- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dave Bing, businessman and former Detroit Pistons star, won a special mayoral election Tuesday, defeating Kenneth Cockrel Jr., the current mayor and former City Council member. Both are Democrats.

Mr. Bing, 65, will serve through 2009, completing the term held by disgraced former Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick who resigned in the fall and served a prison sentence for his role in a police whistleblower scandal that cost the city millions and rocked City Hall. An election for a full four-year mayoral term will be held in November.

Shortly after 10 p.m. Tuesday, Mr. Bing had 52.3 percent of the vote to Mr. Cockrel’s 47.7 percent in a light voter turnout.

“What I want to ask you for is just a little bit of patience. As I bring my team into city government, we are going to make the changes that you voted us in to make,” Mr. Bing told an exuberant crowd of supporters gathered in celebration in a downtown Detroit hotel.

He told his supporters that he was committed to bringing “efficiency, transparency, honesty and integrity back to the mayor’s office.”

Turnout was low, as expected, for the election with about 96,000 of the city’s 626,000 registered voters casting ballots Tuesday.

Mr. Bing was born in Washington and was a basketball star at the city’s Spingarn High School. As point guard, he was a leading scorer at Syracuse University, where he was an All-American.

He played for the Detroit Pistons from 1966 to 1975 and then spent two years with the Washington Bullets and a year with the Boston Celtics before retiring in 1978. He was named to National Basketball Hall of Fame and to the NFL’s 50th Anniversary All Time Team in 1996. Back in Detroit, he founded the Bing Group, a manufacturing firm involved in auto parts.

Mr. Bing was endorsed by the city’s two major newspapers. But he is a political outsider who has pledged to bring in a team of business experts who will reform government and work to revitalize the Motor City, which has been mired in political infighting and a massive deficit amid the area’s automotive and home foreclosure crises.

Mr. Cockrel, a former journalist who served as City Council president before moving up into his role as the city’s current mayor after Mr. Kilpatrick resigned, has pledged stability and increased safety for the city. He has made late strides in the most recent polls and in closing the fundraising gap with Mr. Bing in recent weeks.

Both candidates are Democrats.

An EPIC/MRA poll of likely voters, taken on behalf of the Detroit News and WXYZ-TV last week found that Mr. Cockrel was leading Mr. Bing 39 percent to 33 percent.

Lansing, Mich., pollster Bernie Porn, who conducted the EPIC/MRA survey, said Mr. Cockrel may have had an advantage in the poll because he had been able to maintain his favorability ratings since the city’s February mayoral primary.

No lines or waits were reported by noon as voters stepped out across the city in 65-degree weather with partly sunny skies.

Mr. Bing and Mr. Cockrel were candidates with soft-spoken personal styles, and far less bombastic than their predecessor, the youthful and colorful Mr. Kilpatrick, who before his downfall was popular, charismatic and dubbed the city’s hip-hop mayor, election experts said.

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