Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

August 6, 2013

Bankruptcy clouds mayoral primary

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DETROIT (AP) — More than a dozen candidates were running in Tuesday's primary for Detroit mayor, an office with little immediate power because most operations are being run by an emergency manager seeking to take the city into bankruptcy.

None of the candidates has name recognition outside the city like current Mayor Dave Bing, a former NBA great who opted not seek another four-year term.

The leading candidates to replace him are a former police chief, a perennial mayoral candidate, a fired city attorney and a one-time medical center chief who has launched a write-in campaign. Another write-in candidate is a barber with a similar name, raising the potential that some voters could be confused.

Uncertainty and failure have been standard operating procedure for years in once-mighty Detroit. Last month, it became the largest city in the U.S. to declare bankruptcy under the weight of massive debt brought on by crushing population decline and a history of political corruption and mismanagement.

Some of the favorites for mayor have come out against the bankruptcy filing and contend the man who made the filing — state-appointed turnaround expert Kevyn Orr — is holding the job illegally.

The top two vote-getters in Tuesday's nonpartisan primary will face off in the November general election. That winner moves into City Hall with a title, $158,000 salary and — as things stand now — little else.

Sheila Cockrel, a former Detroit councilwoman and founder of a government relations and advocacy firm, said the bankruptcy proceedings are sure to hover over the next mayor's first term.

"There's no roadmap of where or how this would go," she said.

Only about 15 percent to 17 percent of Detroit's registered voters are expected to cast ballots Tuesday, according to city elections officials.

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