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Public safety unions endorse Duggan for mayor

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

Detroit public safety unions endorsed Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan for re-election Friday morning, uniting to support the candidate they called "solution-oriented."

"Our coalition has, unanimously and without batting an eye, backed Mayor Mike Duggan," said Mike Nevin, president of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association. "We stand unified behind Mayor Duggan and his efforts to improve public safety, because we’ve seen it first hand."

Detroit's public safety unions endorsed Mayor Mike Duggan for re-election on Friday. From left is Mark Diaz, president of the Detroit Police Officers Association; Mark Young, president of the Detroit Police Lieutenants and Sergeants Association; Mayor Mike Duggan; and Mike Nevin, president of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association.

The coalition endorsing Duggan includes the Detroit Fire Fighters Association as well as the Detroit Police Officers Association, the Detroit Police Command Officers Association and the Detroit Police Lieutenants and Sergeants Association. The unions collectively represent more than 3,000 active and retired public safety workers.

Duggan attended the endorsement, which he said was the first time all four unions rallied behind the same candidate.

"The days where the mayor is fighting with the unions, fighting with the (City) Council, fighting with Lansing as the city continued to decline, those days are over," he said. "These are the heroes of Detroit and I’m honored to have their endorsement."

The endorsement came just over two months before the April 25 filing deadline for candidates. It came on the same day that State Senator Coleman Young II, D-Detroit, the best-known, highest-profile challenger to Duggan, has scheduled a press conference to announce his candidacy.

Nevin said it was a simple decision to back Duggan before all potential candidates had entered the race.

"We feel it’s important as public safety to let people know immediately where we’re at," he said. "Before this even starts, it’s already over. We support Mayor Duggan, who supports the city of Detroit."

Nevin said Duggan's work to revive public safety was key to the endorsement.

We’ve made improvements, light speed, this last year. For 30 years, this department has been pretty much on its knees and mismanaged," Nevin said. "Mayor Duggan has put the right people in place and afforded the expenditures to get the equipment we needed."

Duggan last year opened public safety contracts to renegotiate wages, said Mark Diaz, president of the Detroit Police Officers Association.

The mayor also has focused on repairs, new equipment and training necessary to improve the fire department's rating with the insurance service organization, which in turn would lower residents' homeowners and business insurance payments, Nevin said.

Union officials on Friday also pointed at day-to-day improvements as a reason to endorse Duggan. Crews recently have received near uniforms, repaired and new fire trucks, and they see more functioning fire hydrants, Nevin said.

"And we have toilet paper, we have heat, we have lights. We're bringing the department out of the dark ages," he added. "Duggan is solution-oriented, not problem-based. He doesn't want to hear about the problems; he wants to hear about the solutions."

Mark Young, president of the Detroit Police Lieutenants and Sergeants Association, urged Duggan to build on his previous successes.

"For the first time, we’ve got a mayor that we can communicate with. We don’t have to have our fists brought up," he said. "What I say is: Mr. Mayor, you have the wind at your back."

Duggan said Feb. 4 he would seek re-election during an event attended by about 650 people at the Samaritan Center. At the time, the mayor made clear he anticipated competition in the race.

“There will be a campaign,” he said. “This is Detroit."

The biggest-name likely adversary is Young, who picked up petitions Monday to enter the Aug. 8 primary race. He is the only son of Detroit’s first African-American mayor, Coleman Alexander Young, who served for five terms from 1974-94 and died in 1997. Young II unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2009 when he was a state representative.

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