Everything They Said: The Mayoral Debate Transcript

Here’s a full transcript of the only debate in the 2017 Detroit mayoral race.

Incumbent Mayor Mike Duggan and state Sen. Coleman Young II met in their only scheduled debate of the 2017 mayoral race. WDET carried the broadcast live — you can listen to it here. 

A Detroit Today conversation dissected the debate with political observers and callers.

WDIV’s Devin Scillian served as moderator and three journalists asked questions: Chastity Pratt Dawsey from Bridge magazine, Christine Ferretti from The Detroit News,and Kimberly Gill from WDIV.

Here’s a full transcript of the debate:

Devin Scillian: Tonight we’re going to cover a wide range of topics that matter most to Detroit voters and find out where our candidates stand. I am joined by three panelists who will be asking the questions tonight. Kimberly Gill, my partner at the anchor desk here at WDIV Local Four, Christine Ferretti is here, City Hall Reporter for The Detroit News, and Chastity Pratt Dawsey reporter for Bridge magazine and a contributor to Detroit Public Television. Thank the three of you for being here.

The candidates as you know by now are state Senator Coleman Young II and the current mayor of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. Gentlemen I thank both of you for being here as well. We’re going to begin with opening statements. Each candidate will have one minute and 30 seconds. Campaign representatives drew for order before the show, and Senator Young you will go first.

Young: Good evening. Detroit is a tale of two cities. It’s the best of times for those who are privileged and the worst of times for everybody else. These are the times that try men’s souls. The reason why I’m running for mayor of is young Damon Grimes, who was murdered by the state police for riding an ATV, for Miss Smith, who was terrorized in her house by suburban police and Detroit police did not show up. For Malice Green who was murdered and my opponent covered it all. We deserve better. I’m running for mayor for the people who had their water shut off, for the people who lost their houses due to foreclosure, the people who either got their license suspended or who are in jail because of racist auto insurance redlining. I’m running to be your next mayor because everywhere my opponent has been, there’s been a criminal investigation. Whether he was at DMC, whether he was at DPS, whether he was at the county and now with the city. He needs to step aside and let an honest young man get the job done for all Detroiters. I’m Coleman Young II, and I’m asking for your vote. It’s time to take back the motherland for the people.

Scillian: Thank you for your opening statement. Mayor Duggan, you also have 1:30 for your opening statement.

Duggan: I want to thank WDIV, our media partners and the people of the city of Detroit. You elected me four years ago in a campaign that I will never forget. I got thrown off the ballot. I ended up running as a write-in against a barber but I got elected with support from every corner of this city. You can see how this year’s campaign is going to go. A bunch of trumped up charges. A lot of attacks on me and my plans from a candidate with not a single plan of his own. That’s the way it’s been and that’s the way it’s going to be tonight. But here’s what I know: in the 10 years before bankruptcy 200,000 people left the city of Detroit, driven out by no streetlights no buses, a 911 response time that could take an hour and the 200,000 people that left were the working families that could move to the suburbs. They could afford it. They left behind a city with the highest poverty and unemployment rate in America. There were those who said we couldn’t make it. I believe we can do it. In the last four years, we’ve turned on 65,000 lights, knocked down 13,000 homes, bought 200 buses, cut police and fire response times. We have put 20,000 Detroiters back to work. And the next four years we’re going to be able to continue to build on that success. And I hope I have your support.

Scillian: Gentlemen thank you. Let’s get down to our questions. Each candidate will have one minute and 30 seconds to answer the same question which will be addressed to each. Then each candidate will have the opportunity for a 30-second rebuttal if he should want it. I will enforce the time limits fairly and firmly. I would describe it as politely ruthless. I also want to mention we took into consideration the feedback that we receive from our viewers and readers when choosing the questions. We thank the overwhelming response for the interest in this debate. All right let’s start things off with my colleague here from WDIV. Kimberly Gill you’ve got the first question which will be for Mayor Dugan who will answer first.

Gill: OK Mayor Duggan my first question is about crime. And last month the FBI released crime statistics that anointed Detroit as America’s most violent city. There has been some dispute over the way the statistics are compiled but whether Detroit is first or 10th or 20th, residents here know they live in a city that is far too dangerous. What will you do to create a safer less crime ridden city?

Duggan: I don’t need any statistics to know this city is not as safe as it needs to be. And my opponent’s plan apparently is to fire Chief Craig which I couldn’t disagree with more. If you look at what happened when Chief Craig arrived: he came in when there were five police chiefs in five years. The police officers in this city had had their pay cut 10 percent, had their health care cut, had their pensions cut. They were leaving the department in droves. And they created a crisis that when you called 911, people wouldn’t show up for an hour. I sat down with Chief Craig and we attacked the problem. We took 200 officers who were dispatching cars and behind desks, moved them into the street to cut the response time in half and then we made the painful decision to cut other programs so we can embark on the largest police hiring program we’ve had in years. We hired 400 police officers in the last two years. We have 150 more in the academy today. We’re hiring 200 more this year, and as they’re coming out we’re deploying them into precincts with the highest crime area in a program called CeaseFire where we’re partnering with the feds and we’re cracking down on those gun crimes. We’re only in five precincts now. In January we’ll be adding the 4th and the 7th precincts and we’re going to keep going. When you take that combined with the strategies we’ve seen in (Project) Green Light where 200 businesses now have partnered with us we believe we’re on a good track. We have a long way to go and we need to stay with it.

Scillian: Senator Young, your response on the question about crime?

Young: With all that, we are still the most violent city in America. What I want to do is first I want to have a homicide review commission to review all the homicides and we get all the departments within the city like the health department to be able to review these homicides. The second thing I want to do is treat violence like a virus so that we can make sure that we go to the Centers of Disease Control to make sure that we could be proactive and find out where the root causes of these violent problems are so we can bring them to justice. We will also want to expand the police mini stations and we want to make sure that police officers are walking the beats and we’ll use Justice …  grants to be able to do that. We also want to use National Integration Ballistics Information Network to be able to use trace data to find these crime guns and get them off the street. We also want to make sure that we put people back to work by raising the minimum wage and creating jobs because there is no problem in this city that a good paying job can’t fix like the honorable Coleman Young said.

