When Coleman A. Young became the first black mayor of Detroit in 1973, he built a talented and loyal team to oversee a progressive agenda of civil rights, economic justice and neighborhood improvements.
For many Detroiters, Young ushered in a long-awaited era of black empowerment and pride, combatting racism and poverty when no one else would.
More than four decades later, the former mayor’s son, state Sen. Coleman Young II, is trying to unseat Mike Duggan, the city’s first white mayor in 40 years.
But Sen. Young won’t have the support of 25 former members of his father’s administration because they endorsed Duggan on Tuesday.
The endorsements threaten to undermine Young’s strategy to cast Duggan as out of touch with the challenges facing the neighborhoods and black community.
The former administration officials cited Duggan’s work in the neighborhoods as a key reason for endorsing him.
“Mayor Duggan has a proven track record of improving neighborhoods and creating opportunities for Detroiters, just like Mayor Young did,” said Larry Simmons, the former mayor’s 3rd deputy chief of police and executive assistant of political affairs. “That’s the kind of leader Detroit needs, and that’s why I’m supporting Mike Duggan for Mayor of Detroit.”
Young said he was disappointed with the endorsements and questioned the motives.
“None of those guys would have been anything without my father,” Young told me Tuesday evening. “How much shoebox money will it take for people to sell their soul?”
Young says Duggan has failed to adequately address poverty, jobs and the loss of black businesses.
Duggan expressed gratitude for the endorsements.
“Mayor Coleman A. Young was one of the greatest mayors in American history,” Duggan said. “I’m honored – and truly grateful – to have the support of so many people who worked alongside Mayor Young as part of his administration.”
Shahida Mausi, who served as Young’s executive director of the Detroit Council of the Arts from 1982 to 1994, said Duggan is best suited to improve the city.
“My family has been in Detroit for 100 years,” Mausi said. “It’s not just newcomers who benefit from strategic redevelopment of our City. We’ve owned a home since the 1930s that is now part of the resurgence of Midtown. My grandparents were business owners on Linwood street. They employed only a few people. Today, our family-owned business employs more than 300 people. Our business has a stake in this town, and we believe Mayor Mike Duggan’s leadership will continue to enable (both native Detroiters and new Detroiters) to flourish that is in the best interest of everyone in Detroit.”
Here are the cabinet members and appointees of former Mayor Young who are supporting Duggan’s re-election campaign:
- Anthony Adams
- Marvin Beatty
- Charlie Beckham
- Bob Berg
- Linda Bernard
- Sandra Bomar-Parker
- Carol Campbell
- Ron Fleming
- Cassandra Gray
- Henry Hagood
- Sue Hamilton-Smith
- Darlene Hicks
- Marge Malarney
- Conrad Mallett Jr.
- Shahida Mausi
- Henry McClendon
- Emmett Moten
- Georgella Muirhead
- Iris Ojeda
- Juliette Okotie-Eboh
- Lorine Parker
- Lucila Ryder
- Larry Simmons
- Thomas F. Stallworth III
- Charlie Williams
Other recent endorsements of Duggan include 104 faith leaders from congregations in Detroit, Congressman John Conyers, Jr., Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, Detroit Branch NAACP President Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony and various labor unions.
The nonpartisan primary election is Aug. 8. The final two candidates face off in the general election on Nov. 7.
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.