A slew of candidates are fighting in an election for the right to helm a city that is the municipal equivalent of the Titanic.
Tuesday is primary day in Detroit as voters cast their ballots for the next mayor to inherit $18 billion in debt and a city that is the first of its size to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy last month.
The job of mayor of Detroit may seem like one nobody would want – and yes, even the eligible incumbent, Dave Bing, isn’t running – but this group of five men and woman claim to be up for the task.
Five of the major candidates (over a dozen are running) are Detroit natives and have varying experience in law, accounting and public service.
They include: Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napolean; Detroit lawyer Krystal Crittendon; founder of Barrow & Aldridge accounting firm Tom Barrow; public accountant Lisa Howze; and former CEO of the Detroit Medical Center Mike Duggan, who has launched a write-in campaign.
Robert Johnson, a Detroit native and senior fellow at the progessive Roosevelt Institute, said the incoming mayor needs to be dynamic person.
“The next mayor needs to have sophistication about finance, but not be in love with finance,” he said. “He has to be in love with the city and the people, but be masterful in the way he structures those finances to help those people.”
Johnson said he is not surprised so many people have put their names in the hat to lead the troubled city of Detroit. He said he and his friends have fond memories of the city and want to see it succeed.
If Critterdon or Howze win, they would make history as the first female mayor of Detroit in the city's 331-year history.
Detroit’s election process is unique in that it runs on a non-partisan basis. That means the top two candidates of Tuesday’s primary will move on to the Nov. 5 election, regardless of party affiliation. Polls close at 8 p.m.
Bankruptcy was an eventuality for Detroit because its financial problems run so deep, but Johnson said he thinks this is the city’s chance to start fresh.
Gov. Rick Snyder appointed Kevin Orr as an emergency manager to help save the ailing city, and the position comes with unlimited power, according to The Associated Press. It is unclear whether Orr will continue to serve that position when a new mayor is appointed, and many of the candidates have said they would fire him.