(Reuters) – Detroit, saddled with $18 billion in debt, has filed for bankruptcy. Crime is rampant, and the city cannot provide its depleted population with basic services. So why would anyone want to run for mayor, especially when a state-appointed emergency manager has all the power anyway?
“That’s a question I get asked all the time, because some people do wonder why they (the candidates) would want the job,” said Bill Ballenger, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics. “But there is an opportunity here to achieve things that no mayor has been able to do for the past 30 years.”
For at least that long, the city’s political class has mostly failed to address the city’s ever-expanding fiscal problems. Corruption has dogged Detroit, especially under former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who was sentenced to 28 years in prison last month after a series of scandals that left the city worse off.
Detroit’s voters go to the polls on Tuesday and face a choice between Mike Duggan, a former chief executive of a Detroit hospital, and Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.
Duggan is widely expected to win, which would make him Detroit’s first white mayor since 1974. But whoever prevails will take office under Kevyn Orr, the emergency manager appointed in March by Michigan’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, to tackle Detroit’s fiscal crisis.