As Pastor Solomon Kinloch Jr. stands beside him, left, Duggan addresses the faithful. During a busy slate of appearances all day, Detroit Mayoral candidate Mike Duggan addresses worshippers at Triumph Church in Detroit. (Brandy Baker / The Detroit News)
Detroit — Mayoral candidates Benny Napoleon and Mike Duggan hitthe churches Sunday with two days to go before Tuesday’s election, making their cases to be the city’s next elected leader.
Wayne County Sheriff Napoleon, who finished second in the Aug. 6 primary with 30 percent of the vote to former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan’s 52 percent, said Sunday morning he felt comfortable that he has gotten out his message of strengthening neighborhoods and reducing crime.
“I feel great,” he said. “Our internal polling shows we’re tracking in the right direction, and our opponent is polling in the opposite direction.”
Polls have shown Duggan in the lead. Duggan said he is pleased with how he is being received by city residents.
“It feels great. Everybody that’s come up to me has said they already voted for me,” Duggan said at a stop at Gesu Church. “Based on what they are saying, it seems like I'm doing OK, but we’ll see Tuesday night.”
On the campaign trail, Napoleon told a full congregation at Bethel Baptist Church, East, that the city is at a critical point.
“I’m humbled to have the opportunity to stand before you on the eve of this historic election of the city of Detroit,” he told the crowd of about 200.
The former Detroit police chief reiterated that he is a person who knows what Detroiters are going through — abandoned houses on their blocks, streetlights that don’t work, high insurance rates and lots with weeds so high children can’t play in the yards.
But he downplayed the aspect of race to the parishioners on Sunday.
“I would never, ever stand at this pulpit and tell you to vote for me because I’m black,” said Napoleon, who is African-American; Duggan is white.
His follow-up statement drew a laugh from the crowd. “But don’t vote against me because I’m black.”
Napoleon discounted claims by those who said Detroit suffered from a lack of competent leadership, touting the abilities of former mayors Coleman Young and Dennis Archer and, to an extent, Kwame Kilpatrick.
“His compass was off, not his competency,” Napoleon said, referring to Kilpatrick, who was sentenced to 28 years in prison Oct. 10 on counts of extortion, bid rigging and bribery.
Later, at Perfecting Church, Napoleon received a standing ovation from hundreds when introduced by Rev. Marvin Winans, who has endorsed the sheriff, as “the next mayor of the city of Detroit.”
“This is a critical election,” Napoleon told parishioners. “This is a defining moment for the city of Detroit.”
Napoleon asked who the people wanted for the future of the city’s children.
“Is it me or is it the other guy? Bless you,” he said.
Around noon, Duggan appeared at Gesu Church on the city’s northwest side, where he greeted members after service.
“This is the way I started, going neighborhood to neighborhood. People are just wonderful," Duggan said outside Gesu Church.
Duggan has scheduled three church visits and a meeting with campaign workers Sunday, while Napoleon plans to visit more than a half-dozen churches.
Duggan’s second appearance on Sunday was at the Triumph Church East campus, where he told parishioners briefly about his background before saying his candidacy was sparked by his dismay about the Detroit.
“It wasn't an easy decision, but I was looking at what was happening in the city and I thought we can’t keep living like this,” Duggan said. “We can’t keep living in the dark because we can’t fix the streetlights. We can’t keep living in blight because we can’t fix abandoned houses.”
He added he’s going to be a mayor who will build coalitions to make Detroit better.
“I am going to work — if you trust me with your vote on Tuesday — every day for the next four years with you to unite the city and rebuild Detroit into the kind of city everyone deserves.”
Duggan was making the case in a last-minute push to court voters such as Bernard VanBuren. The 30-year-old Detroiter was still undecided Sunday, but liked what Duggan said during the service.
“He’s always said more than Napoleon has, but I need to sit down and decipher it all,” VanBuren said. “I want somebody to get in there and (do) what they said they were going to do and really look out for the well-being of the people of the city.”
Roddie Battle, 44, said it’s too late for Duggan to come into the neighborhood. Duggan’s last house party Saturday was held in the area where lives.
“It’s a rough neighborhood. If he’s talking about changing that neighborhood, it’s a whole lot of tearing down he needs (to do),” Battle said. “I want a fair mayor. But right now we can't even find anybody fair. Everybody is corrupt. We just don't know.”