The Barber of LeDuff

A 31-year-old barber has found a reason to vote for the first time in his life: He's running to become Detroit's next mayor.

Rick Tensley is leary of the barber named Mike Dugeon who is running to be Detroit’s next mayor.

“Somebody put him up to it,” Tensley said. “It’s a joke.”

Tensley is a barber, too. He’s the manager of the R Barber Shop on Grand River, near Outer Drive. His shop is just a few blocks from Big D’s Barber & Beauty Unisex Salon, where Dugeon cuts hair.

Mike Dugeon, outside his NW Detroit barber shop.

Mike Dugeon, outside his NW Detroit barber shop.

Dugeon admits that even he didn’t take his mayoral campaign seriously at first. Now he does.”The way it has grabbed hold of the people, I feel a responsibility to talk in an educated way about the problems going on in our city,” Duegon said, taking a break from his clippers on a recent Saturday morning.

What’s buzzing around the city is whether Dugeon’s write-in candidacy is a problem for Mike Duggan, the former Detroit Medical Center CEO who is also a write-in candidate for mayor in the city’s Aug. 6 primary election. The two men pronounce their names the same way.

As the Detroit Free Press reported on July 26: “Dugeon’s candidacy could throw a serious wrench into how write-in votes cast for Duggan are counted, particularly those that are misspelled.”

Dugeon denies that he was put up to run for mayor as a way to spread confusion. A spokesman for Benny Napoleon, considered Duggan’s main competition in the election, denied anything to do with the barber. Dugeon called the same rumors “nonsense.”

So how did the 31-year-old, Cooley High School grad get in this position?

According to Dugeon, television reporter Charlie LeDuff showed up at his home on Thursday, July 25, chasing a tip that Dugeon was going to run.

“I had no intention of running,” Dugeon said, standing outside the barber shop. “I thought Charlie was playing me.”

But the more LeDuff talked, the more appealing the idea sounded, Dugeon said.

“Charlie told me, ‘I can’t force you to do it, but wouldn’t it be cool?'” Dugeon said. “So after 20 minutes, I decided to go downtown and file the papers, and he followed me.”

Mike Dugeon has never voted before. Which means that on Aug. 6, he’ll be the first person to ever receive his vote.

LeDuff called that telling “ridiculous” a few days later on the Fox 2 News program, “Let it Rip.”

“I didn’t convince him to do it,” LeDuff said. “The more he thought about it, the more he liked the idea.”

Dugeon said his life has been “crazy” since he got into the race. While he has received “good reaction from most people,” he said the attention from the media and citizens “has made my life very uncomfortable.”

Nevertheless, Dugeon said he plans on “speaking for what I know should be fixed for the average Detroiter.” That includes improving public safety, the public schools and providing more recreational opportunities for kids.

When Dugeon goes to the polls Aug. 6, it will be his first time voting.

“I never seen nobody worth voting for,” he said. Now when he looks in the mirror, he does.


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James E. Kenyon

James is the publisher and editor of Page One Post. He was a newspaper reporter in Detroit and Norfolk, VA, before working in the corporate communications departments at a number of Michigan companies. His last stint was 18 years at Chrysler Corporation, where he handled media relations, product and marketing PR and speech writing. He retired from Chrysler in 2007. He enjoys listening to jazz, good cigars and bourbon Manhattans, often at the same time. He and his partner, Melba, live in Detroit's Rosedale Park neighborhood.