In what Detroit newspapers called “a stunning victoryâ€ local businessman Dave Bing was elected mayor Tuesday and will finish serving the remaining term of convicted Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
The former Detroit Piston defeated interim Mayor Kenneth V. Cockrel Jr. yesterday in a runoff election by 52.3% to 47.7%. Only 15% of registered voters cast ballots.
“The real work starts now,â€ said Bing, 65, an NBA Hall of Famer and owner of the Bing Group, (No. 35 on the BE Industrial/Service 100 list with $131 million in revenues), in his victory speech last night.Â “I will bring efficiency, transparency, honesty and integrity back to the mayor’s office,â€ he said to cheers and applause.
Bing faces tough challenges ahead, including addressing the city’s unemployment rate that hovers at 22.8%, and a budget deficit that Cockrel had estimated at between $250 million and $300 million, dwindling revenues and previously unchecked spending, according to the Associated Press. Bing will also need to work to halt widespread crime and oversee the expansion of Detroit’s outdated convention center.
“We will start immediately and try to attract jobs back into the city of Detroit. We will [try] to make sure our neighborhoods are safe.â€
Bing plans to work with people outside of the city’s limits to bring in money to salvage the COBO Convention CenterÂ rehabilitation plan that did not pass under Cockrel’s administration, says the Detroit Free Press. Throughout his campaign, Bing accused Cockrel of lacking the leadership skills necessary to get the city council behind the COBO project, which is high on Bing’s agenda.
“You have not seen the last of me,” Cockrel told supporters as they chanted: “Run, Ken, run” in reference to a possible second race for mayor. Cockrel was city council president before Kilpatrick’s departure automatically promoted him to mayor. He’ll now return to that job.
Bing will serve the rest of Kilpatrick’s term through Dec. 31. Kilpatrick was convicted of perjury related to a sex scandal involving his chief of staff. Another mayoral primary will be held in August and a general election in November to decide who will serve as mayor for the four-year term that starts in 2010.