Traverse City Record-Eagle

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November 16, 2013

Duggan a mayor for post-EM Detroit

Mike Duggan is a mayor for a post-EM Detroit

Detroit voters have taken a giant step toward the resumption of self-governance by electing Mike Duggan to be their next mayor.

Since his appointment last spring by Gov. Rick Snyder, emergency manager Kevyn Orr has struggled to master two full-time jobs: restructuring the city’s onerous long-term debt and redesigning an inefficient municipal government that had ceased to deliver basic services to its residents and businesses.

Duggan’s victory frees Orr to focus all his attention on the debt, while delegating responsibility for the city’s day-to-day operations to a popularly elected leader with a track record of administrative competence.

We look forward to a new year in which Orr completes his debt-restructuring mission expeditiously and relinquishes responsibility for city services and economic redevelopment to a mayor and City Council directly accountable to Detroiters.

Tuesday’s general-election victory capped the dramatic resurrection of a campaign that seemed dead in the water four months ago after a Wayne Circuit Court judge kicked Duggan off the primary ballot for the dubious technical violation of filing his nominating petitions too early.

A long shot in any venue, write-in campaigns have long been considered doomed in a Detroit bedeviled by widespread adult illiteracy. But after overcoming his initial impulse to bow out of the mayoral race, Duggan exploited his newfound underdog status to achieve an improbable first-place primary finish.

Duggan’s write-in victory debunked conventional wisdom about Detroit voters and burnished the former Detroit Medical Center CEO’s can-do reputation. Primary runner-up Benny Napoleon attacked Duggan incessantly as an outsider, but general-election voters hungry for competence brushed aside Napoleon’s nativist campaign and embraced Duggan’s superior record of accomplishment.

Besides entering office in the shadow of an emergency manager, Duggan will contend with a reconfigured City Council dominated by newcomers. With political experience longer and deeper than either of his last three predecessors, we look to the new mayor to establish an effective governing coalition with council members who share his vision of a city that works.

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