Young: Duggan spurns a second mayoral debate

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — The campaign for mayoral candidate state Sen. Coleman Young II is accusing Mayor Mike Duggan of refusing to take part in more than one debate before the Nov. 7 election, especially scheduling one in early October that could influence absentee voters.

Young’s campaign on Monday noted Duggan last week made a “one-debate offer” after Young spent nearly two weeks calling for a series of debates. The Oct. 25 date, agreed to by the two campaigns on Thursday, will take place less than 10 business days before this fall’s general election.

That’s “not good enough,” said Adolph Mongo, campaign manager for the state senator and mayoral candidate Young.

“Unacceptable,” Mongo said in a news release issued Monday. “Duggan needs to come out of the candidate protection program and debate — at least twice — before November. What’s the fear?”

In the Aug. 8 primary, Duggan received 69 percent of the vote to Young’s 27 percent, according to the unofficial results. The mayor has also secured prominent endorsements from city labor unions, clergy and business groups and raised more than $1.6 million to Young’s $22,000, giving him a big advantage going into the fall campaign and little incentive to do more than one debate.

Mongo argues at least two debates should be scheduled before Election Day and if there’s only one, it should occur in early October.

The city’s Department of Elections will begin mailing out the absentee voter ballots on Sept. 23. Registered voters can return the absentee ballots until Nov. 7, but many usually return them to the clerk’s office by early to mid-October.

Duggan himself has said he would participate in one debate, noting that “I debated the last time. I’ll debate this time.”

In 2013, the former Detroit Medical Center chief executive participated in three debates with Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, not the one forum his campaign has committed to on Oct. 25, sponsored by The Detroit News and two local television stations.

Sharon Banks, spokeswoman for the Duggan for Detroit Committee, reiterated Monday that the campaign has committed to the single debate and that there’s no further information at this time.

“There’s been the commitment for the one debate and the details will be worked out between the organizers and the campaign,” said Banks, who declined to respond to claims from the Young campaign.

Mongo said Duggan has declined two other invitations to directly face Young: a debate-style forum hosted by the Detroit Economic Club and a town hall meeting to discuss the city’s high poverty rate.

The town hall was to be organized and led by Bankole Thompson, a radio talk show host and Detroit News contributing columnist.

The Economic Club confirmed Monday it has extended a debate invitation to both the Young and Duggan campaigns for a mutually agreeable date. Both campaigns have acknowledged receipt.

Banks on Monday confirmed the Economic Club’s offer was received but the campaign decided against another debate.

Young has repeatedly criticized Duggan for neglecting neighborhoods and for a federal criminal investigation into the city’s demolition program.

Duggan, who is seeking his second, four-year term, has said his campaign will stay focused on building a unified city and that he won’t be engaging Young’s mudslinging. He has touted the comeback of areas of the city and the lowest Detroit unemployment rate since 2000.