Detroit — Mayoral candidate Benny Napoleon talked Tuesday about the importance of education and safety, and stressed he knows the challenges Detroit residents face in their day-to-day lives.
Speaking at the Detroit branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People about eight hoursbefore a final televised debate with his opponent Mike Duggan, the Wayne County sheriff and former Detroit police chief said he has the leadership and experience to help turn around the city.
“This election is a defining moment for the city of Detroit. It will probably be who will lead this city for the next few decades,” Napoleon said. “It’s important that you have leadership that has experience with significant issues that Detroit has experienced. Someone who understands the true experience of average everyday experiences in the city of Detroit.”
Napoleon, a native Detroiter, said it was also important to have someone in the mayor’s office who “not only has roots in the city but fruit,” repeating his daughter and grandson live in the city.
Former Detroit Medical Center CEO Duggan lived for many years in Livonia and moved to the Palmer Park neighborhood of Detroit in February 2012 before deciding to run for mayor.
Duggan has raised far more money for his campaign than Napoleon. Since the Aug. 6 primary that Duggan won 52-30 percent over Napoleon, the former longtime deputy Wayne County executive raised about $824,000 compared with slightly more than $175,000 for Napoleon. He also out-fundraised and outspent Napoleon in the primary election.
Duggan has raised money throughout the state from businesses, unions, Democrats and Republicans, including $2,500 in contributions made in January by Rich Baird, Gov. Rick Snyder’s “transformation manager” who recruited candidates for Detroit’s emergency manager position and discussed the possibility with Duggan of becoming the city’s EM, according to state emails. Duggan has said he rejected the idea of being EM and lobbied the state to avoid the option.
Duggan did not schedule any public events Tuesday as he prepared for the Channel 7 debate.
Voters will decide next Tuesday whether Napoleon or Duggan will be the next mayor of Detroit. The election comes as the mayor’s ability to lead in the short term is limited because most major city decisions are being made by state-appointed Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.
The Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit branch of the NAACP, said the organization doesn’t support a specific candidate. Both candidates were invited to speak and Napoleon was the one candidate who accepted, he said.
Anthony, whose Fellowship Chapel’s Fannie Lou Hammer Political Action Committee has endorsed Napoleon, also stressed the importance of people going to the ballot box.
“Our city stands at a crossroads,” Anthony said. “One of the realities of this whole political dynamic is it has suppressed the desires of people to vote. Many people will tell you, ‘We’ve got an emergency manager, my vote really does not count.’ It is up to us to make sure that people know their vote does count.”