Duggan: And this again will tell us where we are. Open up ministration, take police out of the patrol cars and put them back behind the desk. It makes no sense. Put officers on the beat walking the beat. You better hope that they’re walking in front of your house when you dial 911. What we have done is deploy officers to cut the response time, and the Green Light now has cut the violent crimes in half in 200 areas that was in danger that are now zones of safety. It’ll be 400 by next year. We can make this better

Scilllian: And that’s time that Senator Young.

Young: We are the most violent city in America. Violent crimes have gone up by 15.7 percent. There are 2,094 per 100,000 violent crimes in this city. Whatever he’s talking about doing is not working. Mothers are burying their children. And Chief Craig is more interested about making the numbers work and talk about … that putting together a plan to keep the people safe. This is incompetence on parade. And that’s why we are changing leadership.

Scillian: And that’s time Senator let’s move to our second question that comes from Christine Ferretti from the Detroit News, and Senator Young, you’ll be answering first.

Ferretti: Neighborhood revitalization is considered a key to Detroit’s growth. How will you improve the neighborhoods in the city that continue to struggle and where will you get the money to do that?

Young: The first thing I want to do is I want to have community development corporations in the neighborhoods. We also want to take the money from the home funds, from the Hope Six funds — that’s money for affordable housing — put that in neighborhoods. We also want to encourage the pension funds to be able to invest money into affordable housing. We want to put our people back to work rebuilding our roads and our infrastructure. We also want to make sure we get grants from the economic development administration and from New Markets Tax Credits to be able to start small businesses. Fifty three percent of the jobs in Detroit are small businesses. Sixty four percent of those are in the neighborhoods. That’s what we want to do to put people back to work and to invest in our neighborhoods. … We also want to make sure that we have asset control areas, that’s also money from the federal government where we designate zones to get rid of these blighted homes and these blighted properties. We also want to make sure that we open up the Land Bank process to allow people to buy the site lots, also to allow people to be able to buy properties for a dollar again. If we could get back to these things I think we could have more development within the neighborhoods. And I also want to make sure that we set a record in hiring minority contractors and pay them when they do the job

Scillian: Mayor Duggan, you get 1:30 on the same question on neighborhoods.

Duggan: We have an awful lot of vacant houses in this city. They’re in good shape and structurally sound. In the last three years we’ve taken 3,000 vacant houses, taken them away from the homeowners who neglected them, sold them on the web site BuildingDetroit.org, and moved families back in, Three thousand families occupied. Senator Young says he wants to sell side lots. He’s a little late to the party. We’ve sold 8,200 side lots to next -door neighbors who are maintaining them so they could add swing sets and slides and gardens. And then what we are doing is taking a strategy that works so well in Midtown, and we call it the Strategic Neighborhood Fund. We are starting to go to 10 neighborhoods across the city and investing all kinds of money. We’ve lined up now $60 million of private money and this week in West Village we just opened the Coe. They built beautiful new apartments and retail. We’re doing the same thing in the Fitzgerald neighborhood at McNichols  and Livernois, where we’re renovating 115 houses and then out in Old Redford. We’re about to kick off a program: we’re going to renovate 50 houses around the old Holcomb school. We’re going from neighborhood to neighborhood and then for the storefronts. We need to create beautiful areas where businesses want to invest. And I’m very proud to say yesterday Detroit City Council approved my proposal for a $125 million bond issue. We’re going to put $80 million into it. Twenty three neighborhood quarters your shopping Court is making the beautiful flowers and walkways and the like and recreate those old shopping districts. That’s the plan we have for the next four years.

Scillian: That’s time. Senator, would you like another 30 seconds on this topic.

Young: Yes. Mike I want you to look at the camera and I want to just say that to the 100,000 people who’ve had their water shut off. I want you to say that to the over 28,000 people who had their houses foreclosed on. I want you to go in there and I want to say that to the 30,000 people who have hepatitis A, to the 10 people who have died of Legionnaires disease because of these watershed as a policy which is killing people by the way. Go look them in the face and tell them that these neighborhoods are coming back. You’re making all these investments for them. I want you to go on

Scillian: And that’s time.

Duggan: I’d like you to look in the face and say one thing that’s true. Legionnaire’s disease from water off and all this other nonsense. But here’s what I do know on foreclosures: When I came in we had 6,000 homeowners a year being foreclosed on because the Treasurer by law if he made a payment plan had to charge 18 percent interest. You were doing nothing in Lansing. I went to Lansing got a bill passed the Treasurer’s got a program where they can get 6 percent loans and we cut the foreclosures by 88 percent this year. We’re keeping people in their homes. While you’re missing your votes in Lansing.

Scillian: That’s not the format. If you want to come back to it later, you’ll have to take it out of another question. That was a format that you gentlemen agreed on. I’m just the referee. OK. Our next question will come from Chastity Pratt Dawsey. Mayor Duggan will be answering this question first.

Pratt Dawsey: The dismantling of the Detroit schools couldn’t have come at a worse time. Over the last 20 years when the city needed the schools to produce young people who were college bound and skilled in trades the schools are the nation’s worst task force and essentially went bankrupted under state control. So we know that the city doesn’t control the schools but the city owns dozens of abandoned schools and local employers need a skilled workforce. So what does the city government need to do to help the schools recover so that schools can help the city recover?

