There has never been a more unusual, a more challenging, or even a more scary time to be a Detroiter than right now.
We are a city with an emergency manager who is, in essence, running the show, forcing the mayor and everyone else previously in power to take back seats.
A city that, despite a resilience that has been proven repeatedly, finds itself in chapter 9 bankruptcy. How embarrassing is that! Not many among us could have ever imagined such a thing happening.
How many cities have an incarcerated former mayor?
This is the city that is synonymous with cars and, in fact, put the nation on wheels. Also the city that is world renowned for some of the greatest and most enduring music the world has ever known.
But the Motor/Music City is also famous for its shamefully high crime rate, good neighborhoods gone bad, poorly performing schools, and on it goes.
But something very different is going to develop and emerge from all this. The fact that Mike Duggan, a White man, was the top vote getter in the Primary Election, with the Black favorite coming in second, speaks volumes — and in a city that is approximately 85 percent Black.
What it says is that Detroiters have had enough, they are tired of the same old thing, disgusted with poorly behaving public officials, sick of robberies, infuriated by car theft and through-the-roof insurance rates, angered by gun-toting young hoodlums, disappointed about having so many street lights that don’t work, angered by basic city services lacking, unable to believe why things progress so slowly, and let’s not forget being tired of being the brunt of mean-spirited, most often unfair jokes.
The people are fed up with being fed up!
There are those who will make an issue of Mike Duggan’s race — some will even sarcastically refer to him as “a White savior” — but the truth is, this is not about race. It is about having someone in the city’s top office who can bring about real and lasting change. What worked before will clearly not work now.
In essence, people are more than willing to try something new. The next mayor could be White, Black, Hispanic, Asian or anything else. Just so he is a person of integrity, and someone who has a lot of things to bring to the table that are unprecedented.
At this juncture it cannot be any other way.
Detroit has long been “a tale of two cities.” One is new developments, new hopes, incredible plans for the future, residents who love the city and are determined to see it survive and thrive. The other is beleaguered and sometimes seemingly in danger of not making it.
But Detroit will make it. It always does. And it is the belief of this writer that both of the mayoral candidates — Benny Napoleon and Mike Duggan — care deeply about the city. It is a love that bodes well for Detroit’s future, no matter who the winner is in November.
Despite the challenges, there is excitement in the air.