(WWJ) Less than two weeks away from Election Day, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and state senator Coleman Young II faced off for their one and only debate.
It was eventful.
“I’m running to be your next mayor because everywhere my opponent has been there’s been a criminal investigation — whether he was at DMC, whether he was at DPS, whether he was at Wayne County and now with the city,” Young said in his opening remarks.
And he said this: “Let’s take back the motherland.”
Many considered that a not-even-thinly veiled reference to race. Duggan is the first white Detroit mayor since 1970; Young is black, the biological son of famed Detroit mayor Coleman Young, who served 1973-1994. Young had to be sued in 1989 to acknowledge the paternity of Young II, who was born Joel Loving and later changed his name to reflect his paternity.
Young also repeated allegations of bid rigging against Duggan, which the mayor has denied.
“You know, you don’t have the slightest bit of shame,” Duggan told Young. “I never met with any contractors, I never did any such thing and there was never any criminal investigation at DMC and you should stop impugning the people there.”
Young also laid into Duggan about crime prevention, which he called “incompetence on parade.”
“Violent crimes have gone up 15.7 percent, whatever he’s talking about doing is not working,” Young said.
Duggan countered that the city has deployed officers to cut the response time and turn what was zones of danger into zones of safety. Citing an expanded green light program, Duggan said progress is being made. Violent crime has been cut in half in 200 areas of the city, he said.
Young told the story that’s been told many times before about the “two cities” in Detroit — those for the privileged, who have been able to take advantage of business investment with great jobs and new or refurbished housing — and the rest of town. “It’s the best of times for those who are privileged and the worst of times for those who are not,” Young said.
Duggan called it “a bunch of trumped of charges from a candidate with not a single plan of his own.”
The sparring pair agreed on only one thing: The need for auto insurance reform in Detroit.