Duggan: Chastity, you’re absolutely right. What the state takeover of the schools did over the last 10 years was devastating. And I don’t believe the mayor should run the schools. But I’ve said I want to be the best partner they’ve ever had which was why when the teachers came to me three years ago with terrible conditions in the school we went in and partnered with the parents and did inspections and brought every school up to code and got the lead out of the water. And probably the biggest tragedy was that there has been a school known as the Randolph Academy at McNichols at Hubble and years ago, you had hundreds of high school students from the city to try to build houses these schools they learn carpentry and plumbing and bricklaying skills the like and the emergency manager let it go to nothing. I went to Dr. Vitti and Alycia Meriweather and said “We’ve got thousands of jobs we can’t fill let’s reopen Randolph.” I lined up $10 million in private investment, got all the building trade unions on board. And last month Randolph reopened with all of the equipment, 300 students enrolled. And here’s the beauty: this month we’re going to take that same equipment and those same trainers and after 3 o’clock at night when the students go home, we’re going to open up to train adults so their moms and dads can come in in the evening to get the training for the skills they need. We are looking to replicate that now with Dr. Vitti with auto mechanics and culinary arts. We’re in these conversations today because this is where I think Detroit’s partnership with DPS should be: making sure our students are being trained for the jobs of the next generation.

Scilllian: Senator Young, you’ve got 90 seconds on the question about the schools, the role that the city government and the mayor’s office can play.

Young: The role that the city should play for the schools is one, we need to be able to work with the skilled trade unions to be able to make sure that we have skilled trades in these schools. Secondly what we need to do is we need to be able to make sure that we have community schools so we have schools with wraparound services: job training, tax preparation, baby college, health care center. These are things we will choose and some schools and we’ll work with the schools in order to do that. We also need to make sure that we have expanded learning time, that we have kids in school for longer school days and longer school years. And let me say this too. I tried to put forth this plan with my opponent and he rejected it. The education system in the city of Detroit — we’re living in 21st century world and we’re educate our children a 19th century model. And let me say this to you about him saying earlier about my record. I’m not going to have my record questioned about me voting on laws or making laws when my opponent can’t even follow the laws. He admitted to bid rigging and colluding on television. How is he going to criticize me or how I vote and don’t vote? And we will never know whether or not he’s going to jail after this debate is over. I think it’s wrong. I think it’s shameful. We deserve better leadership.

Scillian: Mayor, you get 30 seconds to answer that.

Duggan: Boy for a guy who’s sensitive to criticism, you sure don’t mind making stuff up. Obviously I was never engaged in bid rigging. Never admitted to or anything like that. But what the senator wants to avoid is this: every problem he just talked about the schools lack of wraparound services lack after time or state issues, the state funds it, and his criticisms are right. I can’t figure out what job he is running for because it sounds like as state senator, he failed to get the funding for these programs. And a big part of it is he’s missed 30 percent of the votes in the last year because he isn’t going to work

Scillian: That’s time for that time Senator.

Young: This is the same person who had a pay-for-play scheme when he was a contractor and while he was running for county prosecutor. If these people who he was contracting with gave him money, he would give them contracts. This is going to criticize me. He has had a level of criminal investigation everywhere he’s been. And let me say this about the schools. The mayor has a bully pulpit and you can lead. He went up to Lansing and tried to do it and failed

Scillian: From my pulpit I see the red light the time is up on that one. Let’s move down to our next question that’ll be for Kimberly Gill and Senator Young will be answering this question first.

Gill: OK Senator Young, the competition to win Amazon’s second headquarters has brought into focus the debate over what cities are willing to do to attract businesses and jobs whether it’s Amazon, a new sports stadium or perhaps building the tallest skyscraper in the city, public money and tax breaks are spent to subsidize billion-dollar businesses and wealthy CEOs. What is the best practice for businesses and investment in a way that’s fair and equitable to the people who live in the city of Detroit?

Young: Well the first thing we need to do is we need to make sure that Detroiters actually get these jobs. If you look at what happened with the Red Wings stadium only 33 percent of Detroiters got jobs. That’s the problem. Detroit is 80 percent black, and black folks only make up 33 percent of all the jobs. That’s wrong. That’s apartheid. The second thing we need to do is we need to make sure that we have proper transit infrastructure. And the reason why Amazon didn’t come here was because we did not have serious mass transit. One. The only thing we have now is the QLILNE that goes 3.3 miles that my opponent supported one. Second we would need to make sure that we have the proper airport infrastructure. And I work with somebody within the Tuskegee Airman who says he wants to bring airport and he wants to bring business to the airport and that’s what we should do. We should be able to have a 21st century airport. We shouldn’t be making the airport a dragstrip and that’s what we’re doing right now. And if we would have listened to the Honorable Coleman Young when he wanted to build mass transit to the suburbs, if we had just done what he told us to do, we wouldn’t be in the situation we’re in now. But again this is just failed leadership. And my opponents need to get up here and try to talk about spin and try to talk about all these other things, about what he did he did but I’m here to tell you the truth and the facts because they matter.

Scillian: Mayor, you get 90 seconds on the question which was about balancing the needs of investment and business with the needs of the citizenry.

Duggan: While my opponent talks about what he’s going to do, let me talk about what I have done. We landed Allied Bank: 1,400 employees on their way to the suburbs and got them into the city of Detroit. We got the headquarters of Fifth Third Bank from the suburbs, 350 jobs. The largest seat maker in America Adient, s moving 500 jobs from Milwaukee to their world headquarters to downtown Detroit. The automotive manufacturing company with seven hundred jobs making parts for Ford and GM cars, we got to locate here on the side of the abandoned Southwestern high school and they’ve hired 200 returning citizens. We are training our returning citizens while they’re in prison and bringing them straight into employment. And probably the one that I’m proudest of Flex-n-Gate. If you go over to 94 and Van Dyke, there’s a $165 million auto plant being built there right now. They’re going to make the front ends for Ford Trucks, hire 500 people and they did it through a community benefit process. Councilman Scott Benson sat the Flex-n-Gate leadership down with the community, and they agreed on noise and traffic restrictions. They agreed for local preference on hiring. And they will be hiring next year: Detroiters. So when Senator Young says we lost the Amazon? We haven’t lost Amazon at all. The city of Detroit is starting to win again, and 20,000 more Detroiters are working today than were working four years ago because we’re working together.

