Detroit Mayoral Candidates Bump Heads in Debate

Detroit Mayoral Candidates Bump Heads in Debate

Detroit Mayor Ken Cockrel and businessman Dave Bing agreed on very little at their second mayoral debate Wednesday evening, except that — as General Motors, a top Detroit employer goes bankrupt — the city is in desperate need of revenue and jobs.

Bing went into the debate in attack mode saying that Cockrel lacked leadership in convincing the Detroit City Council to transfer authority of the Cobo Convention Center to a regional authority. Cobo, which produces 16,000 jobs, is at the center of a battle between Cockrel and the city council. Bing, owner of the Bing Group (No. 35 on the BE 100s Industrial/Service List), also said that the 2009-2010 fiscal year budget Cockrel presented Monday has a lot of “fuzzy math.” Cockrel reminded the Detroit Economics Club audience that for all of Bing’s criticism, he had not created any alternatives and was short on specifics.

Detroit News Columnist Laura Berman felt that both candidates were too vague, and from her observations viewers seemed frustrated. Besides Cobo, the moderators queried the candidates about short term solutions to the 22.8% unemployment problem, and how to prevent unethical behavior in their administration.

Speaking of which, the winner of the election on May 5 will replace convicted former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. A third and final debate will be held April 23.

Marcia A. Wade is a reporter at