Monday, February 16, 2009

Endorsments Roll In

We are now only a little more than a week away from the first of Detroit's four mayoral elections this year. Ordinarily, I would say that so many elections in one year was excessive. However, the fact of the matter is that Detroit needs something like this to force politicians to produce results expeditiously - something that was sorrily lacking throughout 2008 as the entire region languished in a political limbo caused by former Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick's text message scandal.

Because we are so close to this first election, the endorsements are all starting to roll in.

The Metro Times has endorsed the incumbent, Interim Mayor Kenneth V. Cockrel, Jr. As part of their endorsement, they cited a need for stability within Detroit's government at this moment in our history. I disagree with their rationale vehemently.

Detroit needs stability in its political hierarchy like New Orleans needs another hurricane.

The dictionary defines stability as a resistance to change. Fundamental change, in my opinion, is something that must occur within Detroit - and must occur as expeditiously as humanly possible - if we are going to have any chance at surviving as a community.

Under Mayor Cockrel, the City of Detroit is spending $19 million to support the Harmonie Park/Paradise Valley project. However, we can't hire enough police officers to make sure every 9-1-1 call is answered.

Under Mayor Cockrel, the City of Detroit has 5 different municipal agencies working on economic development. However, none of them are doing a very good job of it.

Under Mayor Cockrel, the City of Detroit spends $15.4 million to operate the nine member City Council and another $11.8 million to operate the Mayor's Office itself. However, the Detroit Fire Department routinely has to do without the equipment and manpower that they need to do their jobs effectively.

Under Mayor Cockrel, the City of Detroit spends $11.9 million on the Civic Center. I love Hart Plaza as much as anyone else. However, I'm painfully aware of the fact that many neighborhoods haven't seen a single snow plow all winter.

This is what "stability" has gotten Detroiters: a persistent devotion to special projects while our basic needs go unattended. To put it quite simply, we cannot afford any more of it.

The Detroit News, Detroit NAACP President Rev. Wendall Anthony and the Fannie Lou Hammer PAC have all endorsed businessman Dave Bing. By my informal count, Mr. Bing now has more endorsements than any other candidate in this race. The fact that Mr. Bing used to live in suburban Franklin, Michigan had no impact on any of these key opinion leaders and neither did the fact that his wife still lives there.

Freman Hendrix has also led an impressive campaign. I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Hendrix several times during his 2005 campaign for mayor. As someone who used to work on political campaigns professionally, I also got to know him during his service to former Mayor Dennis W. Archer as well as during his service to former Wayne County Executive Ed McNamara.

The Detroit Free Press endorsed Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans. Mr. Evans has done a very good job as sheriff. I was impressed by his decision to stop foreclosure sales in Wayne County. However, I am concerned about his on-going feud with Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano. Detroit's next mayor will need to build a lot of strategic partnerships and such a feud could be detrimental to Detroit's interests.

After much deliberation, the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog is making its own endorsement in the mayoral race; it's a dual endorsement. I endorse both Dave Bing and former Deputy Mayor Freman Hendrix.

Both of these gentlemen are uniquely qualified to lead Detroit through the challenges that we currently face. They each have an impressive resume and are well-qualified for the position in this important time.

Only one of them, of course, will be able to become Detroit's next mayor. However, that is something for us to decide in the May election.

I look forward to that debate.
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