Former businessman and political bulldog Mike Duggan, campaigning as the person most capable of leading a bankrupt Detroit back from the brink, was projected Tuesday night as Detroit's new mayor.
With 88 percent of precincts reporting at 10:50 p.m., the raw vote count showed Duggan leading 56 percent to 44 percent, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Duggan overcame perceptions of a racial divide -- and being kicked off the ballot in the primary election -- to beat Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.
He'll be the first white mayor
to lead the city in 40 years.
About 82 percent of Detroit residents are black, but Duggan's history of success turning around struggling organizations won over even the leader of Detroit's Black Panther Party, mlive.com
“His message of change resonated across racial lines, much the same as President Barack Obama did,” Steve Hood, a political pollster, told the Free Press.
Duggan is a former county prosecutor who went on to lead the Detroit Medical Center and SMART suburban bus system, engineering financial comebacks in both organizations, mlive.com noted.
He only moved into the city last year, a fact Napoleon noted at every opportunity.
The sheriff had union support and toured the city with a "one-square-mile" plan to assign an officer to every square mile of the city, along with an economic development plan that involved luring investors to build neighborhood shopping centers in seven districts.
But Duggan proposed a plan to quickly seize and sell abandoned homes, of which the the city has thousands upon thousands, resonated, mlive.com noted.
Duggan at one point gave up on the race and went on vacation after being kicked off the primary ballot, but was convinced by supporters to run as a write-in candidate.
His name wasn't allowed on the ballot because he filed his petition signatures too early, technically violating the city charter.
Lisa Howze, a former state representative who ran for mayor in the primary and later endorsed Duggan, noted his "laser focus, his ability to stay focused to the task, no matter what the obstacles are."
"He has the ability to bounce back," she told mlive.com, "48,000 people wrote his name in for the mayor of the city of Detroit in August."
The new mayor will take office in January, but will remain under the shadow of an emergency manager.
Duggan has said he'll cooperate as necessary with Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, who was appointed to take over city government in March, but also plans to try to convince the governor to remove Orr in favor of his own restructuring efforts, mlive.com reported.
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