Kirk Lewis, Detroit Deputy Mayor, Resigns In Move To Private Sector

02/20/2013 04:18 pm ET | Updated Apr 22, 2013

Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis will leave City Hall for the private sector, according to a statement issued by Mayor Dave Bing on Wednesday afternoon.

“It has been a special opportunity to perform public service, and hopefully I have been able to contribute to the Mayor’s transformation of Detroit. However, my background and strengths are in the automotive industry and therefore I’m looking forward to returning,” Lewis said in a statement.

Lewis was the former president and CEO of The Bing Group, Dave Bing's auto supplier company before his journey into municipal politics. The two men have been described as close. Lewis had a two decade-long career in the auto industry before taking a job as Bing's chief governmental and corporate affairs officer in 2008. He left Bing's staff in March 2011.

When he returned, it was as chief of staff for the Mayor in June 2011. Bing had asked for the resignation of chief communications officer Karen Dumas, and his then-chief of staff, Shannon Holmes, voluntarily submitted her own.

As chief of staff, he became deputy mayor whenever Mayor Bing traveled or was unable to perform his duties. That included last March, when Bing's emergency perforated intestinal surgery meant that Lewis became deputy mayor and acting mayor.

Lewis leaves just one day after a review team appointed by the state of Michigan issued a report confirming that the city was in a financial emergency and had no working plan to combat the crisis. The extensive review found that Detroit's long-term structural deficit approaches $14 billion. As of February, the budget has a short-term cash crisis of $100 million, and additional deficits this year of $300 million or more.

But even today, hours before sending the statement of Lewis' resignation, Bing issued this statement via email challenging the review team's findings that Detroit had no plan.

"To the contrary, my administration has worked diligently to develop and implement a restructuring plan for the City of Detroit. In fact, our plan was reviewed and accepted by all stakeholders, including the State and the Financial Advisory Board," said Bing in the statement. "We have the plan, but we face significant challenges executing it in a timely manner. We are hindered by several factors, including the City Charter, labor agreements, litigation, governmental structure, and a scarcity of financial and human resources. Further exploration of ways to mitigate these barriers for more timely implementation of my initiatives should be examined."