Now there really is a new era beginning in Detroit.
The Motor city, which became the largest municipality in U.S. history to declare bankruptcy this past summer, has now elected the first white politician to be mayor in four decades.
Michael E. Duggan, the former chief executive of the Detroit Medical Center who halted the dangerous hemorrhaging at the mammoth hospital and turned it into a profitable and sustainable enterprise, defeated challenger and Wayne County sheriff Benny Napoleon by a margin of 55-45 percent. One hundred percent of the votes are in, according to the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News.
Duggan was already leading in pre-election day polls by a 2-to-1 margin in recent polls. The development had caused consternation in some quarters in Detroit, which is nearly 85% African American, while others laud Duggan’s pedigree and history of revitalizing moribund entities.
The predominant sentiment in the city that the once proud mega-megatropolis has sunk to such dire straits — particularly after former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s exorbitantly expensive scandal, payoff and trial — that many residents declare the color of its mayor doesn’t matter. Four of five respondents in a recent Detroit Free Press poll were African American and said overwhelmingly that race was not a factor in their vote.
“Our biggest problem in Detroit isn’t about what color our leaders are, but a crisis of competency among them,” wrote Stephen Henderson, the Free Press editorial-page editor. “It’s foolish to pretend that race doesn’t matter. But it’s equally ridiculous to use it as a crass litmus test to achieve simplistic outcomes.”