By Christy Strawser
DETROIT (CBS Detroit) Will he or won’t he? That question has dominated the talk of Detroit City Hall watchers as Mayor Dave Bing waited until the 11th hour to announce whether he’ll seek to preside over one of America’s most troubled towns for another term.
The answer: No, he won’t.
Saying “the change has begun,” Bing held a 15-minute press conference Tuesday, where he tantalized his announcement until the very end. He touted Detroit’s accomplishments since he took office, including Cobo Hall improvements before the latest auto show, adding his goal has always been “improving the quality of life for our residents.”
Bing added he’s forming a committee to explore other opportunities, including running for Wayne County executive.
“We know that we have to make our city safer and provide our citizens with the public services they deserve,” Bing said, adding “change is occurring in our city.”
He said even before appointment of an emergency financial manager, Detroit was “making headway,” toward goals of demolishing vacant buildings, getting payroll in order, making a dent in the city’s debt, getting drugs off the street, turning on street lights, and making recreation centers more available.
“Change takes time and hard work,” he said, discussing Gov. Rick Snyder’s appointment of a financial manager, something he said he disapproved because the city was making progress toward solving its own problems. He added he decided to work with the state-appointed oversight and not against it.
He added: “What matters most to me is giving residents a better Detroit.”
The filing deadline is 4 p.m. Tuesday, and Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon and ex-Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan, and John Telford, former superintendent of Detroit Public Schools, already filing paperwork to run for mayor.
Bing, a 69-year-old professional basketball Hall-of-Famer and ex-steel supply company owner, was elected mayor in 2009. He inherited a budget deficit of more than $300 million.
In March, Detroit became the largest city in the country to fall under state oversight when Gov. Rick Snyder appointed bankruptcy attorney Kevyn Orr as emergency manager. Orr has final say on all city financial matters.
“I spent 46 years of my life supporting this city,” Bing said, adding, “I love the compassion, the tenacity and commitment of Detroiters, that’s why I stayed here and that’s why I ran for mayor … My administration has done a tremendous job of preparing the runway.”
After Bing made it public that he may be interested in the Wayne County Executive gig, the man currently in that position issued a statement.
“Mayor Bing has worked as hard as anyone to help stabilize the city during some very tough times,” Robert Ficano said. “The filing deadline is still a year out and that’s a lot of time before real decisions need to be made. Personally, my focus is on the business of running Wayne County government and that’s where it needs to be between now and next May.”