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NOLAN FINLEY

Editor’s Note: Pugh had potential to lead city

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

Charles Pugh becomes the latest former Detroit public official to end up in a jail cell, and yet another tragic example of wasted potential.

The former City Council president and broadcast journalist is going to jail for 5 1/2 to 14 years after pleading guilty to having sex a decade ago with a 14-year-old boy.

Pugh now wears the label sexual predator.

But not long ago he was considered a rising leader in Detroit, a talented and dedicated politician who had sacrificed a lucrative TV career to help rebuild his hometown.

I remember Pugh as an exceptionally bright, natural politician. People warmed to him, trusted him. He always impressed me as a reasonable, mature voice on a council that was mostly clownish and chaotic.

When he came into my office to discuss an issue, he was persuasive and confident. He was willing to take unpopular stands for the good of the city.

And then he just disappeared, re-emerging after several months to face multiple charges of child molestation.

Pugh joins disgraced Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who when he fell took down a generation of promising young Detroit leaders.

Pugh could have done something meaningful for Detroit. He could have been an important voice for a city that has been too short of dynamic leaders. He might have been mayor someday.

But like Kilpatrick, his considerable potential drowned in his own unchecked appetites. Too bad.