DETROIT (WWJ) – Don’t count Mike Duggan out of the Detroit mayoral race just yet.
Cynthia J. Pasky, CEO of the Detroit staffing firm Strategic Staffing Solutions, says she plans to write in Duggan’s name on her ballot for the Aug. 6 mayoral primary.
Pasky made the remark Thursday at the Detroit Athletic Club at “Pancakes and Politics,” a public issues forum sponsored by the Michigan Chronicle and its parent company, Real Times Media.
When asked after the panel discussion whether her statement meant she would lead a write-in campaign for Duggan, Pasky said, “I think I just did.”
Pasky said that if Duggan got enough votes Aug. 6 to earn a spot in the November election, his name would be on the November ballot whatever the courts might say.
“That’s what this is supposed to be about— the voice of the voters,” Pasky said.
The Michigan Appeals Court ruled that Duggan turned in his petitions too early, and was therefore not a citizen of Detroit for one year at the time of filing as is required by the city charter.
Pasky’s comments came after Duggan himself officially announced an end to his mayoral run. Speaking to supporters and the media on Wednesday, Duggan said he did not plan to appeal the court’s ruling or to run a write-in campaign.
Pasky was joined on the DAC dais for a “CEO Roundtable” with Nancy Schlichting, CEO of the Henry Ford Health System, William F. Pickard, CEO of Global Automotive, and Bud Denker, chairman of the Detroit Grand Prix and senior vice president of Penske Corp.
All four said the city of Detroit is doing better than the national media gives it credit for, and all said business needs to get more involved in education.
“Every business in this room ought to be hiring summer interns,” Pasky said. Schlichting agreed, saying internships and co-op jobs give students a “line of sight” through which they can connect what they’re studying directly to a career. Henry Ford currently partners with the Dearborn Public Schools and Henry Ford Community College on an “early college” program through which students can earn associate’s degrees in health-related fields just one year past high school.
Pickard said that “like any rational person I would like to pay lower taxes,” but said he’d support higher taxes to fund a Kalamazoo Promise-style education guarantee for Detroit high school graduates.
When asked their biggest challenges, Schlichting said it was the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Pickard said it was managing growth again in ways that don’t “go back to the excesses we saw years ago” that led to economic collapse, Pasky said it was the need for the area economy to create a range of jobs, including those that don’t require a traditional college degree, and Denker aid it was “managing the $20 billion global business that Roger (Penske) put together.”
As for Detroit’s current problems, Schlichting said, “We’ve had a series of challenges here in Detroit over the past 10 years, and frankly over the past 10 years I’ve chosen to ignore it. Because if I’d paid attention to them, we wouldn’t have done half the things we’ve done.”
Added Pickard: “I always tell people, for God’s sake, don’t believe what you see on national TV. We have challenges, but this region has always responded.”
And Denker said, “If you look at what the headlines were five years ago and what the headlines are today, you’ll see we’ve done a hell of a lot of work.”
And Pasky disputed talk of a “talent disconnect.”
“I don’t think there’s a disconnect,” she said. “Across the country we could produce 100,000 people in IT and put them to work immediately, but we always find what we need in Michigan. The real disconnect is between the job market and that 50-year-old laid off from that great job on the line. I think Andra Rush (CEO of Rush Trucking Corp., Detroit Manufacturing Systems and Dakkota Integrated Systems) has proven that if we could get production lines back, the number of people who would queue up would be amazing. People in Detroit want to work.”
And while she said Obamacare is a challenge, Schlichting also said she thought America should move to universal health care coverage.
“I can’t understand why the richest country in the world, the most developed country in the world, doesn’t provide health care for its citizens,” Schlichting said. “We see the uninsured,” she said, adding that the vast majority of them work.
Schlicting said universal health care coverage “would be good for business,” because under the current system, “we pass the cost of the uninsured on to business.”
Panelists also agreed it wouldn’t be long until a woman takes a top position at one of the Detroit automakers. They’re already in positions of influence, Pasky said.
“As a woman I would much rather be in a position of influence rather than power,” she said. “I think power is a real nebulous term, but with influence you can get something done.”
Work-life balance remains a problem for woman — and, Schlichting said, increasingly for men, too.
“I did not have children in my life until I was 51 years old, and I am not sure I could have had the career I’ve had if I had to balance children earlier,” she said.
Today, Schlichting said, she knows several women with high-powered careers who have stay-at-home husbands with primary child-rearing responsibility.