Detroit’s 2017 Election: A Review of the Primary and Look Ahead [RESULTS, MAPS]

Who won and how to find out more about Detroit’s primary winners.

Martha Dawson/WDET

For the first time since Detroit exited bankruptcy, city residents are choosing their leaders. The top two finishers from the August primary from the mayor’s, clerk’s and council member district races go on to November’s general election along with the top four vote-winners from the at-large city council candidates, who will vie for two seats.

The night’s biggest news? Mayor Mike Duggan and state Sen. Coleman Young II advance to the November election.

Council Member George Cushingberry, Jr., finished third to Roy McCalister, Jr. and former state Sen. Virgil Smith, ensuring residents in Detroit’s District 2 will have a new representative on the City Council.

In the city clerk’s race, incumbent Janice Winfrey will face newcomer Garlin Gilchrist II, who resigned from Duggan’s administration to run.

On Wednesday’s Detroit Today program, host Sandra Svoboda talks about the results and what they mean with three local journalists: WDET’s Pat Batcheller, the Detroit Free Press’s Nancy Kaffer and the Michigan’s Chronicle’s Keith Owens

“I do believe Duggan’s going to be mayor, and this is pretty much what we expected,” says Owens. “As far as Senator Young is going, I think that his rhetoric is good. The problem is that the people, the vein that he’s tapped into, they’re willing to scream and shout but they’re not willing to vote.”

Though surprised by the large margin by which Duggan won his votes, Kaffer agrees with Owens’ general sentiment. Still, she says that it may not have been as simple as just getting up and going to vote for some Detroiters.  

“We also have to think about the structural barriers to voting,” Kaffer says. “The areas of the city that are mostly likely to have heavy voter turn-out are also the areas … that have higher levels of education. And there’s a direct correlation between education and voter turnout in no small part because the more advanced your education is, the more secure your job is, the more you’re able to say ‘I’m going to be an hour late because I’m voting,’… If you’re working a minimum wage job, you don’t have that luxury.  There’s a lot of stuff we can do to make it easier for people to vote as a state… Internet voting, no-reason absentee voting, same-day registration, all that stuff would make it easier for people to vote. We don’t do that stuff.”

To hear the full conversation, click the audio player above. 

You can find full results below with more information about the candidates. 




MayorCity ClerkCity Council At-Large


Click on the district on the map to see full results for the August primary election:


Click on the candidate’s name to see their videos, collected by Citizen Detroit. Winners in bold.


  Votes Percent
Articia Bomer 201 <1%
Angelo Brown 228 <1%
Edward Dean 433 <1%
Mike Duggan (i) 43,535 67%
Curtis Greene 307 <1%
Donna Pitts 528 <1%
DeNetta Simpson 424 <1%
Coleman Young II 17,180 26%

“I was surprised by the margin,” says Nancy Kaffer. “I mean I think we all knew that Duggan and Senator Young would advance and I think we all figured that the mayor would have a pretty big win, but that’s a 40-point win. That’s a lot, and I think Senator Young was very optimistic, but that’s going to be really all but impossible to overcome.” 


  Votes Percent
Ronald Creswell 1,209 1%
Garlin Gilchrist II 12,307 19%
Cynthia Johnson 4,642 7%
Faustine Onwuneme 904 1%
Heaster Wheeler 8,284 13%
D. Etta Wilcoxon 3,067 4%
Janice Winfrey 32,196 51%

Regarding the now upcoming race between Janice Winfrey and Garlin Gilchrist II, Keith Owens says “I’m very much looking forward to that race… I think more people expected Heaster Wheeler to be the one… and it was very, very close. Garlin Gilchrist has his experience as a community organizer behind him [so] it could tighten up significantly towards the end. I think it will be a good race.” 


  Votes Percent
Janee’ Ayers (i) 25,763 25%
Brenda Jones (i) 46,133 45%
Beverly Kindle-Walker 6,597 6%
Alisa McKinney 6,188 6%
Mary Waters 17,197 16%

“The incumbents won pretty comfortably in each district,” says Pat Bachelor. Kaffer sheds some light on why that might be. 

“Among the fourteen percent or so of the Detroiters who voted yesterday,” she says, “they’re satisfied with the leadership that’s in place. We’re returning all but one incumbent through to advance to the general election, most of them with pretty comfortable win spreads there.”


Melissa Mason
  Votes Percent
De’Andre Nelson 1,333 11%
Tamara Smith 1,897 16%
James Tate (i) 7,855 70%


Melissa Mason
  Votes Percent
Linda Bernard 1,195 9%
George Cushingberry (i) 2,501 19%
Tyra Dear-Williams 672 5%
Roy McCalister Jr. 3,162 24%
Helena Scott 2,271 17%
Virgil Smith 2,812 22%

“Pretty much everyone got in,” says Keith Owens, “which I think was surprising except for of course George Cushingberry… Though I knew there was some dissatisfaction in that district, I did think that he was going to be among the top two… and that’s significant; he’s been in the game for a long, long time.”


Melissa Mason
  Votes Percent
Cedric Banks 431 6%
Russ Bellant 1,178 18%
Scott Benson (i) 3,469 55%
Dennis Green 605 9%
Adam Mundy 491 7%


Melissa Mason
  Votes Percent
Ane Bomani 352 4%
Jackie Grant 817 11%
Latish Johnson 1,815 24%
Andre Spivey (i) 4,264 58%


Melissa Mason



No primary election held


Melissa Mason
  Votes Percent
Tyrone Carter 1,907 33%
Raquel Castaneda-Lopez (i) 3,373 59%
Felicita Lugo 411 7%


Melissa Mason
  Votes Percent
Gabe Leland (i) 4,553 59%
Regina Ross 1,899 24%
JoAnna Underwood 1,217 15%



  • Sandra Svoboda
    Recovering Bankruptcy Reporter/Blogger looking forward to chronicling regional revitalization on-air, digitally and through community engagement.
  • Melissa Mason
    UM-Dearborn Political Science student. Thought interning at WDET would be interesting. Does data for “Detroit By The Numbers” and assists with “Detroit Today.”