- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 25, 2009

UPDATED:

NBA Hall of Famer Dave Bing and incumbent Ken Cockrel Jr. were the top vote-getters in a special Detroit mayoral primary and will advance to a May 5 runoff.

The winner of that contest will serve out the remainder of former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s second term.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Bing, a D.C. native who played two seasons with the Washington Bullets, received 26,104 votes, while 24,500 ballots were cast for Mr. Cockrel. They were among 15 candidates vying for the mayor’s job.

There will be another primary in August and a November general election to decide who will be mayor for a full four-year term beginning in 2010.

Kilpatrick, a Democrat, resigned in September as part of a plea in two criminal cases. Mr. Cockrel is the current mayor, having moved up from his post as City Council president.

Observers predicted turnout to be low in the special, nonpartisan election, and that appeared to be the result.

Only 9 percent of Detroit’s 626,000 registered voters cast ballots, City Clerk Janice Winfrey estimated shortly after the polls closed.

Retiree Charles Dunn said that as of 4 p.m., he was only the 108th person to vote at Henry Ford High School.

“It’s lousy,” said Mr. Dunn, 57. “It’s as if they don’t care.”

Fewer than 100 people had voted at her precinct when Claudia Seldon cast her ballot about noon at St. John’s Presbyterian Church on the city’s east side.

“I’m very upset that more people have not been here,” said Ms. Seldon, 62, a retired registered nurse. “I don’t think it hits people that this is as important as a regular election.”

The winner of the May runoff will serve the remaining months of Kilpatrick’s second term. Kilpatrick resigned in September as he pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the scandal, which involved a romantic affair with a top aide.

The regularly scheduled primary is in August with the runoff in November. The winner in that campaign will serve a regular four-year term starting in January. The four elections will cost about $6 million for the city, reeling under the auto industry’s difficulties and other problems.

The major candidates in the nonpartisan primary Tuesday were all Democrats.

Mr. Cockrel and most of the other candidates lack the business sense that Detroit needs at this time, said Mr. Dunn, who voted for Mr. Bing, a former Detroit Pistons star who founded an automotive supplier.

“Nobody else knows what they are doing or what they are going to do,” Mr. Dunn said. “You have to have a background in business to deal with the money that could be coming into the city.”

Ms. Seldon said she voted for Mr. Cockrel “because I think he’s done a good job under hard times at the moment, and I think he needs more time.”

The once-popular Kilpatrick was released from jail earlier this month after serving 99 days of a 120-day sentence. He pleaded guilty in September to obstruction of justice and no contest to assault. He admitted he lied during a civil trial to cover up an affair with his chief of staff, with whom he exchanged sexually explicit text messages.

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