[Coleman A. Young] cited his age and health as the reasons for not seeking a sixth term, but he also knew he faced a tough campaign and the possibility of a humiliating defeat at the end of a long career. A large, often profane man who enjoyed feuding with the local news media, Young has remained a folk hero to many in this predominantly black city, where he was the first black elected mayor in 1973.
There were also signs that his political grip on the city was weakening. In a Detroit News poll published in February, 81 percent of those questioned said Young should retire, and 63 percent said they would vote for [Dennis Archer] in a head-to-head contest with the mayor. Young, whose popularity peaked in 1981 when he won 65 percent of the vote, was elected to a fifth term in 1989 with 56 percent of the vote.
In his first campaign, Young denounced "police brutality" and promised an overhaul of Detroit's then largely white police force. The force today generally reflects the city's racial makeup and enjoys a better reputation among residents than it did 20 years ago. But one of the ironies of Young's announcement today was that it came during the first week of testimony in the trial of three white police officers who are accused of killing a black motorist last November.
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