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Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said he’s unsatisfied with the city’s crime rates and is working every day on the issue.

“The violence is not coming down at the rate we need it to,” Duggan told local journalists who are members of the Detroit Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists during an exclusive interview at the St. Regis Hotel in Midtown. “I’m going to keep (working) everyday until it does.”

Duggan answered questions on several issues, including Detroit Public Schools and efforts to raze vacant homes. The event was part of the DC-NABJ’s continuing “Conversation With” series, a no-holds barred interview with local leaders and newsmakers.

The mayor said he expects the state of Michigan to pay off the debt of Detroit Public Schools, which has increased to $238 million from $169 million last year.

Duggan said he wants the district next year to return to local control after several years under a state emergency manager. He also took a shot at charter schools, citing statistics he said indicates their students perform no better than those at public schools.

“What’s going on with these charter schools?” Duggan asked. “Charter schools on average are not performing any better than our public schools.”

Duggan also touted efforts to raze homes. The city has torn down 6,800 since he took office in January 2014, said his spokesman John Roach. Federal funding for the effort is expected to run out in April, but Duggan said he plans to seek other sources of money to pay for the effort. Until then, the city plans to tear down 150 homes per week.

Duggan also was asked about race. He’s the city’s first white mayor in 40 years.

“People are not interacting with me based on race,” Duggan said. “People are interacting with me based on what’s in their heart.”

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2027

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