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Wednesday March 29, 2017
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Moving to Detroit

 

continued

Founded by gospel singer Marvin Winans, the church occupies a massive modern block at Nevada and Van Dyke. Though it's three in the afternoon, the high, purple-draped sanctuary is packed as Benny Napoleon and half a dozen candidates for city council--all African American--line up facing the congregation. While Winans looks on benignly, a short, wiry man takes the microphone to urge the congregation not to believe the "mainstream media" that show Napoleon trailing Mike Duggan, who is white. "Don't let them Trayvon Martin us!" he roars. "We cannot turn Detroit into Zimmermantown!"

Sokoly, a U-M public policy grad who's here as a campaign manager for council candidate Scott Benson, appears unfazed. The candidates exit as quickly as they came, and Sokoly and another volunteer hop into the backseat of Benson's Ford Focus. There's still time to get in a little door-to-door campaigning before dark.

Two days later, as predicted, Napoleon loses. But Benson, a fit forty-something coast guard veteran with a master's in urban planning, is elected to represent the city's new Third District. By mid-month, he was talking to Sokoly about a possible job on his staff.

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