Scillian: Senator Young, if you’d like it, you get another 30 seconds.

Young: Yes. There he goes again talking about what they’re doing downtown or Midtown. What about the neighborhoods? What about the people here? The unemployment rate or 22 percent or higher in these neighborhoods with the most violence and have the most poverty in this city. Whatever he said he’s doing it’s not trickling down to the people. It’s not being given out to the neighborhoods. That’s what matters. That’s where most people live. And we only have mass transit that goes 3.3 miles they don’t have leadership.

Scillian: Mayor Duggan there’s another 30 seconds for you if you’d like it.

Duggan: you know he wants to talk about two Detroit. There’s two Senator Youngs. He’s attacking jobs in downtown Detroit. In July we passed five bills in Lansing for tax breaks for downtown developers that are going to be a great thing. Senator Young, he was the co-sponsor of all five bills for Dan Gilbert’s and Mike Ilitch’s downtown development. They were good bills but they were his. When he’s in Lansing. He’s sponsoring the tax breaks for downtown. And I notice when he talked about his legislative accomplishments he comes back to the city he never mentions the fact that he’s taken two positions depending on where he is.

Scillian: Gentlemen, thank you. We’re going to take one break in the middle of our 60 minutes and we will continue with the questions live from WDIV studios in just a moment. … Let’s get back to the questions Christine Ferretti from the Detroit News.

Ferretti: Detroit residents, as we know, pay some of the highest rates in the country for auto insurance. No-fault reform has been on the agenda for years but cutting rates are going to require some statewide support. And it’s not something that the mayor can accomplish directly. How will you address the high cost of insurance in the city?

Duggan: Detroiters have been ripped off on car insurance for years. People in Ohio pay $900 a car. People in the rest of state pay $2,400 a car and people in Detroit pay $3,600 a car because Lansing has imposed this no-fault system on us and it is ridiculous. In 1972 doctors and hospitals were allowed to charge whatever they want. Nobody’s ever fixed that. And you want current insurance is so high because today if you were on Medicare and you went in for an MRI, Medicare would pay your doctor and clinic $500 but if you get in a car accident they’ll pay $3,200 for that same MRI. And the lawyers have figured out how to take a third of it, which is why you see all these billboards and all these ads. It’s time that we deal with it. And so we have proposed with the NAACP and a whole lot of community organizations a plan that says let’s treat Michigan like the rest of the country. If you want to buy the same kind of health insurance as the rest of the country — and it’s your choice, driver’s choice – nobody’s taking anything away from you. You will have a 20 to 50 percent reduction. And if you’re a senior citizen right now you’ll be in terribly ripped off if you are in a car accident in any other 49 states. Medicare would cover you your hospital your rehab but the state of Michigan requires you to buy unnecessary duplicate coverage. We have a chance to pass driver’s choice right now to put $700 in the pockets of the average Detroiter $1,000 in the pocket of every senior citizen. And I’m tired of our legislators in Lansing having excuses why they can’t get anything done.

Scillian: Senator Coleman Coleman Young your thoughts on addressing this terrible car insurance problem that faces Detroiters?

Young: Yes. The reason why auto insurance is too high is because of racist redlining. We need to stop. We need to make sure that auto insurance companies start charging people based on their territory. That’s why as mayor, one I’m going to sue the auto insurance company to stop this racist redlining from going on in the city of Detroit. Secondly I’m going to direct my chief of police to stop asking people for their proof of insurance because all you’re doing is taxing poor people and people who are made to buy a product that they can’t afford. They charge based on your sex. They charge based on your race. They charge based on your occupation. They charge based on your education. It’s wrong. We need change. Let me say this. We also need to change the definition of what is excessive in auto insurance. In the 44-year history of auto insurance rate has never been deemed excessive. We need to go back to the federal government standard for the Federal Insurance Office of the United States Department of Treasury that said the auto insurance should not be more than 2 percent of your income. And let me also say this he wanted to talk about my record earlier. Let me just say the reason why I voted for those bills is because I’d rather see somebody kick a soccer ball on a soccer stadium than carry a ball and chain in a jail cell. While my opponent was locking people up — young black men for low-level drug possession as a county prosecutor — I’m going to be fighting to make sure that we stop the war on drugs and the war on black and brown people.

Scillian: Mayor Duggan, my hunch is you’d like a 30-second rebuttal.

Duggan: This is the Lansing nonsense people are tired of. You’re going to file a lawsuit? The NAACP filed the redlining lawsuit in 1993. It went on for three years, and they lost because the insurance companies prove that Detroit has been charged more because of these medical expenses that all these lawyers and doctors preying on us. And they said you have to fix it in Lansing. And Senator you ran for office and said you were going to fix it. And 10 years later you’ve delivered squat. Driver’s choice will give us relief now. I’m glad people like Senator Ian Conyers and Senator Santana have the courage to stand up so young I assume you’d like 13 years.

Young: I will respond. First of all first of all I’m the only person on this stage that actually passed an auto insurance reform bill through a chamber in the Legislature one. Secondly let me also say that what we’re playing on the dollar for lawsuits is to make sure that we sue based on not just race or sex and also your occupation. We also want to make sure to see if we can file a national class action lawsuit because people are red lined not just Detroit, also in Pennsylvania, also in Chicago, and I want to work with United States Conference of Mayors to get done.

Scillian: Our next question comes again from Bridge magazine reporter Chastity Pratt Dawsey, and this question will be directed first to Coleman Young.

Pratt Dawsey: Each of you has faced some tough criticism in the public and from each other whether it’s fair or unfair. Even right now there are people outside, Mayor Duggan, they’re blaming you for fudging crime stats, for the $200 million federal investigation… into the demolition program, and (Senator) Young, you’ve been facing criticism from people who are saying you are building a political career on your father’s name, you don’t have legislative accomplishments on your own. This is a question of public integrity, which I would like you to answer specifically: why should people trust you?

