Editorial: Detroit poised to exploit opportunities
If any elected official ever had a mandate at the start of a new term in office, it has to be Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. The mayor won re-election Tuesday in an epic landslide, capturing roughly 72 percent of the vote.
The lopsided victory over state Sen. Coleman Young II is a solid affirmation of the mayor’s first term performance, as well as an endorsement for his vision of the city’s future.
That level of support comes with a responsibility not to squander the opportunity it presents. And this is an era of great opportunity in Detroit.
Downtown’s comeback has momentum that feels assured for the long term. Investors are plentiful, and there is barely enough available space to meet the demand for new residents and businesses.
The next frontier for investors and entrepreneurs is the city’s neighborhoods.
Already, philanthropic dollars are shifting away from downtown and into neighborhood redevelopment projects. Duggan launched an initiative to fix the streets and sidewalks along the city’s commercial strips, many of which have been long abandoned.
Neighborhoods will best come back the way downtown did: With private investors answering the demand of new residents and businesses. While the city must be a full partner in the redevelopment, it is best sustained when private investors have their dollars at risk.
The city can best encourage and protect those private investments by doing the job it is assigned: Provide excellent services.
That includes public safety. The mayor should make the top priority of his second term curing Detroit of its violent crime epidemic. When he was Wayne County prosecutor, Duggan made inroads on gun violence by aggressively prosecuting those who use guns to commit a crime, and by working to get illegal firearms out of circulation.
He should expand those crime-fighting efforts in Detroit. There will be no more important second term goal for Duggan than finally cracking the issue of safety.
The mayor will have a new council member to work with who has some expertise in crime-fighting. Roy McCalister, a former homicide detective, will join the council in January following his victory in the 2nd District. He will be a welcome addition to city government.
The choice of McCalister over former Sen. Virgil Smith, a felon, for the open seat follows a pattern by Detroit voters in recent elections. They have done a solid job with their picks, building a competent city council and putting in place the best school board the district has seen in decades.
Leadership matters, and Detroit now has the leaders it needs to complement the private sector efforts to rejuvenate the city. Duggan has the solid backing of his constituents. That should translate into broad support for his strategy to spread the comeback citywide.