DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan was a featured speaker at this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference, while one of his challengers in the race for the city’s top job was a no-show.
Speaking with WWJ’s Vickie Thomas, mayoral hopeful State Senator Coleman A. Young II explained why he skipped the three-day event.
“I just think there’s too many people who are hurting right now for me to be up there, you know, singing karaoke and eating caviar and drinking champagne or schmoozing, or whatever goes on up there,” Young said.
While the annual conference — hosted by the Detroit Regional Chamber on Mackinac Island — has been panned by some over the years as a self-indulgent waste of time and resources, others maintain it’s a great way for the state’s business and political leaders to gather and discuss important issues in the state.
The 34-year-old Young, who has served as a state representative and was elected in 2010 to the Michigan Senate, is the son of Detroit’s first black mayor, the late Coleman A. Young.
Detroit political consultant Sam Riddle says while the incumbent Duggan clearly has the advantage, the city’s residents are far from satisfied.
“The majority of Detroit right now is in a state of despair and hopelessness and no dollars are flowing its way,” Riddle said. “And in an election year this Mayor Duggan from fantasy island is trying to convince people even that joblessness is not an issue.”
Speaking on Mackinac Wednesday, Duggan touted job growth in the city, saying the unemployment rate recorded in April was the lowest it has been since May of 2001.
Duggan said there’s still a lot of work to do, including raising residents’ ski;;s so that the jobs coming back to the city can be filled by Detroiters. Also, as part of an eight-point plan, Duggan said the city will fight economic segregation by pushing jobs into neighborhoods.