A former medical center chief has defeated a county sheriff to become the next mayor of financially troubled Detroit.
Unofficial returns showed Mike Duggan leading Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon 55 percent to 45 percent with 99 percent of precincts reporting. Napoleon conceded defeat late Tuesday in a race where he was outspent by Duggan by about 3-to-1 heading into Tuesday’s election.
Both candidates had campaigned that a state-appointed emergency manager should leave the city and allow the new mayor to fix Detroit’s finances when he takes office in January.
But the reality is that Duggan will have little power under emergency manager Kevyn Orr, who filed in July to take Detroit into bankruptcy.
The emergency financial manager filed for bankruptcy in July and says Detroit’s debt is at least $18 billion, much of it for retiree pensions and health benefits.
Detroit has undergone a sharp economic and demographic decline over six-plus decades, with the population falling from 1.8 million in 1950 to just 700,000, largely low-income residents today. That process has been brought about by a mix of global economic forces, political corruption and municipal mismanagement.
Both candidates campaigned on fixing Detroit’s deteriorating neighborhoods and reducing the high crime rate in a city that struggles to respond to 911 calls on time. Detroit has more than 30,000 vacant houses and buildings.
Duggan, an ex-county prosecutor and former chief of the Detroit Medical Center, said he wants to persuade Gov. Rick Snyder to craft a plan to resuscitate the city’s fiscal condition.
Snyder has repeatedly defended his decision to put Orr in the driver’s seat at City Hall.
“Detroit’s fiscal crisis was six decades in the making,” Snyder said in a statement last week. “My job is to make the tough decisions to resolve the problems we face today, not ignore them.”
Current Mayor Dave Bing, a former NBA star with the Detroit Pistons, did not seek reelection.
Duggan will become Detroit’s first white mayor since Roman Gribbs, whose term ended at the end of 1973. The city now is more than 80 percent black.