Detroit is at a crossroads. A fork in the road. We have to pick one direction or the other tomorrow.
It's a crossroads thrust on us by the unfortunate events which led to the ouster of Kwame Kilpatrick and the very costly and very questionable special elections – the first held a few months back and the second tomorrow.
For the first time in Detroit's history, we are having an emergency election to pick a mayor to finish out this year and (hopefully) begin the painful process of getting the city back on its feet.
The problem is that hardly any Detroiters care. That is, if you believe the polls.
According to the experts, only 15% of registered voters will bother to show up tomorrow to pick between current interim mayor Ken Cockrel or businessman and former sports star Dave Bing.
Do the other 85% have something better to do with their time than bother to pick the person who will lead their city?
I hope the experts are wrong.
Let's just take a few seconds to come up with some reasons why this election might be important:
- Detroit's government is 100s of millions in debt (I'm not sure even they know how much) and facing a state takeover if finances are brought under control
- Many (if not most) of Detroit's neighborhoods more resemble a third-world nation than one of the largest cities in the world's richest and most powerful nation
- Property values in Detroit have plummeted to levels not seen since the 70s. I know it's bad everywhere in Michigan right now (and other parts of the country), but the prices in Detroit borderline on ridiculous
- City services are no where near what they could be or should be. Police are understaffed, fire hydrants don't work, roadwork is badly needed, bulk pickup is only a few times and year – and this is going to be one long hot summer. We need good leadership and we need it now.
So, I hope in my heart that something motivates my fellow Detroiters to get off their butts and go vote tomorrow.
If they don't care about their city, that's one thing and it's sad.
But to be given the chance to set the building blocks for the new Detroit, the Detroit of tomorrow, and be too disinterested or lazy to get to the polls – now that's tragic.
And a disgrace.