The Throw Down in Motown
Published: October 9, 2013
MT: You’ve garnered a lot of endorsements — a majority of them seem to be from organized labor and politicians …
Napoleon: Those are really basically the only endorsing bodies other than the clergy — and I’ve received those too. I’ve received a significant number of elected officials who’ve endorsed me. Both of the sitting current congressmen in Detroit have endorsed me; the county clerk has endorsed me; the prosecutor has endorsed me; most of the state reps and state senators who represent Detroit have endorsed me, as has almost unanimously the black church in this community.
MT: The question was really about your efforts in establishing relationships with the business class.
Napoleon: I am a person who has been in management most of my adult life. I became a supervisor at 27 years old, so I’ve been on the management side for the last 31 years, but I also understand that any organization is only going to be as successful as the people who are in it.
… I have always been pro-working people, because that’s what makes up the strong middle class that we have in this country. But that does not mean that I’m anti-business. I believe the two have to co-equally exist with a mutual benefit in mind, and if you’re a businessperson, that’s to make money, and I’m not opposed to that.
MT: How do you ensure Detroit doesn’t backslide into arrearage when you ultimately inherit a city that, by all measures, will emerge from bankruptcy solvent but broke?
Napoleon: We have to reinvent ourselves; there’s no question. We have to make sure that the things that got us here we don’t engage in again, and fundamentally, I believe the biggest misstep that this city has made is failing to affirm Detroit as a safe city...
MT: Are you suggesting that Detroit’s problems are more an issue of perception over a reality that needs to be fixed?
Napoleon: There’s a combination of both. The perception is always the reality because if I believe it, it’s true. But the reality is that there are things that need to be changed — policies, procedures and practices need to be changed in city government.
MT: … The latest poll numbers out show —
Napoleon: I know what they are; you don’t have to.
MT: How do you make up ground like that?
Napoleon: Same way Kwame Kilpatrick did when he ran against Freman Hendrix after the primary. [Kilpatrick] was 31 points behind two weeks out. Same way Coleman Young did it against John Nichols when he was 30 points behind two weeks out. There’s a path to victory here, and we know what it is, and we’re focusing very closely on that path to victory.
MT: I don’t recall that Coleman Young campaign, but I do remember the Hendrix campaign — it got pretty negative at the end.
Napoleon: We’re only four weeks out, and we have to tell the story — we have to tell the truth — and I don’t think telling the truth is negative. I think telling the truth is just telling the truth, and we will tell the truth, and if someone perceives that as being negative, then that’s unfortunate. Because as long as it’s true, it ain’t negative.
MT: Are you saying you haven’t been telling the truth so far?
Napoleon: When you do a side-by-side comparison of my opponent and me, someone may look at that and say well [Benny’s] gone negative; no, I’m just reciting the facts. This is who he is and this is who I am, and that’s probably going to happen.
MT: Has that not happened yet?
Napoleon: No, I think in the media we haven’t really done it and I think the debates will tell, but I don’t see it getting bloody. I don’t think anybody wants to see it.
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