Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to discuss 'hard work that has to be done' in annual speech

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — Mayor Mike Duggan will deliver his eighth state of the city speech Tuesday with a focus on initiatives to help Detroiters who've felt left out and left behind. 

Programs encompassed in an effort Duggan has dubbed the "People Plan" are expected to be a centerpiece of the mayor's virtual address, along with plans for another layer of auto insurance reform in Detroit and details on the distribution of the new Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID vaccine.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan

Detroit Deputy Mayor Conrad Mallett on Monday gave a broad overview of the key topics anticipated in the speech. Duggan is seeking a third term as mayor this year and will give the speech from inside the new $1.6 billion Mack Assembly Plant on the city's east side

"This is one of those times where we’re going to be talking about the hard work that has to be done," Mallett told The News. "In full recognition that our people deserve the very best of the hard work that this team can produce."

Duggan will lay out his priorities with the assembly line of the Stellantis plant as the backdrop. The site at Mack and St. Jean recently began production and is home to the Jeep brand's three-row SUV, the Grand Cherokee L. The facility is the first built in Detroit in the last three decades and is employing thousands of Detroiters.

Duggan, in announcing his campaign for another term in December, kicked off an effort to raise $50 million over five years to fund six programs under his People Plan including help for adults seeking to obtain high school diplomas, skilled trades training and door-to-door support programs.

The programs have all been deployed to varying degrees, but the funding being sought aims to continue and expand them. Mallett on Monday said the speech will cover the administration's plan to connect at least 2,000 Detroiters with the programming.

Mallett said the mayor is also expected to discuss the city's plan to roll out the new Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and the location where it will be administered.

The mayor's public comments about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and his decision last week to decline a shipment of 6,200 doses spurred pushback. 

Just after the vaccine gained federal approvals for emergency use, Duggan said he had no plans to offer it, saying it would be better directed to rural communities. Days later, he said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was good, but noted the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines — both already being administered in Detroit — were "the best." He said the city would administer future shipments of the vaccine, should there be a need to.

On Friday, Duggan appeared to walk back the prior comments, offering a more forceful endorsement of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The administration of President Joe Biden also weighed in, claiming Duggan's earlier comments had been misinterpreted. 

Separately, the mayor is expected to revisit the issue of auto insurance in Michigan and new efforts to ensure Detroiters are receiving fair and equal rates. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed historic auto reform legislation in the spring of 2019 to put an end to the state's unique requirement that motorists purchase policies that guarantee uncapped lifetime medical benefits in the event of catastrophic crash injuries. The state's new law went into effect in July.

Mallett said the mayor is "going to build on our past themes." He is expected to address affordable housing and support for small businesses, especially those hit hard by the pandemic.

"We're attacking, as usual, the fundamentals," Mallett said. "It's all related to the continued effort to improve the quality of life and put people back to work."