Scillian: Senator Young, you’re first on this.

Young: I have a 10-year record. I’ve passed legislation regulating the medical marijuana industry, historic civil rights legislation, making sure that pregnant women receive mandatory paid leave. I’ve create 10,000 jobs in the movie tax credit industry. I’ve also passed legislation involving energy costs recovery. I’ve passed legislation appropriating $2 million to Focus:HOPE, $500,000 for the Charles H. Wright Museum (of African American History) and $6.8 million for Heat and Eat,  those are programs for heating assistance and food assistance which allows us to draw down over $300 million from the federal government. But I’ve also never been investigated for a crime federally and I never admitted to bid rigging and colluding on television like my opponent. I think it’s time for integrity. I think it’s time for someone that’s going to fight for you and your family, who’s going to invest the neighborhoods and not just downtown, who’s going to try to fight to end the drug war not to continue it, who understands that we need people who are trying to put us to work and pit the neighborhoods to work not put the people who donated billions and billions of dollars to his campaign to work. That’s why I’m running for mayor and that’s why you should trust me because I’m bought and unbossed. My bet isn’t bit and it’s not meant to be rigged.

Scillian: Mayor Duggan, your thoughts on public trust.

Duggan: I’ve lived 30 years in public life from deputy county executive to running the SMART bus system to (Wayne County) prosecutor, DMC and everything listeners that is flat out wrong. There was never any criminal investigation the DMC. The criminal investigation that occurred in Wayne County 20 years ago the US Attorney explicitly said was never targeted at me. And he’s making up this nonsense about bid rigging but I believe the people of the city will make a decision based on what they have seen. And I think integrity is doing what you say you’re going to do. And the biggest thing we need in this city is to spread opportunity because I am a great believer that the talent in this world is spread evenly. But what is not is opportunity and particularly with our children who have no chance to go to school. And so when I talk to parents who say, “what do I tell my son and daughter about going to college?” We got together and passed the Detroit Promise. In the Detroit Promise, we became the first big city in America to guarantee every single graduate of a high school in Detroit two years of community college guaranteed. And then we added to it: four years guaranteed if you get a 3.0 on your grade point and get 20 and your ACT. So that now moms and dads and grandparents can say to their kids at 12 and 14 and 16 “Study hard. The money will be there for you. Your future doesn’t have to be determined by the zip code that you live in,” and that’s what I mean by one Detroit for all of us everybody can prosper and we’re going to work really hard. Twelve hundred high school students in college this month on the Promise.

Scillian: Senator Young you’ve get 30 seconds if you’d like it.

Young: There he goes again. He’s saying there wasn’t any criminal investigation. He had to pay $30 million to the federal government for violating anti-kickback laws. He admitted on Fox News in front of Charlie (Le) Duff on television that he met with three contractors, that he had a negotiated price on those contractors those three contractors got the bids. And then he put the bids out for everybody else a couple days later. If that’s not bid rigging,  I don’t know what is. And if he’s not doing anything then why is the FBI still here?

Scillian: Thirty seconds for you.

Duggan: You know you just don’t have the slightest bit of shame. It’s just unbelievable. I never met with any contractors. I never said any such thing. And there was never any criminal investigation at DMC you should stop impugning the employees there. There was a civil self-disclosure as part of the sale transaction there was never any criminal investigation. You just make this stuff up without any regard to what’s true.

Scillian: And that’s time for that. Our next question comes from WDIV’s Kimberly Gill. Mayor Duggan will be answering this question first.

Gill: OK, Mayor this next question is about race. The big pink elephant in the room that nobody wants to really talk about but is indeed an issue. The region has been plagued by racial division both in the city and the suburbs. Racism, economic segregation and lack of job opportunities have all contributed to racial tension and fear of a Detroit split between the haves and have nots. In a city that is 82 percent African-American, is it the responsibility of city government to address racial and economic tensions between longtime residents and new residents and if so how will you do it?

Duggan: It absolutely is the mayor’s responsibility, and we do have haves and have nots but the responsibility of leadership is to make sure that where you start out does not determine where you end up. It means we have to have paths of opportunity. There are so many barriers in the city of Detroit: 25 percent of our residents don’t own a car. And when I started half the buses were in the terminal. People couldn’t get to work. You waited for a long time. We added 100 buses, 1,500 trips a week. We have people who don’t have job training opportunities and so we’ve set up to try to work and now we have training programs for the hospital jobs and went to DMC and Henry Ford and St. Johns and said “Why won’t you hire Detroiters as they don’t have the skills.” So we started a program with Focus:HOPE and Oakland University. I just went for the first graduating class of 45 people, 35 of them already have jobs in the hospitals and the other 10 are being interviewed. We are replicating these opportunities over and over. Some of the people who face the greatest discrimination are returning citizens. If we don’t provide opportunities, then folks are just going to get right back up to what they were doing before. And so we started a program in connection with the state at Ryan Prison where I’ve been on a number of occasions, and we go into Ryan for folks six months before they’re going to be released and offer forklift training for jobs that are there, $17 dollars. We offer culinary arts training for chefs, blight training and we’ve already had 130 of these prisoners released, 65 straight into good-paying jobs. The job of the mayor is make sure there’s opportunity for everyone.

Scillian: Senator Young, your thoughts on the role of government to address racial and that can often lead to economic tensions among residents.

