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Detroit — State Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo says she's forming a committee to explore a mayoral bid in 2021.

Gay-Dagnogo, a Democrat representing Michigan's 8th District in northwest Detroit who is term-limited in her post, said Friday that she's assembling a team of advisors and supporters and hosting ongoing community meetings to evaluate a run for the city's top office. 

"Detroit needs a matriarch," said Gay-Dagnogo, 53. "I'm going to do the work that is necessary to assess the strength of our candidacy. There are many women, I believe, that can lead our city forward. I just think it's time for a woman mayor for the city of Detroit. That is not debatable."

Gay-Dagnogo formally announced interest in exploring her candidacy for the 2021 race days after incumbent Mayor Mike Duggan suggested that a run for a third term was in the cards. 

Duggan has yet to make a formal announcement about his intention to seek another term, but during the Detroit Policy Conference on Wednesday, he signaled it was his plan when asked whether he felt he's done enough to convince Detroiters that he's earned another four years.

"Folks will make a decision in 2021, that's the great thing about the process. They'll get the chance to rehire me or fire me, and that's the way it should be," Duggan said. "I'll get judged at that point."

Duggan said he expected a "vigorous campaign" and that the people of Detroit "will make a decision and I'll be grateful for that decision, whatever it is."

Gay-Dagnogo first announced her intentions to explore a bid Thursday night while celebrating her birthday during a women in leadership event at International Marketplace in front of about 250 people. She also referenced her intentions during a late-night appearance on WJBK-TV's "Let it Rip."

In recent years, the state lawmaker formerly joined a crowded field of Democrats vying for the U.S. House seat formerly held by longtime Rep. John Conyers Jr., who resigned in December 2017 amid allegations of sexual harassment. She ultimately pulled out of the race to focus on completing her term. 

Gay-Dagnogo has been an advocate for quality education and issues affecting seniors, affordable housing and automobile insurance and criminal justice reform, co-sponsoring a bill last fall aimed at clearing the criminal records of more of Michigan's ex-offenders. 

She also has been critical of Detroit's demolition program, urging council members in October to weigh whether more taxpayer money should be allocated for demolition after a home her nonprofit was renovating was mysteriously razed.

Gay-Dagnogo, who also opposed Duggan's failed attempt to gain approval to put a $250 million bond proposal for voters in the spring to fund demolition, has made note of the controversy surrounding the city's federally funded effort that's been the subject of local, state and federal probes. 

On Friday, Gay-Dagnogo said there's been great advancement in Detroit, especially downtown. But she believes it's important to "close the gap on the tale of two cities."

"We can do that with someone who sees through the lens of Detroit residents and what's needed in the neighborhoods," she said. 

cferretti@detroitnews.com

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