A former medical center chief defeated a county sheriff to become the next mayor of financially troubled Detroit, though the job holds little power while the city is being run by a state-appointed emergency manager.
Unofficial returns showed Mike Duggan defeating Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon 55 percent to 45 percent. Napoleon conceded defeat late Tuesday in a race where he was outspent by Duggan by about 3-to-1 heading into Tuesday's election.
Both candidates had said during the campaign that the state-appointed emergency manager should leave the city and allow the new mayor to fix Detroit's finances when he takes office in January.
"I'm going to try to shorten Kevyn Orr's stay," Duggan told The Associated Press heading into the election.
But the reality is that Duggan will have little power under emergency manager Kevyn Orr, who in July filed to take Detroit into bankruptcy.
Duggan, an ex-county prosecutor and former chief of the Detroit Medical Center, said he wants to convince Orr's boss, Gov. Rick Snyder, to allow him to develop a team and a plan to resuscitate the city's fiscal condition if elected mayor.
Both Duggan and Napoleon campaigned on fixing Detroit's deteriorating neighborhoods and reducing the high crime rate in a city that struggles to respond to 911 calls on time. Detroit has more than 30,000 vacant houses and buildings. Bing's administration has demolished about 10,000 empty and dangerous houses during his four-year term.
But anything the new mayor wants done that requires money must first get Orr's approval.
Snyder did not endorse a candidate, but after testimony last week in bankruptcy court, he held firm in his decision to appoint Orr and keep him in place until Detroit emerges from bankruptcy and its finances are fixed.
"Detroit's fiscal crisis was six decades in the making," Snyder said in a statement. "My job is to make the tough decisions to resolve the problems we face today, not ignore them."
Detroit's mayor cannot remove Orr. Under state law, that only can be done by the governor or an act of the state legislature. However, once Orr's 18-month contract ends a supermajority vote by the city council and mayor can choose not to renew it.
Current Mayor Dave Bing did not seek re-election. He has always been opposed to Detroit having an emergency manager and has been frustrated by the relationship he has with Orr, saying that Orr hasn't communicated well with the mayor's office.
Duggan becomes Detroit's first white mayor since the early 1970s. The city is more than 80 percent black.
After speaking with Duggan after his win Tuesday night, Orr released this statement:
"In this time of important change for the city, Detroiters have come together to voice their desire for progress. I look forward to working with Mayor-elect Mike Duggan to build the vibrant and strong future the citizens of Detroit deserve. I also want to commend Mayor Dave Bing for his effort at pursuing the important restructuring the City needs to move forward; the City will always be in his debt. Finally, I want to thank Sheriff Benny Napoleon both for his participation in this important election and for his many years of dedicated public service to Detroit and Wayne County."
Orr said his office in the coming days will meet with Mayor-elect Duggan to discuss their future collaboration on Detroit’s turnaround.