13 candidates file to challenge Duggan in 2021 mayor's race

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — A perennial mayoral candidate is the latest high-profile figure making a bid to take on Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan this fall, joining Kwame Kilpatrick-era deputy mayor Anthony Adams and 11 others, including a handful of repeat candidates.

Tom Barrow, 71, submitted petition signatures Tuesday ahead of the 4 p.m. filing deadline, saying "it's time for a real Detroiter."

Tom Barrow, 71, has filed petitions to make a bid for Detroit mayor in 2021

Barrow, an activist and former certified public accountant, is seeking certification for the race that would mark the second go around with Duggan, and Barrow's fifth run for mayor in Detroit. Duggan turned his signatures in Tuesday as well. 

"I'm competent, I'm capable. I'm a Detroiter through-and-through," Barrow told The Detroit News Tuesday, adding he stepped up because he didn't feel other challengers emerging in the race could "bring the energy."

"Detroit is in my DNA," he added. "People know that I care, that I will look out for them and will protect them and not allow them to be misused."

City elections records showed past mayoral hopefuls Curtis Greene, Articia Bomer, Danetta Simpson and Myya Jones also had filed petitions by the 4 p.m. deadline. Other candidates include Cheryl Webb, Jasahn Larsosa, Charleta McInnis, Arthur Tyus, Emanuel Shaw, Kiawana Brown and D. Etta Wilcoxon. 

Duggan, 62, announced his plans in December to seek a third term, signaling that his focus will be jobs and opportunities for residents. He also unveiled a campaign to raise $50 million over five years for what he's dubbed "The People Plan" to bolster programs that help residents obtain high school diplomas, job training and support services.

Myya Jones

Duggan has said the effort is designed to combat structural racism, poverty and inadequate educational opportunities that have held back Detroiters for generations.

Adams made his intentions public on Facebook in January. He's gone after Duggan over the city's high poverty and crime rates and accused him of "benign neglect."

Mario Morrow, a Southfield-based political consultant with deep ties to Detroit, said at this point, he sees Duggan as the front-runner.

"It's hard to tell who is going to be the top challenger, especially now that Tom Barrow, who has good name recognition and has run for mayor several times before, is in the race," Morrow said. "It boils down to a few things; money, name recognition and who can actually deliver the best plan for the next four years."

On Tuesday, Adams, 65, told The News he was feeling positive about the work he's done thus far on the campaign trail. He said he's connected with community groups, businesses and activists and said "I feel very confident in my ability to move forward."

Adams' campaign is focused on reducing crime, reforming police practices, addressing the over-taxation of homeowners, structural racism, hunger and water shutoffs. 

He said he's mailed out more than 250,000 pieces of literature and conducted phone banking and knocked on doors. He said he'll be opening a campaign headquarters in May.

"I'm just getting my message out there; there is a viable alternative here in order to move the city forward," he said. 

Former deputy mayor, Anthony Adams, announced his campaign for mayor of Detroit Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021.

Adams, an attorney, served as deputy mayor under Kilpatrick. A former executive assistant to the late mayor Coleman A. Young, Adams also held roles with Detroit's public school system, as president of the Board of Education and the district's corporation counsel. 

Barrow challenged Duggan in the 2013 race and raised issue with whether Duggan, who moved to Detroit from Livonia, had met City Charter requirements for residency to appear on the Detroit ballot. Duggan was later forced to wage a write-in campaign but ultimately prevailed, although Barrow unsuccessfully challenged the validity of some of the write-in submissions that resulted in Duggan being the top vote-getter in the August primary. 

Barrow has challenged several past mayors, including Dave Bing and the late Coleman A. Young, unsuccessfully running for the office of mayor in 1985, 1989 and 2009.

In the last election cycle, Barrow noted Tuesday, he "stood down" in favor of Coleman A. Young II, who challenged Duggan. In 2017, Duggan sailed to victory over Young, a former state senator, pulling in over 70% of the vote. 

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan holds a briefing at Detroit Pubic Safety HQ to detail plans to administer the new Johnson and Johnson vaccine and expand eligibility in Detroit for COVID shots, Thursday, March 4, 2021.

Running under the campaign banner “RealDetroiter," Barrow said his platform will be centered around "local pride" in the city that he contends is recovering from a "contrived" bankruptcy, which he claims wrongfully impaired Detroit retiree pensions and resulted in the state's long-term lease of Belle Isle, a city jewel.

Barrow said, if elected, he'll evaluate options for restoring pensions, putting an end to water shutoffs and creating a water affordability program for vulnerable residents.

He also wants to appoint a panel "to review options and the propriety of the city's bankruptcy," a moratorium on city tax auctions and to dismantle Detroit's Land Bank Authority. 

Barrow on Tuesday accused Duggan of not residing in the Manoogian Mansion. But Duggan's former chief of staff and reelection campaign manager Alexis Wiley, countered Barrow, maintaining Duggan has and does live there.

In a statement to The News, Wiley said the claims are the "kind of lying and hate-spewing we've come to know from Tom Barrow and why he got less than 4% of the vote the last time he ran against the mayor in 2013."

Detroit's mayor earns $175,448 per year. After petitions are canvassed, candidates will be certified within seven to 10 days.