Young: Listen if you’re a black person in this country you’re three times more likely to be arrested, you’re three times more likely to be handcuffed, you’re three times more likely to be searched, you’re five times more likely be incarcerated, you’re six times more likely to be incarcerated longer than your white counterparts. This is a serious issue. And what we need to do is we need a mayor who understands and hears the cries of the people and is willing to put people back to work rebuilding our roads, tearing down these abandoned buildings, making sure that minority contractors get jobs and when they get jobs making sure they get paid because there’s not going on under my opponent’s administration. But secondly we also need a mayor that’s going to talk to the people honestly about race and what’s going on, that if you’re an African-American person you are two times more likely to be unemployed, even if you have the same level of college education as your white counterparts. You’re 103 times more likely to be in a more expensive mortgage and you’re more likely to have college debt than your white counterparts. That’s why we need to raise the minimum wage to $15. That’s why we need to make sure that we have people jobs and opportunities and we have community benefits agreement with legally binding mandates where if they don’t hire Detroiters and if they don’t provide benefits in a neighborhood, they’re going to be taking the court.

Scillian: Mayor would you like 30 seconds more?

Duggan: I would.  Senator Young says we should raise the minimum wage to $15. I agree with him. The problem is the state legislature while he was there passed a law that prohibits cities from doing it. If only we had a senator who would fight for us. I’ve just recently been fighting for another area of discrimination: driver responsibility fees that are keeping 20 percent of drivers from being able to get to their jobs legally. We passed the bill out of Senate last week. Senator Young as usual was AWOL and wasn’t there. We’re fighting for the rights of Detroiters and he’s not even going to work.

Scillian: Senator you’ve got another 30 seconds.

Young: Yes. Yes. Thank you for that. What would I want to say is let me say this. I want to make sure that I put people back to work. Secondly there he goes again. He’s talking about what I’m not doing. If only we had a mayor who wasn’t under criminal investigation he would actually fight to make sure that we have minimum wage. The emergency manager was illegal. Hell, bid rigging and colluding was illegal. That didn’t stop him. I don’t know why everything that’s against the people is all legal and everything that’s for the people is illegal. That’s wrong and it needs to change.

Scillian: Christine Ferretti has our next question.

Ferretti: Last November voters rejected a $4.6 billion millage that would have expanded transit services across natural is right. How do you believe here in Detroit, the lack of mass transit is holding the city back? And what could you do as mayor to improve access for residents? Also how do you convince people regionally that this is important enough to spend money on?

Young: What we need to do, one, what we need to make sure that we have something called Sky Train. That’s something they did in Tel Aviv Israel. That’s something that they did in Mumbai, India. That’s what they did in Colorado. Basically that is elevated electric and magnetic trains or pods that will go from New Center all the way to Eight Mile. It will be under the same system that the People Mover is under now. This is very important because you have people who have about 60, 70 percent of citizens of the city Detroit who live in the city of Detroit but work outside of it. So what we need to do is we need to be able to make sure that people can get to work because you have over 36 percent of the folks who work outside who work for $15,000 or less. It’s very important that we have mass transit. That’s what I want to do. I want to make sure that we work on the state level as well as the federal level to be able to get funding for this. I want to make sure that we work with the Transportation Innovation financial innovation act to make sure that we bring that money down to be able to pay for this. I want to make sure that we get all of our money from the state gas tax as well. So if you are able to invest in this very important program because 25 percent of the people to city Detroit don’t have access to vehicles. People are hurting. You have people who are walking over 20 miles just to get to work. That’s not right. And we could do better and we should do better.

Scillian: Mayor Duggan, you’ve got a minute and a half on this. It’s interesting. It is very much a regional matter. Some of it out of the hands of the mayor’s office.

Duggan: Well we’re going to have another conversation about what you say versus what you do. Other than some kind of sky train that isn’t operating anywhere which he is going to spend a bunch of much money on, in 10 years the Senator hasn’t done a thing for transit. I went into the SMART bus system when it was closing in the 90s and turned it around and passed that millage. And nothing was more painful, when I started in January of 2014, remember that blizzard, that winter with blizzards all the time, there were people standing on street corners and 90 percent of the buses in the city were in the garages because they were missing parts and were broken. And the feds wouldn’t release the money. They essentially put us under receivership because we weren’t maintaining the buses. I brought in a professional management. We hired 100 new mechanics. We hired 150 drivers. We got the federal funds released. We bought 100 new buses and for people who were working jobs at 2 a.m., 24-hour service was completely gone in the city of Detroit which means you have to pay 25 bucks for a cab or you had a relative who really loved you to come get you when you got off work at 2 in the morning. We’ve now put 24-hour service back nine routes in this city. We’ve added 1,500 trips a week so people can have access. Now we need to go to the next step, and I’m already sitting down with the executives of the other three counties to say “we have to have a transit system that does what Senator Young says: gets Detroiters to work frequently but also has a lot more frequency to people in the city.” If you miss the bus, you’ve got to wait 45 minutes. You’re much more likely to get to get on it, and we’re going to keep building the bus system here in the city.

Scillian: Senator Young, you’ve got 30 seconds.

Young:  I would like to respond to that. He was part of a mass transit authority up there in Lansing, trying to push this bill and the only thing they got out of it was something that goes 3.3 miles. Now I’m sorry, the city of Detroit is larger than downtown and Midtown. Maybe if he would leave his office in Little Caesars Arena and actually come out into the neighborhoods, he would know that. People are hurting. People have to walk twenty six miles just to get to work. They need transit. They need real transit and the mayor should provide it to them.

Scillian: Mayor you’ve got another 30 seconds.

Duggan: You just keep making this stuff up. Lansing didn’t have anything to do with the QLINE, and neither did I. It was privately funded. It isn’t even a city function. But I do think at some point we do need light rail. We ought to run it up the city streets on Woodward, up to 8 Mile and up in Royal Oak. We ought to run it out Jefferson. And I think those are the kinds of plans that we ought to be talking about together. And there’s no question: Amazon might be the impetus we finally move people off dead center.

Scillian: Chastity Pratt Dawsey, back to her for our next question. Mayor Duggan will be answering this question first.

