The worst kept secret in Detroit became known to all on February 26, 2013: A white man announced he was running for the office of mayor of the Detroit, Michigan.
Yes, you read it right, a white man is running for mayor of the – say it loud, I’m BLACK AND PROUD – city.
Detroit is not just 87 percent black, but has an all-black City Council and a history of electing only blacks since 1973. Elected officials have strong civil rights connections, black church connections, and NAACP connections.
The only connection that the opponents of Mike Duggan say he has is the “Big Ed” connection – as in Ed McNamara. According to them, that is a bad connection. They have tried to make the case that those McNamara mentored were not good people, but political junkies and thieves.
Well, let’s look at some of the things that made Big Ed the man he was in 40 years of WayneCounty political life.
Raised a poor Catholic in the Brightmoor neighborhood in Detroit, he became a Dearborn Heights school board member, a city councilman, and mayor of Livonia. McNamara became Wayne County Executive in 1987 – holding the position until 2003.
What did he do as Wayne County Executive?
He built things. Bus systems that worked, and a commodious and functional terminal that has become a world standard for airport terminals. He played a major role in negotiating deals for Detroit’s new baseball and football stadiums. He eliminated a $135 million deficit and restored the county’s bond rating with Wall Street.
What would have happened if McNamara and Dennis Archer had had four more years together to make Detroit a “World Class City?”
Ed McNamara was a great mentor who was also colorblind. He helped make Jennifer Granholm, Mike Duggan, Freman Hendrix, Kwame Kilpatrick and Saul Green. That is an impressive list. Some turned out not so good – but all did great things to advance the state and city in many ways. The failures of one to see the path of righteousness does not make “Big Ed” a crook. Remember, “Big Ed” was never charged with anything.
“McNamara cared about local government and making neighborhoods work,” said former Gov. Jim Blanchard.
“To those of us who had the privilege of working for him, he gave a sense of possibility, toughness and duty to serve others,” said former Gov. J. Granholm.
The question remains: Will enough people under 60 who see things differently from those of us over 60 (who see all politics as an issues of black and white) vote? Can Detroiters vote based on the best person to lead the city out of this crisis, regardless of skin color?