Victorious Duggan: 'One Detroit for all of us'

Christine Ferretti, and Christine MacDonald
The Detroit News

Detroit — Detroit Mike Duggan cruised to victory by more than a 2-1 margin over challenger State Sen. Coleman A. Young II in Tuesday's matchup to be the city’s next leader, according to unofficial election results.

Duggan had 72 percent of the vote to Young's 28 percent with all 590 precincts reporting, according to the Detroit City Clerk's office.

"I have been treated with nothing but warmth and kindness from Detroiters in every neighborhood in the city," Duggan told the crowd gathered at his victory party at the Detroit Marriott. "I hope that this is the year where we put us-versus-them politics behind us forever because we believe in a one Detroit for all of us."

In his concession speech, Young said he may have come up short in the election but believed he had started a movement to help the politically dispossessed.

“The campaign might be over but the passion and values are eternal,” he said to cheers from supporters. “We are the voice for the voiceless. We are the hope for the hopeless.”

He said the campaign was hurt by a lack of money, which led to shortages of campaign signs and T-shirts. But he said the campaign persevered and should be proud that it finished what it started.

“In the end we made it,” he said. “We shook up the world.”

Duggan, who won a write-in primary campaign in 2013 and then defeated Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon in the general election, won his second, four-year term. He will be the first mayor to serve two terms since Dennis Archer in the 1990s if he finishes another four years in 2021.

The mayor had come out ahead in fundraising, endorsements and the August primary, winning 68 percent of the vote to Young’s 27 percent. The 59-year-old former Detroit Medical Center CEO secured prominent endorsements from city labor unions, clergy and business groups, and raised about $2.2 million to Young's just under $39,000.

Duggan said his campaign had to decide if it would “trash our opponent” or “spend the time talking about the vision of what we are going to do in the next four years.”

“I thought one of the most profound things President Obama ever said was ‘If you have to divide people in order to get elected, you’ll never be able to govern,'" he said.

Young complimented Duggan on a well-fought race and hushed supporters who began to criticize the mayor.

"You got to give it to him,” he said about Duggan.

He thanked the crowd for their support and they began to chant his name over and over,

"This is just the beginning,” Young said. “The revolution lives on.”

The mayor's victory margin is likely the largest since incumbent Mayor Dennis Archer trounced state Rep. Ed Vaughn in 1997 by a nearly 5-to-1 margin.

Linda Smiley said Duggan has made strides in some city neighborhoods and needs more time in office to get the work done.

"They repaved our street and our sidewalks and tore out a burned-out house that’s been here for I don’t know how long," said Smiley, 55, an auto worker. “To actually see something being done, it makes you feel like somebody does care about our city and our neighborhoods. I know it starts downtown and it’s spreading out into the neighborhoods.”

But Herbert Tate, 69, said he supported Young, 35, because Duggan’s administration has focused too much on downtown development.

“(Young) could do something different as far as building this inner part of the city,” said Tate, who voted at Warren Bow Elementary-Middle School. “I think he would concentrate on that so I’m giving him a chance.”

Michael Crawford said he voted for Young because the challenger represented the best chance for improvements in city neighborhoods. Crawford, 45, said Duggan was interested only in helping downtown Detroit and big businesses.

“He doesn’t care about the little man, only the fat cats,” he said.

Young ran a low-budget, grassroots campaign that slammed Duggan on claims he’s neglected the city’s neighborhoods. He also focused on the city’s poverty rate and crime problems, water shutoffs and redlining in Detroit’s car insurance rates.

The senator’s bid also relied on the legacy of his late father, Coleman A. Young, who served the city for two decades as Detroit’s first African-American mayor.

“We’ve definitely done enough to get the message out,” Young told The News last month. “We’ve talked to people about who we are, what we want to do and why we are doing this and how we want to do it.”

Duggan touted service improvements that have come online during his term including new street lights, improved public safety response and more dependable bus lines. Duggan said he intends to continue work on building a unified Detroit and has rolled out a series of efforts to fix up neighborhood corridors, roads and sidewalks.

Finley: Mike Duggan’s challenge is to unite Detroit

“There are haves and have-nots in every city in America. We’re building a city here that it doesn’t matter where you start, you have the opportunity to be successful,” he said after his victory.

The mayor has said auto insurance is the biggest challenge facing Detroiters. He pushed hard on an auto insurance reform bill that was met with defeat late last week in the state House.

Duggan said late Tuesday that he doesn’t intend to give up.

“We were a lot closer this time than we were two years ago, and we have a plan to get it through the next time,” he said. "It’s going to be one relationship at a time, one vote at a time but we’ve already had several meetings with both the medical and the legal community, and I think they realize we were three votes away” from passing legislation in the state House.

Tenisha White, 31, said more work is needed in her neighborhood but she believes Duggan has things headed on the right path.

“I want to keep Duggan. Coleman doesn’t have too much experience,” White, a west-side resident and medical assistant, said after casting her ballot at Greater Grace Temple on Seven Mile.

“So far, the downtown looks nice,” said White who credits the Duggan administration for the number of blighted houses torn down in her area. “He’s done a good job as far as that goes. Our other mayors didn’t do it.”

Camille Purifoy, 41, also voted for Duggan Tuesday. She said she wants more work done to get blight cleared out of neighborhoods and to lower car insurance rates.

“Everybody has room for improvement, but he’s made a lot of good progress at the same time,” said Purifoy, who lives on the west side and works as a lab assistant.

Young, she said, hasn’t shown voters proof of what he could do.

“I really haven’t seen and heard anything about him doing anything until it’s time for the mayoral election,” she said.

On Sunday, Duggan and Young made their closing arguments to community groups.

Young kicked off the morning at his home church, St. Paul Church of God in Christ on the city’s east side. Duggan made his final stop of the 2017 campaign at Historic Little Rock Baptist Church, the site where he first announced his mayoral bid.

Young on Monday evening hosted “Take Back the Motherland Rally” at Solomon’s Temple banquet hall on E. Seven Mile.

The senator, during the first and only debate between the candidates last month, proclaimed it was “time to take back the motherland for the people.”

During the televised Oct. 25 debate, the candidatesalso sparred over the city’s violent crime rate, neighborhoods and claims of corruption in the city’s federally funded demolition program.

Young’s campaign and a political action committee supporting him have released attack ads hammering Duggan over the city’s uneven comeback and claims of alleged corruption.

Most recently, a racially charged ad likened Duggan to disgraced former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick alluding to an ongoing federal investigation into the city’s federally funded demolition program. It was a contention the Duggan administration countered is “totally false.”

Duggan’s ads have focused on his accomplishments in adding job training programs, blight removal and attracting new companies to city neighborhoods. Campaign staff has said the spots center on work the administration is doing and what lies ahead.

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Staff Writer Francis X. Donnelly contributed