• Bing Back as Detroit Mayor, Faces Tough Problems

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    DETROIT (WXYZ) – Mayor Dave Bing will get the chance to incorporate the kind of change he has promised over an entire term in office by winning Detroit’s mayoral election Tuesday night, defeating his opponent Tom Barrow and earning a four-year mandate from voters.

    WXYZ.com, the WXYZ Twitter account, and Action News were the first area media to announce Bing’s victory.

    With 100% of precincts reporting, Bing wins by a margin of 58% to 42% over Barrow.

    Pre-election polls showed Bing held a wide lead in the race.

    The WXYZ/EPIC-MRA poll showed Bing with 46 percent of the vote compared to Barrow’s 24 percent. It also said 25 percent of voters still were undecided heading into election day and 5 percent were listed as “other.”

    Bing’s supporters assembled at the Doubletree Resort in downtown Detroit to celebrate victory, while only a handful of Barrow supporters gathered at his post-election headquarters at the Corktown International Gateway in Detroit.

     

    Updated: Wednesday, 04 Nov 2009, 5:43 AM EST
    Published : Tuesday, 03 Nov 2009, 11:26 PM EST

    MyFoxDetroit.com & The Associated Press

    DETROIT (AP) – Mayor Dave Bing has put away one more foe by soundly defeating accountant Tom Barrow in Detroit’s race for mayor, ending an eight-month span of elections that brought voters to the polls four separate times.

    Now, the professional basketball Hall of Famer can focus all his attention on a city with one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates, a $300 million budget deficit and a shrinking tax base that is threatening to leave Detroit broke. Not to mention a city council under scrutiny as part of a federal corruption probe.

    “I believe this is a defining moment in Detroit’s history,” Bing told cheering supporters Tuesday night after his 16-point win over Barrow for a full, four-year term as mayor. “Now, now is the time for all Detroiters to commit to creating a better future for our city.

    “I believe that we can once again come together, rise to the challenge and make Detroit the city we all want it to be.”

    The former steel supplier swept past Barrow, a fellow Democrat, in the fourth Detroit mayoral election this year.

    Bing refused to even debate Barrow, who failed in two previous runs for mayor and was convicted of bank fraud and tax charges in 1994.

    Bing, 65, received the most votes in a February primary — his first venture into politics. Then in a May runoff defeated incumbent Ken Cockrel Jr. to become mayor. Cockrel had moved from his post as City Council president to the mayor’s office after Kwame Kilpatrick resigned amid a text-messaging sex scandal and perjury charges in September 2008.

    Bing also outdistanced Barrow and four other challengers in an August primary.

    As mayor, Bing has laid off workers and demanded a 10 percent wage cut to help address the city’s ongoing budget deficit. The city’s unemployment rate is about 27 percent.

    “I think he can bring more jobs,” 63-year-old homemaker Luevirnia Thurman said of Bing after casting her ballot at Mae C. Jemison Academy on Detroit’s west side. “He seems to be more professional than the people in office before him.”

    Lenore Ford, who also voted at Jemison Academy, said Bing already has put a lot into Detroit.

    “He’s looking at running the city as if he is running a business,” said Ford, 39. “No one wants their business to fail.”

    Voters also are hoping Bing will bring stability to City Hall.

    The mayoral race headlined a ballot which featured Detroit City Council contests, a charter commission election and schools bond initiative.

    Bing was the No. 2 overall pick by the Pistons in 1966 out of Syracuse, spending nine of his 12 NBA seasons in Detroit. He went on to open his Bing Steel company in Detroit in 1980.

    The company grew into several steel manufacturing operations that primarily served the auto industry.

    Bing has said Detroit is broke and could run out of money later this year. He took on city labor unions this summer, giving them an ultimatum of widespread layoffs if the wage cuts and other concessions were not met.

    Some bargaining units sided with the mayor, others chose to fight and supported Barrow in the election.

    Bing told reporters after his victory speech that he’ll be back at work at 7 a.m. Wednesday. He said he would follow through on a promise to impose contract terms on city unions that have not already agreed to the concessions.

    “I did what I had to do,” Bing said of decisions like his hard-line approach to union talks. “I knew it would cost me votes, but I wasn’t nervous about it because I think it was the right thing to do.”

    With 100 percent of Detroit’s 629 precincts reporting Tuesday night, Bing had 58 percent, or 70,060 votes. Barrow had 42 percent, or 50,757 votes.

    Tuesday’s election also promises a new direction for the City Council, where a federal corruption probe led to the conviction of Councilwoman Monica Conyers for taking bribes.

    Conyers, wife of Democratic U.S. Rep. John Conyers, is awaiting a Dec. 1 sentencing after admitting to accepting money for her vote on a controversial sludge-hauling contract.

    Along with four incumbents who won Tuesday, there will be five fresh faces on the nine-member board.

    Former TV anchor Charles Pugh received the most votes and will replace Cockrel as council president. The top vote-getter automatically wins the council presidency.

    “Detroit, we have a lot of work to do and a lot of tough decisions to make. And I understand that we need some committed people,” Pugh said during his victory speech. “But you can be confident about our future, Detroit, and the new city council that we have elected tonight. And I want to assure you, I am ready to lead today.”

    Pugh will become the city’s first openly gay city council member.

    With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Pugh had 88,704 votes. Ex-Detroit Deputy Police Chief Gary Brown was second with 80,698 votes.

    “Detroit, hold on. Help is on the way,” Brown said Tuesday night. He was one of three Detroit police whistle-blowers’ who sued the city and Kilpatrick — leading to the ex-mayor’s downfall.

    Cockrel finished fourth, less than six months after losing to Bing in a May runoff election to complete Kilpatrick’s second term as mayor.

    “Obviously I was working very hard to get the No. 1 slot. But the main thing is, I’m happy to be back on City Council,” Cockrel told WJBK-TV.

    Brenda Jones, Kwame Kenyatta and JoAnn Watson also won re-election. Alberta Tinsley-Talabi lost her seat. Other newcomers to the council will be Saunteel Jenkins, Andre Spivey and James Tate. The new council will be seated in January.

    “I think people are really tired of what they’ve seen,” said Tate, a former civilian deputy chief for the police department. “They’re ready for something to actually change and make this place a lot better.”

    ——

    Associated Press writers Corey Williams, David N. Goodman and Ben Leubsdorf in Detroit contributed to this report.

     

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