Two days before the election, a confident Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan issued a political threat to those Detroit legislators in Lansing who voted against HB 5013, the failed auto insurance reform bill.
Speaking at Little Rock Baptist Church, Duggan said that if re-elected he plans to campaign against every one of those lawmakers next August. All because they stood in the way of the mayor’s attempt to address the high cost of auto insurance for city residents.
The perceived political retribution or vengeance the mayor promised to unleash against those who disagreed with him on policy does not bode well as he begins a second term.
It stands contrary to the spirit of collaboration, togetherness and partnerships that should herald this new era.
The comments were baffling and troubling at the same time because the mayor should have been sounding a more reconciliatory and humble tone and vowing to get things right, especially on this issue, the next time around.
Instead the soon-to-be re-elected mayor vowed to seek to punish the critics who thought his proposed legislation would shortchange Detroiters on the issue of auto insurance rates.
The fact that such a declaration of political war came at a church also devalues the symbolism of that institution as a credible medium for peace and reconciliation.
If Duggan follows through with his threat, it will undermine a second term whose agenda should be focused on neighborhood revitalization.
Right now Detroiters want their mayor to deliver much needed services and transform the many neighborhoods that are visions of misery and economic desolation. That has been the cry of the last four years.
Thus the next four years should be about rebuilding neighborhoods that are some of the worst places for raising a family and offer some of the poorest options for children to grow up in this city, and taking steps to break the cycle of inter-generational poverty that many have been confined to for decades.
Many of the residents in those neighborhoods may never experience the gist of upward mobility just because of geography and circumstances of birth. And without the support of decision-makers like the mayor, those residents may be forced to continue to live amid highly concentrated poverty.
That is why, regardless of how anybody feels about the election outcome, and despite the troubling low voter turnout, it is time to rally around the mayor and ensure that he delivers game-changing results on the issues of poverty and other challenges facing many residents.
As Detroit City Councilwoman Raquel Castenada-Lopez sees it, economic inclusion should be the principal focus for the next four years, and Detroiters expect her and others to do due diligence by raising questions on any development proposals that come before the City Council requesting tax subsidies.
In this new dispensation, the tone the mayor sets will be crucial in achieving needed revitalization of the city. It will help determine the kind of support he gets across the board in driving an inclusive agenda.
And the mayor must lead the way and bring everybody to the table — including those who disagree with him — and apply the best innovative ideas to create a real turnaround.
As Duggan and his administration begin to chart the agenda for the next four years, they should be open to contrarian views. That will only help the mayor become the leader that a cross section of Detroiters want.
At the end of the day, Mike Duggan should aspire to be remembered for positively changing the lives of Detroiters in the neighborhoods and not for bullying and pummeling perceived and actual opponents.
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