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Frontrunners absent at Detroit mayoral forum

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Just days after the election filing deadline, a handful of Detroit mayoral hopefuls came together for a Friday forum to share their views, but not the two frontrunners.

Much of the attention in the race to run Michigan’s largest city has centered on current Mayor Mike Duggan and state Sen. Coleman Young II, who is widely believed to be his top challenger. Neither attended the forum Prophet Cedric Banks hosted at the WOW Church & Life Center.

The mayor was out of town on Friday, according to his office, and Young’s campaign said the senator planned to attend another event.

Instead, a few candidates turned up at the east side center to explain their platforms in advance of the Aug. 8 primary.

Sixteen candidates turned in petitions by Tuesday’s filing deadline for the 2017 election. Four candidates — three of which attended Friday’s forum — were rejected; others await certification, according to filings the city Department of Elections released Friday, which was the last day to withdraw from the race.

Duggan,Young, and youth mentor Edward Dean are the only candidates confirmed for the ballot so far.

Eight residents who filed petitions for the mayoral race attended Friday’s forum. Those who spoke before a sparse crowd highlighted their credentials and backgrounds and touted plans to push the Motor City forward.

“It’s time for us to recognize that if we’re going to have a different kind of city, we need to have a different kind of mentality,” said William Spirgion Noakes Jr., a University of Michigan-Dearborn professor and former Wayne County deputy corporation counsel. .

Others discussed addressing problems Detroiters face — including enhancing education, curbing crime and creating jobs.

“I have seen in the last 10 years how the school system has been devastated through emergency management,” said Jeffrey Robinson, who is principal of Paul Roberson Malcolm X Academy.

Education was a key issue for Curtis Christopher Greene, an author, activist and ordained minister. “I have strategies to set up educational institutions throughout neighborhoods nobody else is talking about.”

The chance to hear more of the candidates’ views encouraged Pam Smith, who attends the church.

“If they’re elected to run the city, we want to know what they stand for, what the issues are and how they’re going to resolve them,” she said.

Eight residents who filed petitions for the mayoral race attended Friday’s forum.