Next Detroit Mayor Will Not Save The City

Despite some hope that the next mayor of Detroit will push the city forward after it comes out of bankruptcy next year, that may be a false hope.

Detroit mayor Mike Duggan

Detroit mayoral candidate Mike Duggan speaks to a crowd during a campaign event.  Duggan is expected to win tomorrow's election for Mayor of Detroit, but he is powerless for the time being.

Detroit faces an election for its next mayor tomorrow.  Competing are a former hospital executive, Mike Duggan and the county sheriff, Benny Napoleon.  If the election looks and feels kind of awkward, that is because it is:  The Mayor and City Council of Detroit currently have no power, following being taken over by governor-appointed Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.  Orr has been responsible for managing the city since March 2013, and moved (with Governor Rick Snyder's approval) to file Detroit for bankruptcy.  While it is possible that Orr will end his administration of Detroit next year, and the city will come out of its likely bankruptcy, the political problems that led to Detroit's downfall remain partly in place, and the city will continue to struggle..

The main problem has been uncertainty over Detroit's management.  Even though Kevyn Orr is slated to end his emergency manager term in September 2014 and return power to the Mayor and City Council, Snyder, who is currently projected to be re-elected Governor in 2014, may push to extend Orr's term for however long he feels it should take to get Detroit to get to an "acceptable" level.  That could mean when Detroit gets out of its presumed bankruptcy, but it could also be longer than that, to "assure" Snyder that the restructuring plans are moving forward.  In other words, Snyder may just use that "assurance" to cover up his dislike of the Mayor or the City Council and extend Orr's term.

Detroit Mayor Benny Napoleon

Wayne County Sheriff and Detroit mayoral candidate Benny Napoleon speaks to reporters at a campaign hall.

There is also the matter of Detroit's City Council.  Three of the nine council seats are vacant, likely to remain so until 2015, after a new election in 2014.  The remainder, with the exception of former interim Mayor Kenneth Cockrel, Jr. (himself not seeking re-election in 2014), are relative neophytes to Detroit politics.  While they are likely clean of the corruption that has plagued Detroit politics over the decades of its decline, they are likely inexperienced to face a new Detroit that comes out of bankruptcy clear of its debt burdens, one where they will likely have more restraints placed on them.

Detroit's collapse can be seen by some as a refrain of the decline of America: Rather than attempting to fix obvious problems from the beginning, the city let certain things slide that only caused its problems to exasperate.  While hipsters and big firms attempt to revive the city from its possible doom, Detroit is likely unprepared to accept what is being thrust on its shoulders.  A new mayor is unlikely to change that.

(Media Source: Reuters)

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