Michigan Court Of Appeals Keeps Duggan Off Mayoral Ballot

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Mike Duggan has failed to meet residency requirements for the Detroit mayoral race.

Last week, Wayne County Circuit Judge Lita Popke sided with critics who had challenged  the candidacy of Duggan, one of the campaign's front runners who has spent months raising money and meeting voters. They argued that Duggan had not lived in Detroit for a full year by April 2, the day Duggan turned in nominating signatures required to make the ballot.

Duggan said through a spokesman he would think about the decision over night and announce his next move Wednesday. He could ask the Michigan Supreme Court to take up the matter.

The challengers were four-time mayoral contender Tom Barrow and the litigious labor activist Robert Davis.

In a statement, Barrow said: "This is the best solution for the City of Detroit. The Court in upholding the new Detroit City Charter restores Detroiters' faith in the objective rule of law and in treating all citizens the same regardless of wealth and stature.

"The Appeals Court has affirmed the wisdom of the people when they approved the new City Charter last year with the requirement that a candidate must be, at a minimum, a registered voter and resident of the city for at least one year as was the intent of the Charter Commission."

Barrow said he would hold a new conference at 5 p.m. Tuesday -- at the Manoogian Mansion, home of Detroit's mayors, which is down the street from his residence on the riverfront in the Berry Subdivision.

In its decision, the three-judge appeals court said:

"We hold that Duggan has not met the qualifications for elected office by the plain terms contained in the charter.” 

“Consequently, where Duggan has failed to meet the charter requirements for elective office, his name may not appear on the ballot. Plaintiff thus has a clear legal right to have Duggan’s name removed from the list of candidates and the Commission has a clear legal duty to perform this ministerial act.”

Judges Christopher Murray and Michael Talbot wrote the majority opinion. Judge Cynthia Diane Stephens wrote a partial dissent.

Duggan did not dispute the date he legally became a Detroiter. He argued, though, the date of his candidacy should be considered May 14, the city’s filing deadline.

Popke said she found the Detroit city charter’s provisions requiring a full year of residency before a candidate files for elected office “clear and unambiguous.”

She added: “Mr. Duggan filed for office April 2, 2013. That date has never changed and is the effective date of his candidacy. He did not become a registered voter in the City of Detroit until April 16, 2012, less than one year before he filed for office. Hence, he was not a qualified candidate on the day he filed for office, and his name must be removed from the Aug. 6, 2013, primary ballot. There are no arguments nor any case law which change this result.”

Earlier, The Detroit Election Commission voted 2-1 to allow Duggan to remain on the ballot. The commission is composed  the City Council President Charles Pugh, Detroit’s interim Corporation Counsel, Edward Keelean and City Clerk Janice Winfrey. Pugh voted against Duggan.

Barrow called on Winfrey Tuesday to resign.

A native Detroiter who has held a variety of high-profile jobs in the city, Duggan lived in  Livonia for years before moving into Detroit last year to run for mayor. Some critics, like Barrow and Davis, have charged he is a "carpetbagger" who doesn't not really know the city or its residents.

For months, Duggan and Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon have alternated in leading polls on the mayoral race, with other challengers far behind.

 

 

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