Polls close; voters weigh in on candidates, issues

James David Dickson and Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Detroit — All the doors had been knocked, the hands had been shaken, and the issues debated. All there was left for Mayor Mike Duggan to do, after four years and his second mayoral campaign, was to place his vote.

The mayor was punctual, arriving at precinct 135, at River House Condominiums, at 7:30 a.m., as expected, and accompanied by his son and daughter.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan casts his ballot in River House Condominiums, precinct 135, Nov. 7, 2017.

The Duggans were far from the first to vote that morning, with polls opening at 7 a.m. Immediately upon reaching the front desk, the mayor was complimentary of poll workers.

While Duggan declined to say what he’d consider a successful voter turnout, he did say, in remarks after voting, that he made his case over the last four years, but that the end result was in the hands of voters.

“In about 12 hours, I’m gonna get a report card from the people I work for,” Duggan said. “The response has been great from one end of the city to the other, but on Election Day you just want to see the final numbers.”

Detroit mayoral hopeful Coleman A. Young II cast his ballot at the Marcus Garvey Academy on Kercheval at Van Dyke.

Young voted in precinct 134 at about 8:45 a.m. He greeted poll workers with handshakes and hugs.

After he submitted his ballot, he sounded confident about defeating incumbent Mike Duggan.

“We feel like victory is on hand,” the state senator told reporters outside of the polls. “I think our message really connected with voters, so I’m really excited and expect victory.”

Coleman Young II casts his vote Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Sharon Hicks-Dangerfield, 61, returned to Detroit last year after being gone more than 30 years. Asked which candidate would be the best mayor, she said "Duggan."

Duggan is a white mayor in a city that's more than 80 percent black, who won in 2013 after getting through the primary with a successful write-in campaign. Race, Hicks-Dangerfield said, played no role in her decision.

"We had consecutive black mayors when the city was 80 percent black," she said. "People are tired of the mess. I'm glad (Young) had his opportunity to run and tell his side of the story, but Duggan has done what he said he'd do."

Critics say the city's recovery, such as it is, has been uneven under Duggan, and cite the mayor's own words, that Detroiters shouldn't give him a second term if the city's population didn't grow during his first term.

Detroit hasn't grown, Duggan admits, but was at least losing population at a slower rate. Duggan has said he believes growth is coming and asked for a second chance as mayor.

"I think the city is in a very different place" than the bankrupt city he was elected to lead in 2013, Duggan said. "Jobs are coming back, people are working. Now we have to spread the growth of downtown and Midtown to the neighborhoods."

Detroit resident Clare Valenti said the city clerk’s race prompted her to go to her polling place at the Marcus Garvey Academy to vote Tuesday.

“I cast my vote for Garlin Gilchrist,” she said as she left the school. “I feel we need a change. Janice Winfrey has been around long enough and it’s time to switch up that position.”

Voters across Metro Detroit headed to the polls Tuesday for Michigan’s General Election. The voters will choose mayors and city councils for their communities as well as decide the fate of several ballot proposals.

Contested mayoral elections also were held in Dearborn, Pontiac and Royal Oak.

Dearborn resident Wasei Almawri said he went to the polls Tuesday to make sure his voice is heard.

“I wanted to be sure my voice was heard about who I want to represent me in office,” the 39-year-old information technology worker said after casting his ballot.

He said he voted for the city’s incumbent mayor.

“I think he’s doing a good job,” Almawri said.

In neighboring Macomb County, voters will decide on school bonds and other proposals.

The largest measure is in Center Line, where residents are being asked to support a $59.3 million, 25-year bond issue to pay for facility upgrade and replace school buses in the Center Line Public Schools district. If approved, the bond would raise property taxes by 4.9 mills, or $196 a year on an $80,000 home.

Center Line resident Emily Hubbard said she hopes the Center Line bond proposal passes.

“I graduated from Center Line High School in 2008 and it needed help then,” she said. “The schools were overcrowded and the buildings were dilapidated in certain areas. I feel like it’s time to make a big change instead of all of the little fixes they’ve done.”