DETROIT -- Detroit's next mayor will inherit a city low on cash and an office low on power, yet nearly two dozen candidates are seeking the job anyway.
In announcing he won't seek a second term, Mayor Dave Bing slammed Michigan officials for ceding most of his power to an emergency manager who currently controls almost every aspect of City Hall, from spending to hiring.
That arrangement, coupled with a stubbornly high crime rate, blighted neighborhoods and a financial crisis that has pushed Detroit toward bankruptcy, raised an obvious question: Who really would want this job? The answer: the largest field of mayoral candidates in nearly two decades.
Twenty-two people filed to run for the seat Bing will depart in December. Among them are a high-profile sheriff, the former CEO of Detroit Medical Center, several current or former state lawmakers and a perennial candidate who narrowly lost to Bing four years ago.
"My commitment to the city of Detroit and running for office of mayor has been unwavering since the beginning," said former state Rep. Lisa Howze, who announced more than a year ago that she was running for mayor. "Nothing has changed, even with the appointment of an emergency manager."
Kevyn Orr is just seven weeks into his job as emergency manager, which gives him authority to balance city books, sell off assets, hire staff and make every decision involving Detroit's finances.
In some ways, Orr's presence could reduce pressure on the next mayor, said T.J. Bucholz, public affairs director at Lansing-based Lambert, Edwards & Associates public relations firm.
If Orr is successful, the new mayor inherits a more fiscally stable city. If the emergency manager fails, "there is no one they can blame," Bucholz said of Orr and Gov. Rick Snyder, who hired him. "They are left to their own devices to a degree."
Orr was hired by the state in March after Snyder deemed Bing's pace was too slow. Under state law, Orr has 18 months – or until late September 2014 – on the job before financial control reverts back to the mayor and City Council.
That means the next mayor will get a respite of sorts from tackling Detroit's runaway budget deficit that's fast approaching $380 million, more than $14 billion in debt and the specter of bankruptcy. All that's on Orr's plate.
"An emergency manager could clear the slate for a new mayor, with all the heavy-duty work already done," said Ken Cockrel, Jr., a former mayor and current city councilman who is not seeking re-election.
Other top candidates in the nonpartisan primary include Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, former Detroit Medical Center chief Mike Duggan, accountant Tom Barrow, and state Reps. John Olumba and Fred Durhal Jr.
Napoleon, who like most of the candidates is critical of the emergency manager appointment, said he is waiting to see if the move even survives a court challenge.
"If Kevyn Orr's job is finances, then he should stick to fixing the finances," said Napoleon, who also served as Detroit's police chief. "Operations should go to the mayor elected by the people."
Barrow, making his fourth run at Detroit mayor, pledged to provide advice should Orr seek it but won't "be carrying anybody's water."
"After he's gone, I will seize control and run (the city) in a manner I see fit that's best for the citizens of Detroit," said Barrow, who unsuccessfully challenged Coleman A. Young for mayor in 1985 and 1989, before losing to Bing in a close race four years ago.
He worries that in Orr's quest to save money and raise revenues the emergency manager will look to selling off or privatizing Detroit's water, transportation and lighting departments. Belle Isle, a popular island park in the middle of the Detroit River, also could be taken from the city's hands.
"I don't see him doing things that are beneficial in terms of bringing services. That's not what he's here for," Barrow said.
Former state Rep. <a href="http://votelisahowze.com/site/">Lisa Howze</a> is a lifelong Detroiter with a background in accounting. She declared her candidacy for mayor in 2012. Her platform is focused on public safety, better city management and improving Detroit's economy. During her time in the state House, she was a primary sponsor of the successfully passed <a href="http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(hd013z45wdrxqrq1zs4v5455))/mileg.aspx?page=GetObject&objectName=2011-HB-4596">House Bill 4596</a>, which forbids faulty credit information from being used to determine insurance rates. Howze also voted against the former emergency manager law, Public Act 4. She has disputed claims by Gov. Snyder's Detroit Financial Review board that total the city's long term debt at $14 billion. Howze places the city's <a href="http://www.freep.com/article/20130227/NEWS01/130227060/Lisa-Howze-Detroit-mayor-candidate-says-city-s-debt-is-manageable-without-EFM">short-term financial liabilities at around $2 billion</a>, according to the Detroit Free Press, and says they can be managed without the appointment of an emergency manager. Howze holds a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business in 1995, as well as a Master’s in Finance degree from Walsh College. She's also a certified public accountant with over 18 years of experience.
