Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is not known for miscalculations that will cost him politically. Instead his shrewd political maneuverings have rendered him and his administration an unbeatable force in governing the affairs of the city. 

But the fortified wall that has earned Duggan a reputation for being a tough guy and a political heavyweight seems to be crumbling with some of the scandals and missteps that have rocked the administration this year alone. 

For example, the deleted emails related to the prenatal Make Your Date program, which is now the subject of a state attorney general’s investigation; the Motor City Match program being under federal review; a scathing auditor general’s report claiming the mayor’s troubled demolition program did not follow the rules; and a recent announcement that the Detroit Land Bank Authority will undergo a forensic audit are all issues that will haunt the mayor in 2020. 

The outcome of these high stakes investigations could prove volatile to Duggan’s political future because he would just be one year away from seeking reelection.   

In addition, the mayor’s key $250 million bond proposal to fight blight was voted down overwhelmingly by the Detroit City Council two weeks ago, denying the administration a significant win it could have used to ring in the new year. 

More: Detroit council's rejection of Duggan's $250M demolition bond plan to stand

But Duggan seems to understand how the negative impact of these pitfalls is being felt across city government. It is likely to change the power dynamics between him and City Council members moving forward, some of whom would be prepared to publicly disagree with some of his policies in 2020.

In fact, at a recent community meeting at Christian Fellowship of Love Baptist Church on the city’s west side the mayor sounded defeated by the actions of council. He indicated that he respected their vote and would work with them individually to iron out differences in the coming weeks. His tone was somber and different from the arrogant mayor who went to Little Rock Baptist Church several years ago, and vowed to unseat the members of the Detroit delegation in Lansing who initially voted against his D-Insurance proposal because they simply disagreed with him.   

In the corporate community, where the mayor enjoys reliable support, some are watching the turbulent activities at City Hall with caution. One particular business leader wondered if Duggan himself can sustain any political damage that may come out of the scandals hanging over the administration, and what that portends for the future.

Still to many Detroiters, it will matter how Duggan governs next year in changing their bleak view of the recovery, especially among the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

So far, we’ve seen no drastic or major reduction of poverty, yet downtown is expanding its economic influence with a constant flow of investments into all kinds of innovative projects. 

When you examine the contrast between the business district and the neighborhoods, 2020 becomes a defining year for Duggan because of the broad range of issues that would dictate his political fortunes as well as the future of Detroit.

Catch “Redline with Bankole Thompson,” which is broadcast at 11 a.m. weekdays on Superstation 910AM.You can follow him on Twitter @BankoleDetNews.

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