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The 2017 Detroit Mayoral Debate [AUDIO]

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Image credit: WDET

Here’s WDET’s live blog of the debate.

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Click on the audio link above to hear the full debate.

Tonight’s debate had the candidates meeting at WDIV-TV’s studio in downtown Detroit. Anchor Devin Scillian moderated the debate with questions from Bridge magazine’s Chastity Pratt Dawsey, City Hall Reporter Christine Ferretti from The Detroit News, and WDIV Anchor Kimberly Gill.

Pratt Dawsey is scheduled to appear on Thursday’s “Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson” program on WDET. Tune in at 9 a.m. for the live show and 7 p.m. for the live broadcast to hear her talk about the event, the campaigns, and the likely outcome of the Nov. 7 election.

The Live Blog:

In his closing, Young reminded the audience that Duggan said his first term as Detroit mayor should be judged on whether the city gained population – it didn’t. Young also said he would “fight” for many issues Detroiters care about: jobs, housing, water access, “racist redlining on auto insurance,” police, “mothers killed on the streets due to gun violence,” raising the minimum wage to $15.

If you want a man who is going to fight for what’s right and true, vote for Coleman Alexander Young II. It’s time to take back the motherland,” he said.

In his closing, Duggan directly addressed the population slide, saying the decrease had slowed from about 20,000 a year to just 3,000 last year. “I’ll leave it to the city of Detroit whether you want me to finish the job,” he said. “We’ve got to take those folks who feel like they’ve been left behind in the comeback and make them a part of it.”

He cited the $60 million in the Strategic Neighborhood Fund, the focus on homes and businesses in neighborhood revitalization, and his priorities of walkable neighborhoods funded through bond issues and the regional water deal.

When I was elected as mayor four years ago, it was the greatest honor of my life,” Duggan said. “I know the job’s not done. If you give me one more term, I’ll do everything I can to build one Detroit.”

Scillian asked a question from a viewer about “how to keep Detroit in the best graces” of the federal government so funding could continue to be secured for the city.

I want to be able to reach out to our federal partners and across the aisle,” Young said. “I definitely think we’ll be able to get the federal funds that we need.”

Duggan said, again, it was a matter of “what have you done versus what you say” in criticizing Young’s response. He cited his record in getting federal money, working with Sen. Debbie Stabenow, and reaching out to banks.

And Scillian related another question from a viewer about the city’s balanced budget and its emergence from financial oversight after the bankruptcy. “What will you do to ensure there is not a slip back into the financial disaster we had before?” he asked.

Duggan said he expects the city to be released from oversight in the spring and he thanked City Council for helping the city have balanced budgets.

Young reminded the audience that people’s pensions and health care were cut as part of the bankruptcy. “It’s going to be hard to do this because of the Plan of Adjustment, we don’t have the freedom that we need,” Young said. “The local Financial Review Commission is hindering us from doing these things.” Young also said people who live in the city and work outside of it should pay income tax.

Pratt Dawsey asked if small businesses would be the key to revitalizing Detroit and, if so, how the city can support them.

Duggan said manufacturing businesses and financial institutions have increased their presence in Detroit ”but small business is the backbone” and as businesses come back, the access needs to be inclusive. He said African Americans have told him they can’t get loans, so some programs are addressing the access to capital issue. “If we get the streetscape money, a lot of small businesses are going want to be in.”

Young called for community development credit unions and business support in the neighborhoods. “We did not enforce the Community Reinvestment Act with the banks,” he said, which prevented some entrepreneurs from getting loans.

How do you convince people regionally that (transit) is important enough to spend money on?” Ferretti asked.

Young suggested Detroit have elevated magnetic electric trains on the same system as the PeopleMover that would run from New Center to Eight Mile Road.  “It’s very important that we have mass transit,” he said. “We should do better.”

Duggan said Young, as a legislator, has not done “anything” for transit. Professional management, more mechanics and drivers, federal funds — Duggan said his adminsitration added all of that as well as additional routes and some 24-hour service. “Now we need to go to the next steps. I’m already sitting down with the leaders of the three counties,” because the region needs better transit, Duggan said.t 

Young criticized the QLINE and its three-mile route.

You just keep making this stuff up. Lansing didn’t have anything to do with the QLINE and neither did I. It’s private,” Duggan responded, adding he’d like to see the QLINE expanded to run to Oakland County and up Jefferson Avenue.

Gill asked if it was the city’s responsibility to solve race-related problems in the city.

We need to have paths of opportunity,” Duggan said. With low car ownership rates and inadequate buses, transportation is an issue for Detroiters trying to get to school or jobs. Increasing training programs has been a focus of his administration, he said, as his administration “fights for the rights of Detroiters.”

Young responded: “Listen, if you’re a black person in this country, you’re three times more likely to be arrested,” he said. “We need a mayor who hears and understands the cries of the people.” A mayor, he said, should talk to people honestly about race.

Each of you has faced some tough criticism,” Pratt Dawsey said. “Why should people trust you?”

Young said he has a 10-year record of regulating marijuana, supporting civil rights, helping get money for Focus:HOPE and the Charles H. Wright Museum for African American History, and for food and heating assistance. “I think it’s time for someone who’s going to fight for you and your family … not put the people who donated millions of dollars tot his campaign to work,” he said. “I’m unbought and unbit.”

I’ve lived 30 years in public life. … Everything the senator said is flat out wrong. There was never any investigation of the DMC. … I believe people of the city will make a decision based on what they’ve seen,” Duggan said. ” The talent in this world is spread evenly” but opportunity is not. 

