^ Former Med Center CEO Mike Duggan / Wayne County Sheriff Ben Napoleon

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Yesterday, Detroit voters chose the two finalists who will compete to be the City’s next Mayor : Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon and former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan. Napoleon led the printed ballot overwhelmingly. Duggan, however, who had to run as a write-in because he turned in his nomination papers two weeks before he qualified as a city resident.

Still, the results were quite clear. As published by the Free Press, “with 100% of the precincts reporting, (Benny) Napoleon had 28,352 votes or 30% of the total votes cast, to 50,328 votes or 53% for write-in candidates, with (Mike) Duggan presumably garnering the vast majority of those. Duggan said about 97% of write-ins were (for him).”

Total turn-out was low — about 18 % of Detroit’s registered — but higher than prerdicted.

Duggan’s 52 % of the vote, as a write-in, shows that committed voters know very well what they are about. Pundits, especially many who presume to represent today’s version of the GOP, incline to doubt that inner-city people of color, many of them living in poverty, can vote intelligently and negotiate such intricacies as a write-in vote. Anyone who has ever worked a campaign in a large American city knows this put-down to be utterly untrue; yesterday’s 50,328 write-in votes — 97 % for Duggan — disproves these pundits’ nonsense beyond all doubt. Indeed, the city’s write-in voters had to spell Duggan’s name correctly, as there was also another write-in candidacy for a man of the last name “Dugeon.” 97 % of Detroit’s write-in voters knew the difference and knew which difference they wanted. That, dear Here and Sphere readers, is informed voting.

That Mike Duggan happens to be White, in a city in which four of every five voters is of color,l also says something about informed voting and the readiness of voters disparaged by “conservative” pundits to select precisely. Obviously, many Detroit voters have had enough of Mayors who have coasted to office on assumption that voters of color will always vote for mayors of color. Detroit looks to be rising from its ashes, and a substantial portion of its voters are ready to endorse whomever seems likelier to extend that rise. As a successful executive, Mike Duggan clearly made sense to such voters. Thanks to Duggan and his Primary voters, even if, in November, Detroit chooses Benny Napoleon, a man of color and a successful county official, skin color will likely not be the determinant that it has long been presumed.

Indeed, the issue between Duggan and Napoleon is one familiar across most of today’s political America : should local control be led by neighborhood activists or by businessmen ? Duggan says that as a business CEO, he can better convince Michigan’s Governor Snyder to return management of the city to the Mayor’s office — today the city is run by Kevyn Orr, an administrator appointed by Snyder. Napoleon, on the other hand, stresses that citizen involvement, in the neighborhoods — led by him — will free the city from State management sooner.

Either course begins as soon as the next mayor is chosen and well before power to run Detroit is returned to its Mayor pursuant to the city successfully presenting a bankruptcy reorganization plan. Yesterday’s vote starts a saga of a city rising from past miscarriages — the primary of skin color among them.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere