As the beleaguered Motor City searches for help out of its deep economic holes, voters seem prepared to shake things up Tuesday by electing the first white mayor in 40 years.
Former healthcare executive Mike Duggan, 55, is known for pulling Detroit’s hospital system from the brink of bankruptcy and the 82 percent black city is poised to choose him over their history of choosing a mayor who looks like they do.
If Duggan beats his African-American opponent, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, it will be a first since Coleman Young set a new precedent as the city’s first black mayor in 1974.
And the win appears likely. A poll released last week showed Napoleon lagging well behind Duggan, who also holds an almost 3-to-1 fundraising and spending edge.
Though Duggan, who is a recent transplant to Detroit, is somewhat of an outsider, even a leader of black nationalist group New Black Panther Nation supports him.
‘In the last two national elections, African Americans have asked the nation to choose the best person for the job and not get caught up in colour. And twice, Barack Obama has won,’ said Malik Shabazz, who’s known for leading provocitve protests and calls to violence against the white establishment.
‘Now, in Detroit, in 2013, the best man running is a white brother, and that’s OK,’ he said.
Duggan’s rise to prominence has been anything but typical.