With the Aug. 3 election less than a month away, the Detroit Free Press endorses Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan for a third term, while dissing his most prominent opponents in a field of 10.
A Sunday editorial says:
Even in a more capable field, Duggan’s case for re-election would be a formidable one. The city he presides over in 2021 is palpably more functional than the one he inherited eight years age. More Detroiters enjoy well-lit streets and dependable waste collection, tens of thousands of abandoned structures have been demolished or secured, and bus service is more reliable.
Residential construction has increased sharply during Duggan's eight-year tenure, and property values have risen in most neighborhoods General Motors, Ford and Stellantis have dramatically increased their investments in the city, and years of responsible financial management have secured its release from state oversight. Until the COVID-19 pandemic brought its recovery to a standstill in early 2020, Detroit appeared prepared to resume regular contributions to its two employee pension funds well before the 2023 deadline established when it emerged from bankruptcy. .
The paper's editorial board praises Duggan for his handling of the pandemic, saying he "has always been at his best in a five-alarm crisis. He drew on the deep experience he acquired -- first as the late Wayne County Executive Ed McNamara's long-time field general, then as CEO of the Detroit Medical Center -- to confront the pandemic on multiple fronts."
It defends Duggan when it comes to critics who say he ignores the needs of Detroiters outside of downtown and Midtown.
It also has little good to say about prominent opponents:
Now a principal at Detroit's Marine Adams law firm, [Anthony] Adams boasts more public service experience than any of Duggan's other challengers. But unlike Duggan, who has made a profound impact and attracted talented subordinates in a succession of positions, Adams can point to no significant examples of game-changing leadership. ...
Accountant Tom Barrow, seems even more thoroughly mired in the past. His shopworn accusations -- Detroit's municipal bankruptcy was a "fraud," the state's assumption of responsibility for Belle Isle a "theft," etc. — would be irrelevant even if they were less groundless. And his vision of a Detroit ruled by "real Detroiters" — a designation that excludes many of the city's current residents, including the incumbent mayor — recalls Donald Trump's promise to secure the Americas borders against immigrants and refugees.
The endorsement is not all positive.
After decades in the public eye, Duggan's shortcomings are as well-documented as his achievements. A tireless task-master who values momentum above all else, he has too little regard for the ethical boundaries or transparency voters typically demand of their elected representatives to uphold.
When the Free Press called him to account for steering grant money to a public health initiative run by his future fiancee, he dismissed the inquiry as an invasion of privacy. His administration attempted to circumvent scrutiny of his actions by concealing and deleting public records, an evasion that provided fresh ammunition for those skeptical of Duggan's motives. Allies who supported his demolition program are still waiting to learn exactly how derelict houses "secured" with demo bond money will be rehabilitated and made available to Detroiters eager to acquire them.