Fred Durhal Jr.
<a href="http://www.durhalformayor.com/">Fred Durhal Jr.</a>, a second-term state representative, announced his candidacy in November 2012. He serves <a href="http://005.housedems.com/">Detroit's 5th district</a> and sits on Michigan's House Appropriations Committee. If elected as Detroit's mayor, Durhal says he would begin his term by concentrating on financial stability, public safety, community and economic development, education, training and job development. The state representative is a native of Rochester, New York, but moved to Detroit with his family at a very young age. He holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Wayne State University. Durhal has a long record of public service that includes working as an assistant to former Detroit Mayor Coleman and serving as the first African-American political organizing director for the Michigan Democratic Party.
<a href="http://www.krystalcrittendon.com/">Krystal Crittendon</a> served as Corporation Counsel for the City of Detroit's Law Department from 2009 to 2013. She was dismissed from that position as the city's top lawyer in a <a href="financial stability agreement">City Council vote</a> that upheld a decision by Mayor Dave Bing in January. She attracted the mayor's ire by issuing an ultimately unsuccessful legal challenge to the city's financial stability agreement with the state of Michigan. During the current mayor's race, she has strongly opposed a state review team's report that determined there was financial emergency in Detroit. "It is flawed in many respects. Reading it, I don't know how anyone can recommend an emergency manager. There seems to be a basic fundamental misunderstanding of how city government is actually structured," she told The Huffington Post. As mayor, Crittendon says she would address the city's financial problems by collecting money owed by larger companies and businesses like income taxes, property taxes and other fees. If elected, she has promised to negotiate in good faith with city unions. Her priorities include public safety, transportation and streamlining city processes. A native of Detroit, she <a href="http://www.freep.com/article/20130131/NEWS01/130131083/Krystal-Crittendon-kicks-off-campaign-Detroit-mayor-rally">graduated from Wayne State University</a> and the Detroit College of Law, according to The Detroit Free Press. During her time with the City of Detroit, she rose through the ranks from staff attorney all the way to Corporation Counsel.
Mike Duggan: OFF THE BALLOT As Of June 11, 2013
Mike Duggan was determined ineligible to run as a candidate in Detroit's mayoral race on June 11, 2013. <em>Earlier..</em> If elected, <a href="http://www.dugganfordetroit.com/">Mike Duggan</a>, a former president and CEO of the Detroit Medical Center, would be the first white mayor of Detroit since Roman Gribbs was elected in 1969. Although the former DMC head had been hinting at a mayoral run for some time, he didn't formally announce his candidacy until late February of 2013. He's running under the slogan, "Every neighborhood has a future." He touts his financial know-how and economic development and public safety experience as reasons voters should choose him for mayor. Along with other candidates he's also been highly critical of the anticipated appointment of an emergency manager to run Detroit. "For the last 237 years in America we’ve had traditions for dealing with <a href="http://www.freep.com/article/20130222/OPINION05/130222046/Mike-Duggan-An-emergency-manager-won-t-lead-to-a-strong-prosperous-Detroit">failing leaders</a> — they’re called elections," he stated in a recent Detroit Free Press opinion column. As DMC's chief from 2003 to 2011, Duggan helped stabilize its finances and presided over the sale of the then non-profit medical system to the <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126283823&ft=1&f=1001">private-sector company Vanguard Health Systems</a>. He has considerable experience in public service, serving as Wayne County Prosecutor from 2001 to 2003, and before that, as Deputy Wayne County Executive under Ed McNamara and general manager for the suburban SMART bus system. Duggan graduated from Detroit Catholic Central and holds undergraduate and law school degrees from the University of Michigan. Despite his experience in Detroit-area politics, Duggan has drawn flak during the mayor's race from some who have labeled him an outsider. His decision to move to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/02/benny-napoleon-mike-duggan-detroit-mayor-palmer-woods_n_2398303.html">Detroit's Palmer Woods neighborhood</a> from the suburban city of Livonia even became the focus of a flap with potential rival Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.
