Detroit Mayoral candidate Mike Duggan greets his host David Miller, 80, a neighborhood resident for 50 years. (Ricardo Thomas / The Detroit News)
Detroit — As the general election draws near, both candidates for Detroit mayor are making their final pushes to mobilize their supporters and get out the vote.
Voters will choose next Tuesday whether former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan or Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon will be the city’s next leader.
The candidates are spending the weekend at a series of campaign events, with both appearing to focus on the city’s neighborhoods.
On Friday, Napoleon met with church leaders and other supporters before addressing the group of at least 1,000 residents gathered at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church on Van Dyke and Mack Avenue.
He walked in to the church amid a choir performance, alongside former Detroit corporation counsel Krystal Crittendon, whom he has chosen as his deputy mayor.
“This election could not be clearer,” Napoleon told the crowd. “This is big money against big people and the people will prevail.”
In a combination church service and voting rally that lasted for nearly four hours, more than a dozen local community and church leaders pledged their support for Napoleon and prayed for his victory.
Chokwe Lumumba, mayor of Jackson, Miss., was one of four southern leaders who attended the rally and spoke out in support of Napoleon and his pledge to fight emergency management in the city.
“You’ve got important things to do. November fifth is D-Day, Detroit’s day with destiny,” Lumumba told the crowd. “It’s not the time to crawl back on the plantation. It’s the time to stand up and fight.”
On Saturday, Duggan’s supporters held a barbecue in the empty lot next to his childhood home near Schaefer and Fenkell. It was the 250th and final house party of his campaign.
Duggan met with current homeowner David Miller, 81, who has lived in the house since 1969 and the candidate pledged to take care of the neighborhood.
“You’ve got beautiful brick houses right here,” Duggan said to Miller, while gesturing to abandoned homes down the street. “These don’t need to be torn down. They need to be restored.”
Duggan’s family moved out of the house in 1964 when he was six years old. Many of the homes around the neighborhood had lawn signs supporting Napoleon. But for his part, Miller says he is planning to vote for Duggan.
“We need a change. If we don’t get a chance, the city’s going to go further and further down the hole,” he said. “Sometimes I want to leave, but I’m going to stick with it.”
Duggan told the dozens of supporters and neighbors lured by commotion that he would work to restore pride and safety to the city.
“This is the kind of neighborhood we love and we can have it again,” said Duggan. “These neighborhoods can be beautiful again.”