Back From Bankruptcy and Better than Ever? The Detroit Mayoral Race

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Picture Credit: Positively Detroit

It’s time to elect a new Mayor and City Council in Detroit, one of the largest cities hosting key municipal elections during the 2017 off-year. The Motor City elected their previous city council and mayor shortly after Kevyn Orr was appointed emergency manager during the city’s bankruptcy proceedings in 2013. That will all change next week, when Detroit will hold its first municipal elections (primaries, then general, of course) since Orr’s tenure ended following the city’s bankruptcy filing.

The election is widely seen as a referendum on Detroit’s progress since their debt restructuring. Incumbent Mayor Mike Duggan holds a significant advantage in the race. A poll out this week, surveying likely voters, has him beating out the next closest candidate, Coleman Young II, by 34 points (64 to 30%), with most of those surveyed also agreeing that Detroit has benefited “somewhat” (52%) or “a lot” (14%) in the previous four years.

Since declaring his candidacy, Duggan has raised $1.6 million, dwarfing his challengers. Young, son of the city’s first African-American Mayor Coleman A. Young, believes his name recognition and Detroit roots will serve as more useful assets than the heavy purse of the incumbent mayor.

Race Details: The nonpartisan primary will take place on Tuesday, August 8th with six other candidates joining the frontrunners mentioned above. All candidates will be listed on the ballot, regardless of political party. The leading two vote-getters will advance to the general election on November 8th. We preview the candidates below:

Candidate Name: Donna Marie Pitts

Party Affiliation: Non-affiliated

Education: Associate Degree in Business Management, 120 credits at University of Michigan-Dearborn

Career History: Owner, dog grooming business

Campaign Themes: Pitt, who has herself been incarcerated, has made crime a major campaign theme. She hopes to “getting it down to 0.” She also plans to improve the city’s criminal justice system. She advocates for vocational training in high schools, and would like a “new” school system.

Endorsements: None

Candidate Name: Danetta L. Simpson

Party Affiliation: Non-affiliated

Campaign Themes: A member of the “Non-Affiliation Party of Michigan”, Simpson hopes to replace the “old with the new,” and has argued that blight and crime must be addressed, immediately. She advocates for gun control, lower insurance costs, and smaller class sizes in public schools.

Endorsements: None

Candidate Name: Angelo Brown

Party Affiliation: Non-affiliated

Education: Wayne County Community College, University of Phoenix

Career: Former pastor, currently works as a notary public

Campaign Themes: Brown believes neighborhoods have been “abandoned.” He hopes to set up workshops throughout the city dealing with anger management, addiction, and other mental issues. Brown hopes to engage community members for input and support. This is Brown’s sixth time running for mayor.

Endorsements: None

Candidate Name: Mike Duggan, Incumbent

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Education: University of Michigan (B.A.) (J.D.)

Campaign Themes: Duggan says he has made his last term all about improving “city services,” by handling neighborhood blight, improving public transit, and making sure basic utilities are provided to all. He believes in his partnerships with unions, the governor, and the city council will allow Detroit to become the “place to be” in the future.

Endorsements: Detroit Free PressAFSCME Michigan Council 25Detroit NewsMetro Detroit AFL-CIOCongressman John Conyers, 100+ faith leaders

Candidate Name: Edward Dean

Party Affiliation: Non-affiliated

Education: Wayne State Community College (Associate Degree), Wayne State University

Career: CEO of Avengers Youth Mentoring Organization

Campaign Themes: Dean is running to “restore the spirit of Detroit.” His priorities include vocational training to promote economic development, as well as small business support. He hopes to address the preponderance of vacant lots in the city by easing building codes, and lowering bidding floors to promote purchasing and development of land.

Endorsements: None

Candidate Name: Curtis Christopher Greene

Party Affiliation: Non-affiliated

Campaign Themes: Greene has a “7-point” plan for Detroit. His priorities include working with state legislators to “end discriminatory housing practices,” and putting forth a “halo incentive” to help former criminals find employment following their incarceration.

Endorsements: None

Candidate Name: Coleman A. Young II

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Education: Wayne State University

Career: State Senator, Michigan 1st District

Campaign Themes: Young plans to restore Detroit by reducing crime, reinstating city pensions altered following the 2014 bankruptcy, and piloting a personal rapid transit system that would put Detroit at the forefront of driverless transit. Young hopes to handle Detroit’s violence issues through partnerships with local hospitals, and job training centers, while opening mini-police stations throughout the city. Young also has plans to reduce the high auto insurance premiums imposed on city residents.

Endorsements: Detroit Democratic Club

Candidate Name: Articia Bomer

Party Affiliation: Non-affiliated

Career: Chrysler Shift Leader, UAW Member

Campaign Themes: Bomer is running for mayor to “save Detroit.” She hopes to make it a great place to live in all stages of life. She plans to focus on crime, affordable housing, and education. Bomer has plans to crack down on drugs, improve gun control, and ensure police accountability.

Endorsements: None

Those are your candidates. Stay tuned for our How to Vote Guide later this week.

BallotReady is the only nonpartisan online voter guide that provides personalized, easy-to-use, and accessible information about your ballot. From the top of the ticket to the very bottom, BallotReady helps voters compare candidates based on stances on issues, biography, and endorsements. We make it easy to vote informed on every race and referendum.

By Sam Barder