Detroit’s new mayor has nation’s toughest job


When my wife and I went to vote on Tuesday morning around 8 a.m., there was no one else in the voting room except for those working the site. No one in the voting booths. No line. And for the first time that I can remember there was only one cold, homeless-looking guy standing out front handing out campaign literature urging voters to support his candidate.

In case you weren’t aware, there are 15 mayoral candidates competing against one another to complete the term of ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Fifteen candidates, but only one guy out front handing out campaign literature. I mean, my wife and I are accustomed to small voter turnouts because that’s nothing new where we live. We don’t miss any chance to vote ever, so we’ve had a chance to see the highs and the lows up close. But even in the lowest turnouts we have seen thus far, there were always a cluster of folks out front handing out literature. Sometimes there were more of them than voters. I have never seen the apathy drop this low before.

I know this is a special election and it’s not the regular campaign season, but I guess somehow I held out a faint glimmer of a hope that a few more folks may have retained that enthusiasm and sense of purpose they displayed just months ago when so many turned out to vote for Barack Obama at this very same site where we then had to wait in line several hours to cast our vote. Because, as I have said before, this election is perhaps even more important for Detroiters than the election of Barack Obama. Because if we don’t get the right leadership for this city this time around then no amount of stimulus is gonna bail us out.

Once we were through (the whole process took less than five minutes) I was glad to see our next-door neighbor coming into the room along with another woman. So now there were four of us in the room. Until, of course, my wife and I left and then it was back down to two again. And as we got to the door leading outside the lone campaign worker offered us a tired smile as he held open the door. We smiled and said thank you, and then I looked up and down the street before crossing to get the van and drive it back around to get my wife.

Not a voter in sight.

Yes We Can. But will we…?


~ by Keith A. Owens on February 26, 2009.

One Response to “Detroit’s new mayor has nation’s toughest job”

  1. Sounds like there is low moral in the city, which is understandable.

    But thats what makes it dangerous, low turn outs mean anyone has a shot to be mayor.

    And I mean ANYONE.

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