Where does Detroit go from here?
Now that the Kwame Kilpatrick trial is over, we can measure the cost–not in dollars, but in other ways that are just as important.
Detroit 2020 looks at how the city has been affected, and how we can begin to put this all behind us.
When Kwame Kilpatrick was sworn in as mayor, it looked like the start of a new era of optimism in Detroit.
Over the years, rumored parties, whistleblower suits, text messages , jail terms and finally a five-month corruption trial had changed the way we think of ourselves—and the way others see us.
“I do believe it’s put us more on defense than I’ve seen in a long, long time,” said Sharon Banks, CEO of Bankable Marketing Strategies, a marketing and public relations firm headquartered in Detroit.
She thinks the corruption trial has added to divisiveness. “Political corruption nationally, state and local government affiliations—they all have an impact, and it is divisive…and it is sometimes political,” Banks told Detroit 2020.
Christina Lovio-George is also a marketing expert who has been a Detroit booster for decades. Her company was heavily involved in promoting the 2006 Super Bowl in Detroit. She says that could have been the start of something big.
“There was enormous work that was so masterfully done to prepare us for the Super Bowl—to get our downtown looking right—to put all of the amenities other cities have—we did that,” Lovio-George said.
But she says scandals may have kept us from getting the full benefit. “Well we could have gotten a bounce right after the Super Bowl and been off to the races in terms of filling in the gaps and using the lessons of having all of those millions here…building out to the neighborhoods—using our land—we lost that. We will never get that time back.
She also points to the distraction of four mayoral primaries and elections we were forced to have in just nine months. “I certainly think that Mayor Bing has restored much of the integrity at a very troubled time in city hall,” Lovio-George said. While she says time is a great healer, she insists citizens must learn from this experience. “We need to elect people who represent us, who have our very best interest at heart, over and above their personal interests.”
“We have as the voters in the city, as those who are vested in the city, a responsibility, and we should be held accountable, and we should hold others accountable,” Banks said.
Something to remember as we go to the polls this year.