After the only break, Ferretti asked about addressing the disproportionately high auto insurance rates Detroiters pay.

Detroiters have been ripped off on insurance for years,” Duggan said. “Lansing has imposed this no-fault system on us. It is ridiculous.” Car insurance is high, he said, because medical costs are higher for auto accident victims. “We have proposed with the NAACP and a whole lot community organizations a plan that says ‘let’s treat Michigan like the rest of the country.’” The plan, Duggan  said, would reduce rates by 20 to 50 percent. 

Young said he would sue auto insurance companies “to stop this racist redlining,” and order the chief of police to stop asking people for their proof of insurance. “We need change,” he said.

Gill asked about balancing business and citizen needs.

Young said the lack of mass transit is a real problem. “We should be able to have a 21st-century airport,” he said. And then invoked his father again, saying city leaders should have extended mass transit to the suburbs.

Duggan then listed businesses who have announced they are moving headquarters and other operations to Detroit. “The City of Detroit is starting to win again and 20,000  more Detroiters are working today than were four years ago,” he said.

Young said the benefits are still unequal distributed. “Whatever he says he’s doing, it’s not trickling down to the people,” Young said.

But Duggan said Young has had two approaches himself: in Lansing he sponsors bills that benefit downtown businesses, but then campaigns and criticizes them.

The third question came from Pratt Dawsey, who has covered education at Bridge and the Detroit Free Press.

What does the city government need to do to help the schools recover so the schools can help the city recover?”

What the state takeover has done to the schools …. is devastating,” Duggan said. He went on to describe how he approached Detroit schools administrators to launch a job-training program. “Making sure our students are trained for the jobs of the next generation,” Duggan said is the role the city should play.

Young said the city should ensure skilled trades are taught in the schools and that community schools have wraparound services: health-care centers, tax-preparation centers to help families. He also advocated for longer school days and longer school years. “We’re living in a 21st-century world and we’re educating students in a 19th-century model.”

Then the men went on to spar over their records. Young charged Duggan has engaged in bid rigging. Duggan countered that Young has missed votes while in the Legislature.

The second question, from Ferretti, was about neighborhood development and economic revitalization.

Young answered first, saying investment was not equal across the city. “We also want to make sure that we open up the Land Bank process to allow people to buy the side lots and also to allow people to buy properties for a dollar again,” he said. He also advocated for hiring minority contractors.

Duggan responded that some vacant houses are structurally sound. “Senator Young says he wants to sell side lots, he’s a little late to the party. We’ve sold 8,200 side lots,” he said. The city, he said, has lined up $60 million in private money, which is funding projects around the city including home renovations in Old Redford, and $125 million in bonds for neighborhood improvements. “That’s the plan we have for the next four years,” he said.

Gill had the first question, asking about the city’s crime rate.

Duggan said prospective officers are graduating from the academy and joining the force. ”When you take that, combined with the strategies we’ve seen on (Project) Green Light, where 200 business have partnered with us, we believe we’re on a good track,” he said.

Young countered: “And with all that,  we are still the most violent city in America. … I want to treat violence like a virus.”And he referenced his father, quoting him that residents having jobs would solve problems. “Whatever he is talking about doing is not working,” Young said of Duggan’s work.

The candidates started with opening statements:

Duggan started by thanking WDIV and the people of the city of Detroit and recounted his accomplishments: winning four years ago as a write-in candidate, getting 65,000 street lights turned on, adding buses and police officers … among others.

Young went right to the “two Detroits” narrative: “Detroit is a tale of two cities. It’s the best of times for those who are privileged and the worst of times for everyone else.” He followed up with a bit of an attack. “Everywhere my opponent has been, there’s been a criminal investigation,” he charged.

Before the debate, there were some newsmakers outside:


We’ll start blogging when the candidates start talking. 

That’s scheduled for 8 p.m. Meanwhile, visit our Mayoral Election page that’s part of our Voter Guide. 

You can also listen to the Voter Voices that WDET reporters have collected around the city. Click here to hear what residents think is important this election year.

Watch the debate:

Tonight’s debate has the candidates meeting at WDIV-TV’s studio in downtown Detroit. Anchor Devin Scillian will moderate the debate with questions from Bridge magazine’s Chastity Pratt Dawsey, City Hall Reporter Christine Ferretti from The Detroit News, and WDIV Anchor Kimberly Gill.

Chastity is scheduled to appear on Thursday’s “Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson” program on WDET. Tune in at 9 a.m. for the live show and 7 p.m. for the live broadcast to hear her talk about the event, the campaigns, and the likely outcome of the Nov. 7 election.

WDET’s “Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson” program has hosted both candidates: Click here for Duggan and here for Young on the daily show.

Tonight's debate is taking place at WDIV's downtown Detroit studio.Quinn Klinefelter
Quinn Klinefelter

Tonight’s debate is taking place at WDIV’s downtown Detroit studio.


 2017 Local Elections: How’s metro Detroit doing?

This post is a part of 2017 Local Elections: How’s metro Detroit doing?.

This series includes WDET's coverage of candidates' in local elections -- including Detroit's mayoral, clerk and council races.

How's Detroit Doing?

This post is a part of How's Detroit Doing?.

With voices, data, news, and experiences, WDET is answering the question "How's Detroit Doing?" Find a collection of responses at howsdetroitdoing.org. If you have a question about how Detroit's doing, ask it here.

Support for WDET's work with The Detroit Journalism Cooperative comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Renaissance Journalism’s Michigan Reporting Initiative and the Ford Foundation.



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