muckraker report

Perennial mayoral candidate: Mike Duggan “doesn’t even have a Detroit accent”

Tom Barrow

Mayoral candidate Tom Barrow

What was supposed to be a debate among Detroit’s mayoral candidates devolved into name-calling, shouting and some good-old fashioned racism.

Perennial candidate, Tom Barrow, got personal with Mike Duggan, a white candidate and former Wayne County prosecutor.

“He doesn’t even have a Detroit accent,” Barrow said to some applause at the Galilee Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit. “He has no idea what it is we’re about.”

Duggan, who was born and raised in Detroit, but moved to the suburbs as an adult, did not back down.

“In 25 years of Democratic meetings, I never saw Tom Barrow show up to one of them,” Duggan said to applause.

Barrow has spent much of his campaign trying to get Duggan removed from the ballot, an effort that has so far failed.

The debate got off to a wild start when one of the candidates, John Telford, was escorted from the building when he began loudly complaining that he was not invited to participate.

During the debate, many of the six candidates lost their cool and spoke over each other as the crowd grew rowdy. At one point, candidate Lisa Howze, threw her hands in the air in frustration with the moderators.

“The rules have been broken all night,” Howze complained. “They aren’t consistent.”


The candidates eventually got around to talking about the issues but were often interrupted by one another.

Steve Neavling

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.

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  • Byron

    Real useful comments there, Tom.

  • exLibtard

    “He doesn’t even have a Detroit accent,” Barrow said to some applause at the Galilee Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit. “He has no idea what it is we’re about.”

    He could have simplified things and simply said: “He’s not a niqqer and so he has no idea what it is we’re about.”

  • Laurel Tondreau

    The focus of this race must remain professional and deal strictly with the issues and character of those who want to really help the struggling city of Detroit. Is Michael Duggan the right choice? I don’t think so. The saying is true. History speaks for itself. He doesn’t possess the basic characteristics of integrity and honesty. This race is just a stepping stone for the future goals in his plans. It will be easier to make a run for governor if he’s held a political seat. Does he care about the city of Detroit or it’s people. No. Again he’ll take a job in which he has no qualifications. He’ll sit back with his feet propped up on the desk and others like an appointed Emergency Manager will make the decisions. He’ll take the pay and the title. This isn’t new behavior….history repeats itself. Remember his days in Wayne County? Corruption. His partner from his Wayne County days appointed him CEO of the DMC. Was he qualified. No. Did he take the position? Absolutely. It was a pretty nice salary. Again he sat with his feet propped on the desk and other management made the decisions. He bailed before the fall and now Van Guard will take the blame. Does Detroit need him? Absolutely not. It is so difficult for me to see any news broadcasts showing Michael Duggan. I worked at one of his facilities. I wish I had the physical strength and mind to knocked personally on every door in Detroit. I would also speak in their churches. Michael Duggan should not be Mayor of Detroit. The one comparison that always comes to mind when I hear his name is “HE was prosecuted under Pontius Pilot, was crucified, died and was buried. Please don’t let this happen to Detroit.

  • Ignot

    Right now the largest African American city in the country has had its democratic rights stripped from them.
    1 in 2 black males are being used as slave labor in private prisons. Mostly for nonviolent crimes like possession of marijuana. A crime which white people are just as likely to commit but has almost no chance of being enslaved over.
    Meanwhile a man that doesn’t meet the requirements to run for a position that had most of its power stripped from it, calls racism because someone pointed this fact out!?
    This is why no one takes white people seriously when they cry racism. There’s real racism out there and it destroys families and communities.

    • Nick Burke

      You are a perfect example of a Detroit, that’s why I don’t go to Detroit.

  • Ken L. Harris

    Congratulations to Detroit Mayoral Candidate Benny Napoleon Endorsement by the Mighty 14th Congressional District Representing an Estimated 350,000 Detroit Voters. Benny Won by an Overwhelming Majority 90% of the Districts Vote Today. Community vs. the Mainstream Media.

  • Damian Bullis

    I love the reporting on this site but to call ignorant remarks towards a white mayoral candidate as “racism” is cheap and misleading.

  • cattgirl0813

    Here’s a better question: How come debates with Detroit candidates always turn into a chaotic and pointless shouting match? This debate started with a (fringe) candidate yelling about not being included – a potentially valid point undermined by the way it was delivered. The debate ended with another candidate frustrated by the lack of consistent moderation. In between, the candidates repeatedly spoke over and yelled at each other – hopefully in “Detroit accents” so as not to seem inauthentic. We can’t have a viable government if we can’t even get the candidates who want our vote to behave in a reasonable, intelligent fashion. This is a disgrace.

    • cattgirl0813

      Here’s another more pertinent question: Can Mr. Barrow even hold public office? He has a felony record involving financial crimes. I thought state law prevented him from legally taking office should the unthinkable happen and he get elected.

      • Geoffrey L. Garfield

        First, Tom Barrow’s tax issues were OVERTURNED by the US Tax Court in 2009 where the judge admonished IRS agents for plugging Barrow’s tax records and denying him access to his own records. That is a fact, he should not have been convicted at all! Second, convicted felons are not allowed if they were convicted of a felony while in office. Third, the “he doesn’t have a Detroit accent” was coined in 2009 when Tom Barrow said the same thing about Dave Bing, again, to emphasize his outsider status. Nothing naive about that, I help make up these jokes and hype lines so that people like you repeat and discuss. Mission accomplished.

        • cattgirl0813

          Thank you for answering my question about whether felons can hold office, Mr. Garfield. I’m not sure what you meant by “people like me,” but your tone fits right into the state of local politics. And while Mr. Barrow’s tax issues may have been overturned, his convictions still stand based on decisions made in state and federal courts. That means he’s still a convicted felon with a history of financial malfeasance and a campaign record that is comical at best and tragically inept at worst. If you are a Barrow supporter, Mr. Garfield, I wish you the best in supporting your candidate. I, however, am not, and will continue to look for a candidate with a better record and one without a history of name calling and resorting to tactics like the “s/he doesn’t have a ‘Detroit accent'” to support. Detroit can, and does deserve someone better in office in my opinion. Good day to you, and be well.

          • Jared

            Cattgirl, Mr. Garfield is more than “a Barrow supporter”…a quick Google search reveals that he’s Barrow’s campaign manager, a fact I’ve noticed he manages to avoid mentioning.

          • Tracey

            Thanks Jared. That explains quite a bit.

  • Glgarfield

    So, where in Detroit was Duggan’s “raised”? Thought he was born in a Detroit white hospital but grew up in good ol’ Livonia. And Tom Barrow has not spent “much of his campaign” on Diggan’s residency issue (which should be important to everyone), that’s only two weeks old. And where is the racism in saying “He doesn’t even have a Detroit accent”? That’s a clever construction to emphasie that Diggan,Ike Bing, does not relate to the average Detroiter. Way too sensitive on this one.

    • Mindyj

      The “accent” comment was clearly racially charged. Don’t be naiive.

    • Michael Douglas Cosgrove

      So..sorry I guess I wasn’t really a Detroiter in your book of perfect rules. Because I was born in a white GP hospital but lived in Detroit through the 60’s to 90’s. If you think Uncle Tom wasn’t trying to stir up race (and I do recall him be labeled that at one time) you’re full of it.

    • Nick Burke

      So would you like to elect a high school drop out who can’t read considering the fact that 1/2 of the city’s residents are illiterate? Does that “relate to the average Detroiter”?

  • Carolyn King Kernohan

    seems to be the normal for Detroit now sad to say….

  • Lynne Bowbeer

    I appreciate your reporting.