Pratt Dawsey: I think a few of these questions we didn’t get quite a direct answer on because the questions might be a little long so I’m going to keep this one really short and sweet. No single industry has come to town to save Detroit since the auto industry jobs kind of dried up so I want to talk a little bit more about jobs. Do you believe that small businesses are going to be the key to revitalize in Detroit? And if so how do we support and encourage small businesses. Say Amazon doesn’t come. What happens with supporting and providing jobs for small businesses?

Scilian: Mayor you’ve got a minute and a half on this.

Duggan: You’re absolutely right: there isn’t going to be one strategy here. We’ve got the manufacturing facilities like Flex-n-Gate and Sakthi. We’ve got the financial industry is like Allied Bank and Fifth Third. But small business is the backbone. And one of the most important things is to make sure that as small business comes back we’re inclusive in who is participating. And so I sat down with an awful lot of small business folks particularly entrepreneurs of color and said “What do you need?” And we cleaned up a lot of the permitting process and sped up the access. But the biggest thing was what I heard from African-American and Latino business is, “We can’t get loans we can’t get access to capital.” So we built a partnership with the Kellogg Foundation and JPMorgan Chase. They started an Entrepreneur of Color Fund, and we now have 48 businesses open in this city because of that. We started Motor City Match where every single quarter $500,000 is given out to new businesses. We have now opened 26 businesses, have 50 more in the pipeline, 70 percent are entrepreneurs of color. So you can go see Angela Hayes over by Chandler Park and visit her at her daycare center which is opened up. You can go to the Detroit training center at 94 and 96 where they are training people for all kinds of jobs. We can build this small business community. And if we put the streetscape money in, there’s going to be a lot of neighborhoods that are going to want to be in.

Scillian: You get 90 seconds.

Young: Again, 62 percent of the mission finance went to downtown and Midtown. It ain’t going to the neighborhoods. What we want to do is we want to make sure we have community development corporations in the neighborhoods. We want to make sure we have community develop financial institutions in the neighborhoods and community development credit unions. We also want to make sure that we have better banking ordinances so that we make sure that these banks when they come into the city, that one they’re going to tell us how they’re going to invest in the city, and two how they’re going to give loans to people in Detroit. In the City of Detroit, 1,7000 minorities, African-Americans, did not get loans in the Detroit region. That’s because we did not enforce the Community Reinvestment Act for these banks which is what it’s supposed to be doing. I think that’s wrong. I think these are the things that we need to do to be able to also invest, also invest in new market tax credits which are designed specifically to be able to bring investment into these impoverished areas and these impoverished neighborhoods. That’s what we need to do. We need to create …we need to have three jobs per resident in order to be able to have full employment in the neighborhoods. These are things that we’re going to be working on doing when I’m mayor.

Scillian: Mayor, would you like another 30 seconds?

Duggan: I sure would. Because here we are again. What are you saying you’re going to do versus what have you done. In 10 years, the senator hasn’t done a darned thing to improve business development in the city. But Monday I went to the opening of the Coe over on Van Dyke and Agnes where a developer by the name of Cliff Brown has built a new building with 12 apartment units, residential, and he told me it was so successful building n Detroit “I’m quitting my finance job at Ford after seven years and I’m going full time into development because there are opportunities in the city.” We are building those opportunities we are building the neighborhoods and we’re going to keep going.

Scillian:  Mayor Young, you’ve got 30 seconds.

Young: First of all let me just say this again: I’m a state senator. I’m not a mayor. I can’t do both jobs. I know my opponent thinks I can do both jobs and I know I make this look easy. It’s his job to bring small business to the city. He even said that his job was to make businesses grow in Detroit, not to help the people, not to employ the citizens but to actually bring business to save Detroit. I want to make sure that we help small businesses. I also want to reduce these regulations.

Scillian: That’s time. And in fact as I’m watching the clock here trying to do the math in my head, knowing that you both have closing statements still to make. I’d like to get to two more questions so with moderator’s prerogative here we’re going to move to one-minute answers, and there will be no rebuttals on these two because I would like to get to two questions that came into us from viewers and the first one is this: you are both — Senator Young you’ll be answering this first — you’re both Democrats. Detroit gets millions of dollars in federal funding for combating blight, creating jobs, building transportation. So I guess the question for both of you is: how do you, at a time that has become very politically polarized in Washington, how do you work with the Trump administration to keep Detroit in the best graces of the federal reliance that we have? Senator Young, a minute on this.

Young: Well what I want to do is I want to be able to reach out. I want to reach out to our federal partners I want to reach out across the aisle to make sure that we talk to people because ultimately I think there’s more of us that brings us together than that divides us. And that’s what I’m going to be doing. I think if I show them my plan to auto insurance, if I them show my plan to put people back to work, why should my plan be able to grow small businesses, if I show them the plan to be able to make sure that we can provide mass transit for the citizens of Detroit, and all the millions of dollars of events that we have going into the city of Detroit into the neighborhoods. I want to make sure that we do that. And I’m not saying that investment downtown is bad. We just want that to go throughout the neighborhoods throughout the communities, throughout Six Mile, throughout Seven Mile, throughout Eight Mile. That’s what I think I’ll be doing. I think if I show them my plan and show them what I want to do and how I want to do it, I definitely think that we’ll be able to get the federal funds that we need because Detroit is so vital to the country. We put the world on wheels. We’re also the ones that had the Motown sound. There’s so many different things that we’ve done as a city. And I think why show him all the great things that we have, I definitely think we will definitely be able to get that federal investment.

Scillian: Mayor Duggan, you’ve got a minute on the relationship between Detroit and Washington.

