Mike Duggan might be an interesting politician to follow

Mike Duggan became Mayor of Detroit last night with over 55 percent of the vote, becoming Detroit’s first white Mayor since 1974. It was a wild ride for Duggan — he got kicked off the primary ballot and had to run as a write-in, ultimately getting 48K write-in votes to advance to the general election. This jingle might have helped:

The Detroit Mayoral race was hardly the main event last night — that was probably the Virginia Governor race, and maybe the NYC Mayoral / NJ Governor races as well. There’s no shortage of thought about what those mean: here, here, here and here. This Detroit Mayoral election could be among the more interesting from a civic perspective, though: Detroit is a broken city, but startups and promising new projects are heading there. There’s $250 billion on the table, and maybe that’s what this election was really about. He has a lot of collaboration ahead of him, especially with Kevyn Orr. Orr, the city’s emergency manager, can focus on the debt issue now that there’s a day-to-day operations person running the show (and a popularly-elected one, at that). The City Council will be fairly green, though.

Duggan required his campaign staff to volunteer in the city, and took over Detroit Medical Center at a time when it had just lost $500 million. His ‘turnaround specialist’ mentality might be exactly what Detroit needs right now.

I know this is a fuzzy-lens narrative, but Detroit is representative of some of what makes America great — especially as showcased in the rise of the auto industry. They could use some help on the food front (although not as much as we want to think), and their economy needs a good deal of help, but … the future should be bright for the city. People are determined to bring it back.

Duggan has already extended hands to unions, who primarily supported his opponent. When I classify him as ‘an interesting politician to follow’ in the title here, I don’t mean because he’s poised to make a bigger move in his career; the dude’s in his mid-50s. I mean that the turnaround of Detroit, in which he’ll play some sort of role, is an interesting story to follow; America’s industrial capital becomes America’s first officially bankrupt city, and then the ‘spirit of America’ drives it back to great heights? Everyone wants to believe that can happen, and a ‘turnaround specialist’ is a good start. This election was about way more than race. 

In addition to kicking outside interests out, Duggan’s plans were rooted in the future of neighborhoods. A white Mayor in an 80 percent black city might be a tough sell, but Duggan could be the right fit for the (hopefully inevitable) glory restoration of Motown.

Ted Bauer