Mike Duggan: the comeback is not done in Detroit

- It's been four years since Mike Duggan waged a write-in campaign for mayor in Detroit and was elected mayor. Four years later, he's hoping for a second term and is up against a man with a familiar name in the Motor City: Coleman Young Jr.

This is half of our two-part series featuring the two candidates for Detroit Mayor. We also featured Sen. Coleman Young Jr. here. Watch the full profile on Duggan in the video above and don't forget to VOTE on Tuesday.

VOTING INFO: https://webapps.sos.state.mi.us/MVIC/

In the four years since taking office, Detroit has emerged from bankruptcy with a vengeance. And the man in the big office in Detroit, Mike Duggan, is getting the credit. 

Mayor Mike Duggan wants Detroiters to focus on the future. He doesn't like to look backwards but the view isn't so bad. Since he took office, the city has knocked down nearly 13,000 abandoned buildings, police and fire response times have been cut, and the city has helped thousands of young people find summer jobs.

"This is what every week is like for me. We're reopening parks in neighborhoods that thought they were forgotten, we're paving streets on blocks where people felt like the city didn't care about them, and we have more people working today than we've had in 15 years. So I think people feel like we're making progress and we're just going to keep going."

With big new public spaces, people and the Pistons are returning to Detroit and cranes dot the skyline again. But you might be surprised to hear what Duggan considers his most significant achievement. 

"I think the most important accomplishment is we've changed the tone of politics in the city. Four years ago, you had the mayor fighting with council, the mayor fighting with Lansing, the mayor fighting with unions, and we were always being embarrassed," Duggan said. "I think the tone is a big part of why businesses and people are coming back."

Young wants voters to pay closer attention to the recent past. Specifically, the city's demolition program where state officials have accused the city of misusing some demolition funds. While Duggan didn't agree with all of the state's findings, the city returned more than $6 million - which the state just sent back to the city so it could knock down more homes.

Young also claims Duggan engaged in bid-rigging and collusion by meeting with some demolition contractors to set prices.

"We were trying to get them in. There was a negotiated price, there's no question about it," Duggan said.

Wayne State Law Professor Stephen Calkins, an expert on anti-trust matters, said what happened doesn't sound like bid rigging or collusion - which happens when vendors set prices and the customer isn't in on the negotiations. Nevertheless, a federal grand jury is investigating the city's demolition program.

Duggan says if someone did something wrong, they should be charged and that the feds are doing what they're supposed to be doing.

Duggan has done well in his trips to Washington and Lansing, bringing home more than $100 million for Detroit projects. Still, one of the top goals from his 2013 campaign remains elusive: the state rejected his latest effort to lower insurance rates last week. Duggan promises to try again.

When pressed about who deserves most of the credit for Detroit's resurgence - Duggan, the Ilitches, or Dan Gilbert - Duggan said he doesn't care who gets the credit, he just wants to make sure it continues.
 

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