Key mayoral, council races at stake in Metro Detroit
Voters on Tuesday will narrow the field of mayoral and City Council contenders vying to advance in Tuesday municipal primary races in Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties while a few communities will decide tax proposals.
In Hamtramck, incumbent Karen Majewski is being challenged by Mohammed Hassan and Asm Rahman as well as Cathie Ladzinski Gordon in a city that has what’s believed to be the country’s first Muslim-majority city council. There also are 12 candidates running for three open council seats.
In Michigan’s largest city, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan faces seven challengers, including state Sen. Coleman A. Young II, the son of the city’s first African-American mayor. The top two vote-getters will advance to the Nov. 7 general election.
Duggan has pulled in prominent endorsements from labor groups, the business community and religious leaders.
So far, the mayor said he’s relied on a grassroots campaign with door knocking, phone banks and community meetings to get his message out. The campaign confirmed it has not aired a single radio or television advertisement.
The mayor last week said there’s more opportunity and inclusion in the city and Detroit’s unemployment rate is at its lowest in 17 years.
“People come up to me and say ‘I didn’t vote for you four years ago, but I’m supporting you now,’” he said. “There’s nothing as an elected official that is more rewarding to hear than that.”
Young said he’s going door-to-door, promoting his message of fighting water shutoffs and higher auto insurance rates on social media, in the community and senior homes.
On Monday, campaign manager Adolph Mongo said the efforts continue.
“We’re working. It’s what we’ve been doing throughout this campaign,” Mongo said, adding they are reaching residents in the neighborhoods, people he said “that the city has refused to acknowledge.”
Young previously unveiled a wide-ranging revitalization plan for Detroit that threatens to sue state government to reverse some longstanding policies. Mongo said the campaign intends to unveil additional plans later this week but didn’t provide further details.
“Wednesday the real election comes,” he said.
The senator has argued Duggan has forgotten city neighborhoods and is critical of the city’s land bank, which is the focus of a federal criminal investigation.
On Monday, the Young campaign renewed its call to have a special prosecutor investigate the land bank’s programs. The city’s demolition effort is the centerpiece of Duggan’s blight-fighting efforts, but it came under scrutiny in 2015 in the wake of rising costs and bidding concerns.
The other mayoral hopefuls include first-time candidate Donna Marie Pitts, youth mentor Edward Dean, document specialist Articia Bomer, Danetta L. Simpson, author Curtis Greene and Angelo Brown, a retired pastor.
There also are mayor’s races in Dearborn, Dearborn Heights and Pontiac, where Mayor Deidre Waterman faces seven challengers.
Council contests will be winnowed in communities including Detroit, Pontiac, Center Line, New Baltimore and St. Clair Shores.
In the Detroit clerk’s campaign, six candidates are taking on incumbent Clerk Janice Winfrey. Many of them say they are hoping to capitalize on the mishaps Winfrey’s office had in the November election.
A state audit of 136 precincts — triggered by voting irregularities — found “an abundance of human errors” by city precinct workers in that election. Winfrey, who is running for a fourth term as clerk, blamed the issues on outdated equipment.
Her contenders include former NAACP Detroit branch executive director Heaster Wheeler, D. Etta Wilcoxon, Garlin D. Gilchrist II, Faustine Amara Onwuneme, Cynthia A. Johnson and Ronald Creswell.
If re-elected, Winfrey said she plans to continue advocating for “no reason” absentee voting in Michigan.
“What I’ve done for the citizens of Detroit is work hard for the spirit of integrity and professionalism,” she said.
One of Winfrey’s biggest challengers is Wheeler, a former Wayne County assistant executive.
Wheeler said he spent Monday campaigning at facilities and knocking on doors in neighborhoods. His biggest message, Wheeler said, is for Detroiters to make sure they get out and vote.
“We are feeling very, very encouraged,” Wheeler said.
Wilcoxon, who lost to Winfrey in the 2013 general election, said Monday that she was campaigning with residents on the far east side. Many of them, she said, are concerned about the ballot issues from last year. Others have told her they don’t vote absentee anymore because they are worried about their vote being counted, she said.
Name recognition will help her at the polls, said Wilcoxon, who joined activist Robert Davis in unsuccessful lawsuits aimed at stopping tax money from financing arena improvements in Detroit.
“The clerk’s office, in large part, depends on the integrity of the person running the department,” she said.
There also will be scattered tax proposals. In Grosse Pointe, officials are asking voters to approve a $12.96 million public safety and public services bond issue. The funds would pay for a new public safety headquarters and a new public services building.
Officials for Romulus Community Schools are asking voters to approve a 10-year operating renewal for 2.5 mills, down from the previously authorized 5.13 mills. The other is a 10-year sinking fund increase for no more than 3 mills for real estate purchases and school repairs.
■Polls are open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. in certain Metro Detroit communities.
■ Voters will be asked to show a piece of photo identification. If they do not have a photo ID, they must sign an affidavit attesting that they’re not in possession of their ID.
■Download sample ballots and look up precincts at vote.michigan.gov/mvic/.