Mayor Dave Bing
Dave Bing was elected as Mayor of Detroit during a special 2009 election and later went on to win the position in a general election. On May 14, 2013, he announced he would not run for reelection. During his time in office, he has overseen the development of the monumental <a href="http://detroitworksproject.com/for-detroit-to-work-we-need-action-today/">Detroit Future City</a> strategic framework, a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/09/detroit-future-city-detroit-works-project_n_2436626.html">50-year vision plan for the city</a> put together by his <a href="http://detroitworksproject.com/">Detroit Works</a> think tank. In addition, he's presided over the city during a time of severe financial turmoil, which he has cited in defense of his decision to make <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/23/detroit-budget-mayor-dave-bing-2500-layoffs_n_1446097.html">drastic budget cuts</a> to public safety, transportation, recreation and other city services. His administration has also seen a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/04/detroit-administration-turnover-bing-firings-resignations_n_1941054.html">high rate of turnover</a> for city officials. A native of Washington DC, Bing holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Syracuse University, as well as an honorary Doctorate of Laws. A former pro basketball player, the mayor first came to Detroit in 1966, when he was drafted by the Pistons. After spending 12 years in the NBA, Bing later became involved in the business world, founding an automotive supply company called the Bing Group in 1980. He served as president and chair until April 2009.
<a href="http://www.bennynapoleon.com/">Benny Napoleon</a> is Wayne County Sheriff and a former Chief of Police in Detroit. Crime and addressing the city's financial issues have been cited as his top priorities as a candidate. He's also come out against the appointment of an emergency financial manager to Detroit and has expressed doubts about the declaration of a "financial emergency." "I have serious questions about veracity of <a href="https://twitter.com/BennyNapoleon/status/307915410530000897">state review team’s report</a> that appears to overstated city’s long-term debt," he said in a March 2 tweet. Born and raised in Detroit, Napoleon was recruited to Detroit's police academy in 1975 and quickly rose through the ranks. In 1998, he was appointed as the city's police chief. Michigan Radio reports that violent crime <a href="http://www.michiganradio.org/post/commentary-benny-napoleon-crime-and-detroit">fell by 30 percent </a>during his time heading the department before retiring in 2001. But his time as DPD chief was not without controversy. An investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, launched in 2000, resulted in a <a href="http://www.detroitmi.gov/DepartmentsandAgencies/PoliceDepartment/OfficeofCivilRights/ConsentDecreesQA.aspx">federal consent decree</a> over the Detroit Police Department's use of force and other practices. Napoleon holds an associate's degree in law enforcement and a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Mercy College and a law degree from the Detroit College of Law. During the current mayoral race, Napoleon has traded barbs with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/02/benny-napoleon-mike-duggan-detroit-mayor-palmer-woods_n_2398303.html">candidate Mike Duggan</a> over the former DMC chief's decision to relocate from the suburban city of Livonia to Detroit's affluent Palmer Park neighborhood.
Tom Barrow ran against Detroit Mayor Dave Bing in the city's 2009 mayoral election and is a candidate in the 2013 race. Jobs, financial stability, protecting the city's assets and establishing family safety zones with a heightened police presence were among Barrow's priorities during <a href="http://www.anewvisionfordetroit.com/">his previous mayoral campaign</a>. He also challenged the election results of that race, alleging <a href="http://blogs.metrotimes.com/index.php/2010/01/barrow-seeks-investigation-into-handling-of-election/">vote tampering</a> and pushing for a criminal investigation, according to the Metro Times. More recently, Barrow has criticized Gov. Rick Snyder's expected appointment of an emergency manager to Detroit, which he has called a "throwback to Jim Crow." In an interview with The Huffington Post, Barrow, a certified public accountant, disputed the findings of the state's emergency review board, saying they had used "<a href="http://huff.to/WtAK6Z">phony financial data</a>" in order to declare a financial emergency in the city that he believes would be used by the state to take control of city assets. Barrow was born in Detroit and graduated from Wayne State University with a bachelor's of science degree with a concentration in accounting. He worked at the Arthur Andersen accounting firm before later starting his own public accounting company Barrow, Aldridge & Co. In 1994, Barrow was found guilty of bank fraud and tax evasion in U.S. District Court. He has challenged the conviction, but a <a href="http://www.freep.com/article/20120112/NEWS01/120112014/Federal-appeals-court-refuses-to-vacate-convictions-of-former-Detroit-mayoral-candidate-Tom-Barrow">federal appeals court</a> in 2012 refused to clear his record, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Mark Murphy Jr.
