When Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick finally stepped down, the line of succession to his office was not immediately clear. As city council president, Ken Cockrel, Jr. would succeed Kilpatrick initially, but would Cockrel serve out the rest of Kilpatrick's term (12/31/09) or would a special election determine a permanent replacement? And just how much discretion did the city council have to decide the issue?
Special Primary and Election
Turns out, the city charter dictated how things would play out. The charter sets out a time frame regarding a special election that looks to the date a mayor leaves office relative to the end of his/her term.
Under the language of the charter, the date upon which Kilpatrick vacated office, September 18th, determined that a special election would be held. If Kilpatrick resigned or was removed from office after March 1st, 2009, Cockrel would have permanently replaced Kilpatrick until the end of his term.
So how were the dates of the special primary and election determined? The city charter requires that the council call a special election at least 80 days before the date set for a special primary and 120 days before the date set for a special general election. These deadlines are complicated by the fact that Michigan law now limits the months in which an election can be held: February, May, August and November.
- Special Primary: February 24th
- Special Election: May 5th
- Primary: August 4th
- General Election: November 3rd
- Special election is debated by Christine MacDonald / The Detroit News (8/16/08)
- The next in line: Cockrel not eager, but ready to be mayor if Kilpatrick leaves post by Brent Snavely / Crain's Detroit Business (2/11/08)
- Detroit prepares for new leadership as Kilpatrick’s problems mount by Alexa Stanard / The Michigan Messenger (4/10/08)