Can Detroit's First Openly Gay Politician Save the City?
Just one week ago, Charles Pugh was poised to become not only Detroit's first openly gay elected official, but its city council president when voters here go to the polls Tuesday. But the flashy former television reporter has an unpleasant new distinction: Pugh recently acknowledged that his three-story home near downtown Detroit has been foreclosed, raising serious questions about his business acumen at a time when this city is on the brink of financial collapse.
Those revelations, as well as the disclosure that he failed to pay rent on an apartment at several points earlier this decade, have hardly helped Pugh's candidacy. In recent days, the editorial boards of both the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News pulled their endorsements of him. (The Free Press wrote: "It's simply unreasonable for Detroiters to trust him with their city's finances after he so negligently managed his own.") Pugh dismisses the criticism, and says his financial troubles will actually endear him to voters in a city experiencing some of the most extreme effects of the national real estate crisis. "This is a personal issue I'm dealing with. The city council doesn't pay Detroit's bills," he says, adding, "So I'm very qualified for this job."