Mayor Mike Duggan will be the first mayor to serve more than two terms since Coleman A. Young, who won five mayoral elections from 1973-1989. (City of Detroit photo)

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan cruised to a third term Tuesday, receiving three out of every four votes. But following the defeat of two incumbents, he will find himself working with a drastically reshaped City Council that will have six new members. Meanwhile, reparations and magic mushrooms hit high notes with voters, but not so much a measure regarding civilian oversight of City spending. 

Duggan dominates

Mayor Mike Duggan won 75.3% of the vote, easily defeating Anthony Adams (24.3%) to win a third term, according to the City’s official election results site online. Only Coleman A. Young, who won five mayoral elections from 1973-1989, has now been elected to more terms as Detroit mayor than Duggan. 

The City has a “strong mayor, weak council” form of government, meaning Duggan wields much executive power. He appoints the department heads and others who run things, from economic development to cleaning parks to fixing potholes — and generally the overall organization of City government. He also shapes the City budget. 

In his acceptance speech, he touted major economic wins, such as Ford Motor Co.’s transformation of Michigan Central Station, which is slated to open next year. He vowed to tear down the former Packard Plant, an issue winding its way through council now. And he promised more recovery for neighborhoods, including more demolitions of blighted properties. 

Here in Southwest Detroit. Gabriela Santiago Romero (running for City Council district 6) has been here since 7am. So has Rob Dewaelsche, who is supporting Hector Santiago (also running for City Council district 6) #ElectionDay313

— BridgeDetroit (@BridgeDet313) November 2, 2021

Six new City Council members

Coleman A Young Jr., the son of  the City’s longest-serving and first Black mayor, was the top voter-getting in the at-large race, with 31.3% of the vote. Former state Rep. Mary Waters won the second at-large seat, taking 27% of the vote.  

Incumbent Janee Ayers lost in the at-large race, coming in third with 25.2%. On Aug. 25, Ayers and Councilmember Scott Benson had their homes and offices raided by FBI agents. Ayers refused to answer questions about the raid and relied on social media, mailers and billboards during the campaign. Neither Ayers nor Benson has been charged with any crimes. 

Here at Louis Pasteur Elementary on Pembroke and this is by far the busiest place I’ve been today. Still 4 and a half hours before the polls close. Make sure you get out and vote today if you haven’t already! #ElectionDay313

— BridgeDetroit (@BridgeDet313) November 2, 2021

Waters served as state representative for Detroit’s Fourth House District from 2000 to 2006. She is no stranger to political scandal. In 2010, Waters and her former campaign manager, Sam Riddle, pleaded guilty to claims they conspired to bribe a Southfield councilman over approval of moving a pawn shop. Waters pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of filing a false tax return and was sentenced to one year of probation on claims that she received a $6,000 Rolex watch.

The FBI raids didn’t take down incumbent Scott Benson in District 3 on the northeast side. Benson won 91% of the vote against two write-in candidates who entered the race after the federal raids. 

Two incumbents won easily. Mary Sheffield ran unopposed in District 5 and won 99% of the vote. In District 1, James Tate received  74.4% of the vote over Krystal Larsosa’s 25.3%.

In District 2, incumbent Roy McCalister lost to political newcomer Angela Whitfeld Calloway. Calloway won 55.1% of the vote; McCalister had 44.4%  She ran on a campaign vowing to find compensation for the tens of thousands of residents who overpaid a total of $600 million in property taxes, a permanent ban on residential water shutoffs. She’s also a critic of the way Detroit police handled protesters during last year’s Black Lives Matter protests. Her Facebook page has this video

In District 7, former state Sen. Fred Durhal III defeated Regina Ross by 59 votes. Durhal raised more than $100,000; Ross, a Detroit Public School teacher, raised none, according to public records. Durhall had 50.1% of the vote and Ross had 49.5%

In District 4, Latisha Johnson defeated M.L. Elrick to fill the seat of Andre Spivey, who resigned after pleading guilty to accepting bribes in an ongoing towing scandal. Johnson had 60.9% of the votes to Elrick’s 39.1%. 

In District 6, young progressive Gabriela Santiago-Romero won handily against Hector Santiago to fill  the seat of incumbent Raquel Castañeda-López, who didn’t seek re-election. Santiago-Romero received 74% of the vote; Santiago got 25%.

Reparations and magic mushrooms hit high notes 

The proposal about reparations received 80.1% of the votes. Now, a new City task force will be created to find ways that would “make recommendations for housing and economic development programs” that address historical discrimination against the Black community in Detroit, according to the resolution. 

Proposal E won with 61.1% of the votes. The proposal asked  voters to decriminalize the possession of entheogenic plants, such as psilocybin mushrooms, more commonly known as “magic mushrooms.” The proposal will lessen police efforts to crack down on the use of the plants and limit entheogenic plant-related arrests. The sale of the plant or its product, however, will still be illegal.

Proposal S was struck down with 53.9% of voters rejecting it. It sought to change City Charter language that bans appropriations through an initiative process. It would have meant Detroiters gained more control over how funds are spent, though opponents say that would have slowed the appropriation process.

City clerk 

Longtime City Clerk Janice Winfrey handily defeated reform-minded Denzel McCampbell, 71% to 28.6%. 

Winfrey contends her track record speaks to a commitment of improving voter accessibility, with the expansion of early voting and drop-off ballot boxes, among other initiatives. She also called for more voter education efforts, as well as more funding for her office.

Police commissioners

The Board of Police Commissioners is intended to be the public’s watchdog over the Detroit Police Department. The 11-member board is made up of seven elected representatives and four at-large positions. Seven district seats were up for election. 

The four incumbents who ran — Wille E. Bell, Linda D. Bernard, Wille E. Burton and Lisa R. Carter — won. Newcomer Cedric Banks won in an unopposed race. There were two districts with write-in candidates. Information about those races was not available. 

Louis Aguilar is BridgeDetroit’s senior reporter. He covered business and development for the Detroit News, and is a former reporter for the Washington Post.

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