Dr. Charles G. Adams is pastor of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church.

In a Detroit News editorial by Rev. Dr. Jim Holley, he asserts that many Detroit pastors have denied mayoral candidate Mike Duggan the opportunity to speak in their churches, making the claim that this is based on Duggan being a White candidate opposing Benny Napoleon, a Black candidate.

I am compelled to strongly dispute this assertion. Detroit is in serious trouble and currently operating under an emergency manager, Kevyn Orr (who happens to be African American), appointed by Gov. Snyder. All Detroiters want is a positive outcome to our difficulties and leadership that is responsive to the city we live, work and pay taxes in.

To insert race into our situation is an affront to Detroiters, who have remained committed to a city conventional wisdom gave up on years ago. The Detroit Free Press published an outstanding study on the 60 years of Detroit’s fiscal decline. It was a major surprise that the most fiscal mayor during that period was none other than Coleman A. Young.

The four mayors that preceded him played major roles in the city’s financial fall. This current election is far too important to make a decision based on race. We the city residents want full scrutiny of both candidates.

For the record, Hartford Memorial Baptist Church has extended the invitation to Mike Duggan at least three times. He had accepted our invitation to attend the Annual 4th of July Picnic Celebration held on the church grounds with hundreds in attendance. As late as the Saturday evening prior to the picnic we were assured that he would appear.

The event was held but candidate Duggan chose not to come. Subsequently his operatives have asked if he could attend services at Hartford. Our answer was the same as to all other political candidates: “You are welcome to any service at our church and will be acknowledged from the pulpit.”

The offer was extended to include the breakfast hour between services where he could greet parishioners informally. For whatever reason, the candidate has declined the open invitation. Through the years Hartford has welcomed people of all faiths, creeds and colors to our services and events. Ours is a highly intelligent congregation inclusive of all persuasions. They look to Hartford for balanced information and I would not presume to dictate how they should vote.

As part of Hartford’s Social Justice Weekend we are inviting candidates Mike Duggan and Benny Napoleon to participate in a forum and question and answer period on Sunday, Oct. 27, from 9:30 to 10:30 am.

This is between our early service and late service to encourage attendees from both to have full participation. Our members and friends have appreciated having clear information on candidates and issues. Many have voiced concern that the mass media has not provided balanced and fair information on both candidates. The stories have been heavily weighted in favor of Mike Duggan. Without a doubt his campaign has financial resources that allow greater exposure.

The problems of Detroit deserve and should demand factual information on the real accomplishments of both candidates, not 30 seconds spots on DMC, now under new ownership. Why is there little coverage or acknowledgement of the tether program initiated by Napoleon and the $22 million it saved the county?

Dr. Holly wants to simplify the situation to a question of race. Detroit churches and pastors want to see solutions that involve all Detroiters and look to a candidate with integrity, competence, and a passionate commitment to a better Detroit for all.

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