Mayor Duggan to community leaders: I want second term

Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News

Detroit — Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan told a group of community leaders he’s preparing to run for the office again and hopes for such a strong primary victory that the general election will be a foregone conclusion.

Duggan hasn’t formally announced he is seeking a second term, but he left little doubt to the more than 100 community leaders invited to the Saturday event held at the offices of SEIU Healthcare Michigan, 2604 Fourth St. The election is Nov. 7.

“There was little question that he is going to run again. They even showed campaign signs,” said Thomas Page, a New Center resident and Midtown activist who attended the event. Duggan plans to run on the strength of his record of his first four years, as well as tout his ability to work with a wide range of political groups, attendees said.

Duggan is prepared for some opponents to bring up again the issue of his race — he is Detroit’s first white mayor in 40 years — and that he is an outsider, and he called the issue “nonsense,” the attendees said. He even introduced his campaign manager, Rico Razo, a former district manager for the Mayor’s Office, who also ran the Detroit office of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

The response was enthusiastic, said three attendees. Dozens in the crowd lined up to talk to the mayor after he finished he speaking, which was an invitation-only event. Those who attended appeared to represent neighborhoods from across the city, several attendees said.

“A lot of people seemed ready to help him run again,” said Paul Emery of the North Corktown Community Association.

A spokesman for Duggan Sunday evening said he was not connected to the campaign and couldn’t comment. Duggan is widely expected to formally launch his re-election campaign at a noon announcement Feb. 4 at the Samaritan Center, 5555 Conner, on the city’s east side. That’s the same location Duggan announced his run for mayor in 2013.

Duggan plugs Feb. event when asked about re-election

Duggan told the community leaders he wanted a strong victory in the Aug. 8. primary, which would make the November election between the top two vote getters essentially a done deal for Duggan.

Duggan had a tumultuous primary during his first mayoral campaign. He was kicked off the ballot after it was ruled he hadn’t lived in Detroit for more than one year at the time he turned in his petition to run for office. He ran as a write-in candidate and received 45 percent of the primary vote. In the general election, he won, by 55 percent to 45 percent against Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

Duggan touted his major service improvements for Detroit. Among them, the installation of 65,000 LED streetlights, improved police and EMS response times, and new city buses. Over the last three years, the city has reported reductions in homicides, carjackings and nonfatal shootings, and last year rolled out the Project Green Light initiative to deter crime at city gas stations, party stores and restaurants.

The city has deals welcoming several major automotive manufacturing centers and suppliers and a new Little Caesars Arena will be the future home of the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons.

At the Saturday event, he didn’t bring up what has been a centerpiece of his administration: Detroit’s massive blight demolition program. The effort has taken down nearly 11,000 blighted houses, primarily with federal funding, since spring 2014. But the program has also been at the center of a federal criminal investigation and other state, federal and local reviews after concerns were raised in the fall of 2015 about soaring costs and bidding practices.

Officials with the city and Detroit Land Bank Authority, which oversees the program, have defended the effort and said they are fully cooperating with all investigations.

Twitter: @LouisAguilar_DN