Bankole Thompson: Mike Duggan needs a real challenger in mayoral race
Detroit is in desperate need of help, and the issues facing it warrant an honest debate over which direction the city should go in the next four years.
Consider the unresolved $600 million overtaxation of struggling homeowners that was revealed in a Detroit News investigation. It remains one of the largest financial scandals of Detroit government in the modern era.
Think about the challenges minority businesses have faced in the demolition contracting process, and how little business Black entrepreneurs have gotten. It was revealed three years ago that of the city’s $148 million federal Hardest Hit Fund, only 16% went to African American contractors.
Then look at the most recent audit report of the troubled Detroit Land Bank Authority that raises red flags about accounting practices involving millions of dollars of payments made to vendors reportedly not on the authority's approved list.
Add to that the water shutoffs on poor families in the city as well as the Make Your Date maternal health nonprofit which came under heavy scrutiny over reports of preferential treatment by the mayor and some of his staff.
These issues could fuel an intense mayoral race this year as Mike Duggan seeks a third term in office.
But it doesn’t seem as if Duggan will face a strong challenger who will hold him to account for the failures of his administration over the last four years.
None of the current crop of candidates seeking to deny Duggan another term is faring well in the most recent poll of 400 Detroit voters conducted from May 18-20. The survey suggests a nearly 50-percentage point lead for Duggan over Anthony Adams and Tom Barrow.
The poll, by Detroit pollster Ed Sarpolus, is a snapshot of where the race for mayor stands. The numbers could possibly be a harbinger for things to come if Duggan’s challengers, especially Adams, don't wake up and smell the coffee.
Adams served as deputy mayor under former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and held a number of positions in and outside Detroit government. He launched his campaign earlier this year to unseat Duggan.
“Anthony Adams will have to do more than just posting on Facebook and other social media sites," Sarpolus told me. "That is not going to cut it. The media won’t do his work for him. He is not Donald Trump. He is not gaining enough traction.”
Adams must play catch-up with Duggan, and demonstrate that he is truly a formidable challenger. But the real issue is that Detroiters deserve a real election — not another coronation.
No candidate should be allowed to return to office without facing the hard questions over quality of life issues.
“No one is pushing back at Duggan, who is picking what issues he wants to address,” Sarpolus says. “Adams has to show that he is a fighter and that he can raise money. Merely coming through the primary does not guarantee any support in the general election.”
He added: “Where are the groups in the Black community that are supposedly upset with Duggan?”
I have spoken with several Black leaders who are concerned about his failures in expanding economic opportunities to Black businesses and the problems in the Detroit Police Department.
While the mayor has been a disappointment, they are waiting for a candidate who has the political mettle and guts to take Duggan on the issues they care about most.
Catch “Redline with Bankole Thompson,” which broadcasts at 11 a.m. weekdays on 910AM.