said referring to the city’s $380 million deficit, and “balance this budget according to the law.”

What will the candidates do about public safety and the revolving door of Detroit’s Police Chiefs, five in the last six years along with declining moral among officers?

Benny Napoleon, a former Detroit Police Chief, would put a police officer within every square mile of the city; they would help the community address neighborhood concerns like graffiti or blight. Mike Duggan said give Detroit’s new Police Chief, James Craig, and a chance to succeed and begin to instill respect within in the police ranks.

“We have to change everything about the department “said Tom Barrow blasting the sex for promotion culture. His 4% hero’s tax on entertainment Barrow said would pay for 500 police officers, 200s fire firefighters and 18 new EMS rigs and the personnel to run them.

State Representative Fred Durhal would “flood the streets with one man instead of two man patrol cars” and end the 12 hour shift. Revamping the 911 system to remove resident uncertainty about police showing was Representative Lisa Howze’s answer.

What kind of leadership style would the candidates bring to the Mayor’s Office? It ranges from a participatory leadership approach staked out by Benny Napoleon, to “being amongst the people” Barrow’s leadership style. Durhal said he is a coalition builder, something learned in the legislature and from former Mayor Coleman Young and Howze cast herself as a visionary leader and who would encourage trust and respect. The candidates meet next in debate a on May 30th during the Mackinac Policy Conference.




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