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NBA great Dave Bing wins race for Detroit mayor

BASKETBALL legend Dave Bing was elected as Detroit's mayor through the end of the year, sweeping the incumbent from office in the city with myriad problems.

"The real work starts now," Bing said to loud cheers during his victory speech last night.

"What we will bring ... is efficiency, transparency, honesty and integrity back to the mayor's office," he said.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Bing had 52.3 percent of the vote, or 49,054 votes, to 47.7 percent, or 44,770 votes, for incumbent Ken Cockrel, Jr. Both are Democrats.

Bing, 65, will be mayor through 2009, serving the balance of the term that belonged to Democrat Kwame Kilpatrick, who resigned in September and went to jail after admitting he lied during a civil trial to cover up an affair with his chief of staff.

Bing must run again in the regular Aug. 4 nonpartisan primary and win the Nov. 3 general election to hold the mayor's seat for a full four years.

The founder of steel manufacturer The Bing Group announced his run for mayor the day after Kilpatrick stepped down as part of pleas to two criminal cases.

Cockrel, 43, was City Council president before Kilpatrick's departure automatically promoted him to the mayor's office. He'll go back to that job now.

"You have not seen the last of me," Cockrel told supporters to cheers and chants of "Run Ken run!"

Shortly after the speech, Cockrel spokesman Daniel Cherrin said he expected a decision in a few days on whether or not Cockrel will run again in the upcoming primary.

Scandal caused the special election, which cost US$2.5 million including the Feb. 24 primary, but Detroit has other issues on its plate. The city has a US$250 million to US$300 million budget deficit, double-digit unemployment and a wave of home foreclosures.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Bing would bring business acumen and credibility to Detroit.

"When he played basketball he thrilled us. When he moved into business he hired us. Now he will lead us," the civil rights leader said during a telephone interview.

Bing was the No. 2 overall pick by the Detroit Pistons in 1966 out of Syracuse. He played in Detroit until he was traded in 1975 and is a member of professional basketball's Hall of Fame.

His Bing Steel company opened in Detroit in 1980, and The Bing Group is a manufacturer and supplier to the auto industry that employs about 500 workers.


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