New Detroit Mayor Plans to ‘Breathe Life Back into City’
The 42-year-old Democrat became the city's chief executive at 12:01 a.m., promoted from president of the City Council to replace the disgraced Kilpatrick. He was sworn in by a federal appeals court judge during a special midmorning ceremony at the downtown municipal center.
Cockrel recited the oath of office, then spoke about leaving behind the Kilpatrick sex-and-text scandal and charting a new course for the city.
"This is our time for hope and also for renewal," Cockrel said. "It's our time to breathe life back into the city."
Cockrel, a former newspaper reporter, has hired a former federal prosecutor as deputy mayor, picked a police chief and urged residents to put their trust in the new team at City Hall. He also said getting his hands on the city's budget problems is a priority and already has met with outside auditors.
"From this moment on, the past is the past," Cockrel said after the ceremony. "Because of the events of the past several months, it's critical that we find closure, mend our wounds, treat our bumps and our bruises and heal as a city."
Kilpatrick, also a Democrat, left office Thursday and will go to jail next month as part of a recent plea deal with prosecutors. He admitted lying on the witness stand in a lawsuit over the firing of two police officers. Kilpatrick's 120-day jail sentence starts Oct. 28.
His problems began in January when the Detroit Free Press published red-hot text messages between Kilpatrick and top aide Christine Beatty, which contradicted courtroom denials of an extramarital affair and led to charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.
Separately, the City Council said it didn't know that an $8.4-million settlement with three former officers last year included a side deal to keep a lid on the lusty messages.
Beatty is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice. She refused to accept a plea deal with prosecutors this week that would have given her 60 days in jail. Her trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 5.
Kilpatrick's term runs through 2009. The winner of a nonpartisan special election May 5 will fill the balance of the term. A primary election to trim the field to two candidates will be held Feb. 24.
Dave Bing, a businessman and ex-Detroit Pistons star, will run for mayor in the election, his aide Sue Ray said in an e-mail message Friday.
Bing, 64, said the city needs a mayor "with a clean, fresh outlook." He played for the Pistons from 1966 to 1975 and has run the steel processing company, the Bing Group, for 28 years. The company primarily serves the automotive industry.