Reporting Charlie Langton
DETROIT (Talk Radio 1270) He’s exploring making a run for the mayor’s job in Detroit, and now Mike Duggan says it’s at least partially because he doesn’t feel safe in some parts of the city.
“I’ve worked downtown, in Midtown for 30 years, and the last year is the first time I’ve felt unsafe in the city,” Duggan said. “It’s just the pattern of the different things you’re hearing. I see the crime reports … it started with an increase in car thefts … And it’s escalated.”
He added he wouldn’t fill up his tank on Gratiot in Detroit at night.
“Every Detroiter knows where to go and not go late at night,” he said. “People have their own patterns and most people try to fill up during the day.”
Duggan, chairman of the Detroit Medical Center and a longtime fixture on the metro Detroit political scene, filed paperwork Wednesday to form an exploratory committee that allows him to raise money to run for mayor of Detroit.
He was spurred to run, he said, by the recent wave of violence, the Belle Isle debacle with the tug of war between City Council and state officials who want to make it a park, the consent agreement, and the city’s budget deficit.
“What I have done in my career is build coalitions,” he said, adding he would include the fractured City Council in his coalition to move the city forward.
Duggan, a former prosecutor, lived in suburban Livonia until he moved his official residence to Detroit’s Palmer Woods neighborhood six months ago.
He said the quality of life people have come to expect in Detroit is unacceptable.
“The expectation that people have in really any of the suburban communities and the expectations people would have in Atlanta, Cleveland or Los Angeles are different than Detroit,” Duggan said. “You go to any major city and no one is talking about how difficult it is to get the street lights on. The street lights work.”
And the violence people have come to expect, even in broad daylight and in public places, is also out of hand, Duggan said. For instance, Detroit Councilman Kwame Kenyatta tried to force gas station owners to hire security officers earlier this year in the wake of a string of killings and attacks, including an 86-year-old military vet who was brutally beaten and carjacked at a gas station.
“The kind of violence that we’re seeing — we’re going to have 350 murders in Detroit (this year) — If we had the same murder rate as New York City, we would have 40. What is going on here is not typical of any other large city in America and peoples’ expectations are so beaten down, people think this is just the way things have to be. They don’t have to be like this. The problems were created by human beings, and human beings can solve them.”
So, could a white man lead Detroit? Even though the majority-black city hasn’t elected a white mayor since the 1970s, Duggan thinks it’s possible.
“I’m not running into that (race) issue at all,” Duggan said. “People are not focused on white vs. black, they’re angry at the Kilpatrick administration, the Bing administration, the governor, the county executive, there’s a lot of anger out there … They mostly want to know ‘How is the quality of my life going to change with you as mayor?’ … The whole race issue melts away.”