<a href="http://www.votem3.com/">Mark Murphy Jr.</a> is a community advocate who says he has a 500-day plan to improve the City of Detroit. His priorities as mayor would include streamlining city operations, neighborhood cleanup, acquiring new emergency equipment and streetlights, taking care of abandoned structures and beginning citywide bulk monthly trash pick-up and recycling programs. Murphy believes the city's budget issues could be partially addressed by encouraging <a href="http://huff.to/Z2McBf">city-facilitated volunteerism</a>. He sees himself as a grassroots candidate. "I'm actually out here in the city -- actually on the ground in the city," he told The Huffington Post. "I walk the neighborhoods. I walk through the alleyways. Other people in the city should relate to me, compared to some of the others [who] have been entrenched in professional political positions." Murphy grew up in Southwest Detroit and graduated with honors from Charlotte Forten Academy in early 2004. In 2009, he ran as a candidate for Detroit City Council. His professional background is in landscaping and property cleanup.
Geoffrey Fieger is perhaps the most well-known attorney in Southeast Michigan. He became famous as a defender of euthanasia activist Dr. Jack Kevorkian during the 1990s. He's expressed interest in Detroit's mayoral race, telling radio host Charlie Langton in 2012 that he might <a href="http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2012/06/after_calling_out_white_brethe.html">run against Mayor Dave Bing</a>, depending on who else enters the race. If he did, it certainly wouldn't be Fieger's first high profile political campaign. He ran -- unsuccessfully -- as the 1998 Democratic gubernatorial nominee against former Michigan <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1998-08-06/news/9808060132_1_john-engler-geoffrey-fieger-races">Gov. John Engler</a>. Fieger holds two degrees from the University of Michigan, as well as a <a href="http://www.fiegerlaw.com/GeoffreyFieger.php">law degree</a> from the Detroit College of Law/Michigan State University. He belongs to the Michigan and Florida Bar Associations.
Candidate <a href="http://andraetownsel.com/">Andrae Townsel</a> is a native Detroiter who's been away. He's been in Washington D.C., pursuing an education and working as a school administrator, but he says Detroit hasn't been far from his thoughts. "Instead of running away from the city, I want to come back and offer my talents and resources I've developed while away," he told The Huffington Post in an interview last year. "I have the perspective of being an insider from Detroit and the outsider of being away while studying. I think I have the resources from the people I met out here, I can bring those resources back to the city as well as what the city already has to offer." Like many of the other candidates Townsel's opposed to the appointment of an emergency financial manager in Detroit. He cites it as the reason he got into the race. He's also interested in improving city services. Townsel is a graduate of Detroit's Cass Technical High School. He also has a bachelor's and a master's degree from Howard University and is working on a doctorate in Educational Administration and Policy. Although he doesn't have a long history of political experience, Townsel believes his background in education would be helpful as mayor. "As an educator you’re dealing with public and then managing large bodies of people within a district as well as decision-making skills understanding the policy process, he said. "I have the ability to lead and the talent to lead." In addition to everything else he's got going on Townsel has also been a <a href="http://meacswacsports.blogspot.com/2009/06/saskatchewan-roughriders-training-camp.html">Canadian pro football player</a> and honed his skills as a rapper. Check out <a href="http://www.mlive.com/entertainment/detroit/index.ssf/2011/01/video_of_the_day_cass_tech_gra.html">this video</a> for "City of Gold," an ode the his hometown.