Duggan:  It’s the question of what have you done versus what do you say. I have built bipartisan partnerships that have delivered. I didn’t say, “Gee, I think I present something, maybe they’ll give me some money.” In December of 2015 when we were running out of blight funds and we needed $125 million, I went to Senator Debbie Stabenow and said, “I have an idea for how we get this out of Congress.” The Republicans control the House and the Senate. She went and pushed it and says, “Here are our problems, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. I went to Jamie Diamond the president of JPMorgan Morgan Chase, the largest bank in the country, who has become a believer in this administration. He got Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan on the phone, and he said whatever else you’re doing, you need to fund Detroit. Then we had a problem with a couple of liberals on the other side for an unrelated reason. I reached out to Chicago to Rev. Jesse Jackson. He got those folks on the phone, and at midnight before Christmas we got another 1$25 million, which is going to take down another 6,000 vacant homes through spring of 2019. This is the way you build bipartisan partnerships to deliver for the people.

Scillian: I’ve got time for one more one-minute answer from both of you. No rebuttal on these. That’s what I said earlier. I’m trying to get to as many viewer questions as we can. And the last one, I’d like to get to for both of you: With a balanced budget this year, the city would expect to emerge from the strict financial oversight that’s been in place since our emergence from bankruptcy. But city retirees and others endured a lot of sacrifices on Detroit’s path to recovery. What will you do as mayor to ensure that there is no slip back into the financial disaster that we’ve had before? And Mayor you’re first on this one. Sixty seconds.

Duggan: Well we just finished, in 2015, the first balanced budget in 12 years. And in 2016 the second balanced budget. And then this last June 30th, the third straight balanced budget. And I need to give credit for my partners on Detroit City Council. They have been rigorous to make sure that we watch every dollar that we have. And I do expect this spring we will be released from financial oversight. And think about where we were in bankruptcy not so long ago. And we’ve done it while at the same time adding cops, adding firefighters, adding buses. We’ve been very frugal in the way that we’re handling, and I am very pleased the fact that for the first time in 20 years that 9,000 employees of the city of Detroit, the city employee unions, are supporting the incumbent mayor because for the first time in a decade, they’re not worried about losing their jobs this Christmas.

Scillian: Senator Young, you’ve got 60 seconds on the same topic.

Young: They’re not losing their jobs this Christmas because they already lost their jobs during the bankruptcy. One, let me also say people’s pensions were cut. People’s health care was cut. What I want to do in order to make sure that we have a balanced budget is one I want to have contingency contracts. That’s basically working with people to beautify where they can find efficiencies and savings to be able to cut down costs. We also want to be able to make sure that we have staff to manage our ratios. It’s going to be hard to do this because of the plan of adjustment. So they’re not going to have the freedom that we need. And also the fact that you have the local financial review commission that I voted against that also is hindering us for being able to do these things. These are some of the things that I want to do in order to make sure that we have a balanced budget and our finances are going to get back in order. And I also want to make sure that we get the $100 million that we need from people who live in the city but who work outside of it in tax withholding

Scillian: OK, that’s going to do it for the questions. I think we managed to get to a lot of topics tonight. Time now for our closing statements. Each are going to have again a minute and a half to make your final case to the voters of Detroit during this campaign. And again this goes back to the way that the ping pong balls fell earlier as we drew for our orders so we will start the closing statements. 90 seconds for you Senator Coleman Young

Young: Thank you. I want to thank WDIV. I want to thank my opponent. I want to thank Detroit Public Television for having this debate. Chastity Pratt Dawsey did an article that said that my opponent Mike Duggan said the mayor should be judged, the standard should be whether or not he can keep the population from going down. And that if he cannot increase the population that he would not be re-elected Those are out of his own words. I just want to say: I agree. If you want somebody that’s going to fight for your jobs, fight for your houses, fight to make sure you have water in the house, fight to stop this racist auto insurance redlining in the city of Detroit, fight for those mothers who’ve been killed on the street due to gun violence by making sure police officers are on the block, fight to make sure that we raise the minimum wage to $15 for a mother who has to work two or three jobs and to make ends meet, fight to make sure for those families, those women who work who are overworked and underpaid. If you want a man who’s going to stand up and fight for what’s right and what’s true, vote Coleman Alexander Young the second. It is time to take back the motherland. It is time to take our freedom back. Vote for change. Vote for Coleman Young for Mayor

Scillian: Mr. Young thank you very much. Mayor Duggan, your closing statements and again you’ve got a minute 30 for that.

Duggan: Senator Young’s right. I set as a goal that after 60 straight years of losing population I want to see us growing. We’ve gone from losing 20,000 people a year to last year losing 3,000 — the smallest amount in 60 years. I believe this year we’ll be gaining. But I’ll leave it to the people of the city of Detroit. Whether you want me to finish the job, because now with the hard part. We’ve got to extend the development in downtown and Midtown, spread it all through the neighborhoods. We’ve got to take those folks who feel like they’ve been left behind in their comeback and make them a part of it. And here’s how we’re going to do it: The $60 million that we have lined up in this Strategic Neighborhood Funds is about to go into these neighbors It started already in West Village and in the Fitzgerald neighborhoods, filling in houses, filling in storefronts. The $80 million to build those shopping corridors back so you’ll have a walkable neighborhood. I’m very proud of the fact next year we’re going to start off a $700 million infrastructure program building new water mains and paving the roads. It’s all been funded between our bond issues and our regional water deal, $700 million to put Detroiters back to work. And for those who want to go to college, the Detroit Promise guarantees it to you because you’re in high school, and if you don’t want to go to college, the Detroit At Work training program, we’ve got 20,000 more Detroiters working. But if we haven’t reached you, go to the Detroit At Work web site, and we’ve got jobs right now in hospital systems and in skilled trades and in manufacturing facilities. When I was elected mayor four years ago it was the greatest honor in my life. I know the job is not done, but if you give me one more term I’ll do everything I can to build one Detroit for all of us.

Scillian: Gentlemen thank you both so much this evening. Our thanks to current Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, state Senator Coleman Young II for a very informative and engaging hour. Thank you both so much.


  • Sandra Svoboda
    Recovering Bankruptcy Reporter/Blogger looking forward to chronicling regional revitalization on-air, digitally and through community engagement.