DETROIT (WWJ) – After spending what will be four years in government, Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh said he’ll be leaving politics and returning to a career in television news.
Speaking live on WWJ Newsradio 950 from the Winter Survival Radiothon for THAW, Pugh said he’s leaving public office because a lot of the time, he feels like his hands are tied.
“It’s frustrating because, you know, you go in with your eyes wide open like ‘I’m going to do this and fix this, this and this’ and they you realize that as a legislator, you really can’t fix it because you’re not the executive, you’re not the decision maker. You can only support the decision-making that goes into fixing those things,” he said.
Pugh, who was an anchor and reporter at FOX 2 News in Detroit before becoming a politician, said he will finish out his Council term before heading back to news reporting.
“There are many ways to serve, you know, elected public office is just one way. I’ve decided that elected public office should have a shelf life, you know, and for some people that’s 30 years, but for me it’s going to be four years,” he said.
Pugh made national headlines when he was elected as the city’s first openly gay Council member, and said he gave some thought to running for mayor of Detroit, especially since poll numbers place him among the top three contenders — but not anymore.
“I think I’ve made up my mind because I know that there are some unique aspects of running for office that I do not like. I don’t like raising money, you know, you have to call people and ask them and I hate, I can’t stand that part of having a political life, is that you have to raise money in order to, you can’t win if you don’t raise the money and I hate calling people and asking for money. So, there are multiple things about it that make me uncomfortable but the answer is ‘No,’” he said.
Despite his desire to leave public office, Pugh said he remains committed to serving citizens in a city that is overwhelmed with problems.
“I’m here and I’m dedicated but it’s heartbreaking when the crime rate, the joblessness rate, the poor delivery of city services because our resources are dwindling, you know, all areas of our revenue are falling and all of our costs are going up,” he said.
And that’s one of the hardest parts about being a Councilman, according to Pugh, because many Detroiters do not really understand that the Council can’t exactly fix all their problems.
“The way most people understand the City Council, they think we have way more power then we do. When their light is out or when there’s an abandoned house next to their home or when the police response is slow, they call City Council. And although we set the budgets for those things, we don’t manage and hire and fire the people who run those departments, nor can we really have a real impact on the daily execution of these city services. So, that being the case, the City Council has way less power than the citizens think we do, or the people who are going in hoping to make significant change in a short amount of time.”