After much consideration, embattled Mayor Dave Bing plans to run for re-election in an effort to solve the budget crisis, friends and political allies of the mayor told Motor City Muckraker.
Michigan officials also have been pressing the mayor privately to run for re-election because he has been relatively supportive of state intervention, according to Lansing sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to comment on the issue.
Since the seven-time NBA All-Star was hospitalized in March and April with lung and colon problems, presumably from stress, rumors have been rampant that the 68-year-old mayor won’t run for re-election in November 2013.
“The mayor is not someone who will give up on something he cares so deeply about – and that’s the transformation of Detroit,” one source said. “He knows in his heart that he’s ready for the challenges that come with a second term. You have to appreciate his commitment.”
The Mayor’s Office wouldn’t confirm the news.
“Mayor Bing has made no official announcement or pronouncement about his decision to run for re-election,” mayoral spokeswoman Naomi Patton said.
Pledging to end corruption and more than a decade of deficit spending, Bing became mayor in May 2009 during a special election to fill the position made vacant by disgraced ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Bing handedly won his first full-term in November 2009.
Political observers have questioned whether the mayor has lost the faith of city residents or whether he’s quietly gained the support of a silent majority.
Bing inherited a problem much worse than anyone could have imagined: City departments were rife with corruption, complacency and incompetence. The city’s budget was a disaster. And City Council was a constant impediment.
Bing appeared to be gaining support among Detroiters until he announced the city was nearly broke last fall. To avoid a full state takeover, the mayor signed a controversial consent agreement with Gov. Rick Snyder that gives the city some leverage to handle the budget crisis.
But many Detroiters believe the state intervention is antidemocratic and an effort to rob the city of its jewels, such as Belle Isle. Protests and loud outbursts at public meetings have followed as activists charged the mayor was not defiant enough.
But public-opinion polls have showed that a majority of residents are more concerned with services than who delivers them.
Perhaps what will determine the fate of the election more than Bing’s position on state intervention is his competition.
At least three big names have shown interest in a run: State Rep. Lisa Howze, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon and Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan.
“Is there a concern the mayor won’t win re-election?” another source close to the mayor asked. “That fears is always there. But as you know, the mayor is not someone who will cower at a challenge. His heart is set on fixing Detroit.”
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.