Detroiters have elected their first white mayor in nearly 40 years.
Mike Duggan, most recently the head of the Detroit Medical Center, defeated Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon 55% to 45%. Napoleon is African American. The city is 82% black.
Duggan had been dogged by complaints that he was an outsider, having not lived within the city limits for years.
But he enjoyed support from as varied sources as Quicken Loans CEO Dan Gilbert, who’s led the movement to reinvest in downtown Detroit, and the head of a local Black Panther chapter. Duggan’s principal accomplishment was turning around the finances of the medical center, which had at one point flirted with its own bankruptcy.
Napoleon, meanwhile, was seen as tainted by the shortcomings of recent city administrations — he was the city’s police chief from 1998 to 2001 — and an underwhelming performance as sheriff.
It’s not exactly clear what powers Duggan will have when he takes office as the city, which declared bankruptcy in July, is still controlled by an emergency manager. The terms of the bankruptcy remain to be worked out.
Duggan, though, is likely to attempt to wrest away some of that control.
Free Press columnist Stephen Henderson says Duggan possesses an “out-sized view of the mayoral job — mindful in some ways of 1950s Chicago.”
With just two precincts left to report, turnout clocked in at 25.38%, compared with 22.68% in 2009 and 32.93% in 2001.
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