Sen. Young agrees to debate Mayor Duggan at town hall discussion on poverty

Mayor Duggan and Sen. Young II to debate.

Sen. Coleman Young II has agreed to square off with Mayor Mike Duggan during a town hall discussion solely on poverty in Detroit.

Duggan’s campaign has not yet responded to the request by Detroit News columnist and 910AM Superstation host Bankole Th0mpson, who was a panelist during two of the three general election mayoral debates in 2013.

Duggan’s campaign first told Motor City Muckraker last week that it would agree to debate Young after the two Democrats advanced to the November mayoral election. In the primary election on Tuesday, Duggan defeated Young 67%-27%. But it’s unclear how many times Duggan is willing to debate and whether he’ll agree to speak exclusively about poverty, which has risen under his watch.

“Given the level of unacceptable poverty in this city residents need to hear from both mayoral candidates about their plan to address economic inequality that has largely defined the lives of many Detroiters,” Thompson told Motor City Muckraker. “A town hall affords the opportunity for both candidates to explain their anti-poverty plan directly before residents as well as hear from them.”

Young’s campaign said this morning that the senator is eager to continue sharing his plan on fighting poverty.

“Addressing poverty has been part of our message since Sen. Young announced getting in the race,” Young’s campaign manager Adolph Mongo said this morning. “The senator is walking through the neighborhoods and knocking on doors, and he sees the poverty every day. It’s invisible to the folks who are focused on downtown.”

Duggan drew criticism after the primary election when he dismissed the division between downtown and the neighborhoods as “fiction,” blaming the “narrative” on the media.

Truth is, poverty and home foreclosures have increased under Duggan, who has been accused of focusing more on downtown development than growing inequalities. Duggan also has demolished homes with money originally intended to help people avoid tax and bank foreclosures.

Here are the facts:

  • The poverty rate in Detroit increased from 26% in 2010 to about 40% in 2015, according to the U.S. Census.
  • The median household income declined to $26,000 in 2015, from $29,000 in 2010.
  • Longtime residents and service providers in downtown and the Cass Corridor have been displaced by predominately young, white professionals because of escalating rent.
  • Tax-foreclosed homes also reached record levels under Duggan’s watch.

Thompson wants to invite Detroiters to attend a town hall meeting at the downtown campus of Wayne County Community College District in September. He plans to host the discussion even if Duggan ducks out.

Thompson said he wants to invite all of the media to cover the discussion as opposed to giving one outlet exclusive coverage. The idea, he said, is to reach as many Detroiters as possible.

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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.