Challenger Forces Detroit Mayor Into a Runoff
Freman Hendrix and first-term Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick were the top two finishers in the city’s mayoral primary Tuesday, setting up a two-man contest that will decide who leads the city over the next four years.
Hendrix received about 45% of the ballots cast and Kilpatrick about 34%. Councilwoman Sharon McPhail had about 12% of the vote.
The winner in the Nov. 8 election will lead a city with a multimillion-dollar budget deficit and a severe population decline.
Polls showed Hendrix leading Kilpatrick. But experts said Kilpatrick’s vote percentage Tuesday likely would help determine how much money he could raise for the November contest. Hendrix had raised about $1.5 million as of late July, tripling the amount the mayor brought in during the same period.
Walter Smith, 35, said he voted for Kilpatrick because he wanted revitalization to continue.
Earnetta Williams, 46, said she cast her ballot for Hendrix.
“Even though Kwame was here for four years, he didn’t do that much for the city,” she said.
Hendrix, 54, was a deputy in former Mayor Dennis Archer’s administration. He says he’ll cooperate more with the suburbs, improve city services and cut unnecessary departments -- but not police or fire -- to help the cash-strapped city balance its budget.
“My commitment to the people is I’ll never embarrass them as mayor,” Hendrix said.
Kilpatrick, 35, says his administration has revitalized parts of downtown, attacked blight, built houses, cut crime and restored regularity to basic city services.
The former state legislator was elected in 2001 in part because of his youth and charisma, but has come under scrutiny for questionable spending with a city credit card and having the city lease a luxury SUV for his family. He has run an ad apologizing for any missteps.