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Who is Detroit Mayoral Candidate Tom Barrow

Homegrown Accountant With Financial Focus


Updated October 14, 2009

The 60-year-old accountant holds a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Business Administration degree from Wayne State University. He became a certified public accountant in 1973. After working for Arthur Andersen & Co. for six years, he co-started his own accounting firm in the city. Through the years, Detroit Mayoral Candidate Tom Barrow has served on the boards of several accountancy and community organizations.

Detroit Connection:

Barrow was born and raised in Detroit, where he attended the Detroit Public Schools for kindergarten and Annunciation Catholic School through graduation. He attended college, worked and co-started an accounting firm in the city. At one time, his firm's clients included the City of Detroit and, ironically, Bing Steel.

Political History:

Barrow ran against Coleman A. Young for mayor in 1985 and 1989.


Barrow’s approach to Detroit would be to make its neighborhoods safe and its government financially accountable.


  • Budget: Barrow claims that the City of Detroit’s deficit is twice that claimed by the Bing administration. He blames the deficit in part on the undisciplined overspending of department heads, waste and theft. As mayor, he would require a SWOT assessment of each department/agency, bring in new department leadership, require department heads to justify budgets to a panel of financial experts, utilize strong business practices and zero-based budgeting, and improve efficiency by offering more online resources to city residents. He would also physically condense city departments/agencies into two buildings.

    As mayor, Barrow would stop overtime, freeze hiring, establish a four-day work week and require appointees to take a 14% pay reduction. He would also suspend third-party, non-essential city contracts and create private partnerships to adopt parks and public facilities.

  • Cobo: Barrow is against the sale of city assets as a means of balancing the city's budget. In fact, he argues that the state legislation regarding Cobo Center is unconstitutional. If an authority board is established, however, he thinks the city should hold the majority of seats on it.

  • Crime: Barrow’s number one priority is to make the city’s neighborhoods safe. He would accomplish this through heavily-patrolled family safe zones. He plans to hire 300 new police officers and lease 150 new patrol cars. The cars would be manned by new recruits and respond to routine matters. He would also increase police efficiency through new technology.

  • Jobs: As mayor, Barrow would require Detroit residency for employees. He would also use incentives to lure young Detroiters back to the city to work after they graduate from college. Barrow plans to recirculate city-contract dollars by keeping them within the city and create a clear relationship between city vendors and job-training programs.

    As mayor, Barrow would increase the number of small businesses based in the city through the use of incentives and provision of resources, including financial, legal and business help.

  • Opponents: Barrow blames Bing for retaining Kilpatrick’s financial team. He alleges that Detroit missed out on state and local funds because city audits were so far behind schedule.

  • Schools: Barrow would seek Federal stimulus dollars to improve the Detroit Public Schools. He would also empower parents and model district practices after successful charter schools. He welcomes the idea of making the mayor's office accountable for the district.

  • Transparency/Integrity: According to Barrow’s website, he was convicted of tax evasion and fraud in 1993 and served 18 months in prison. While a later tax-court opinion called several counts of his conviction into question, Barrow is still awaiting final vindication from the United States District Court. After being released from prison, Barrow worked to rebuild his accounting firm and now participates in three family businesses.

    Barrow would create a mayoral hotline for transparency.


A New Vision for Detroit, Tom Barrow's website

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