Kenneth Cockrel Jr.

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Kenneth Cockrel Jr.
Ken Cockrel.jpg
73rd Mayor of Detroit[1]
In office
September 19, 2008 – May 11, 2009
Preceded by Kwame Kilpatrick
Succeeded by Dave Bing
President of the Detroit City Council
In office
September 30, 2005 – September 18, 2008
Preceded by Maryann Mahaffey
Succeeded by Monica Conyers
In office
May 11, 2009 – December 31, 2009
Preceded by Monica Conyers
Succeeded by Charles Pugh
Personal details
Born Kenneth Vern Cockrel Jr.
Detroit, Michigan
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Kimberly Cockrel
Children Andrey Evdokimov
Alma mater Wayne State University
Profession Journalist, Politician

Kenneth Vern "Ken" Cockrel Jr. [2] is an American politician from the state of Michigan who became mayor of Detroit on September 19, 2008. He was president of the Detroit City Council from 2005 until September 17, 2008, when he was sworn in as the interim mayor, with his term in office beginning September 19. The previous mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick had announced on September 4, 2008 that he would resign, causing the duties of the Mayor of Detroit to fall upon Cockrel.[3][4]

On May 5, 2009, former Detroit Pistons player and businessman Dave Bing defeated Cockrel 52% to 48% in a special election for Mayor of Detroit. On May 11, 2009, Bing was sworn in as the new Mayor of Detroit and Cockrel returned to his position as Council President.[5][6]

Cockrel is no longer President of the Detroit City Council and sat as a regular council member. On April 23, 2013 he announced that he would not run for re-election.[7][8]


Cockrel, a cum laude graduate of Wayne State University, is a former writer for the Detroit Free Press and a former Wayne County commissioner. He is the son of Kenneth Cockrel, Sr. (November 5, 1938 – April 25, 1989), a former Detroit city council member, attorney and self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninist who died from a heart attack,[9] and Carol Cockrel, a schoolteacher. He is a graduate of the St. Florian Church (Hamtramck, Michigan) High School.

In 1997, Cockrel became the youngest person ever elected to the Detroit City Council.[10] He became council president pro tempore in 2001, and was elevated to council president in 2005 after receiving more votes than any other city council candidate in that year's election. He is viewed by the city's business community as a moderate consensus-builder. In his first term as a city councillor, he secured passage of an ordinance requiring the city to pay vendors and contractors for goods and services within 45 days.[11]

Cockrel enjoys science fiction and action films. He concluded his inaugural address with quotes from Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Star Trek.[12]

He and his wife Kimberly have two sons, Kenneth III and Kyle Vincent, and three daughters, Kennedy Victoria, Kendal Imani and Kayla Lanette.[13] Former councilwoman Sheila Cockrel is his stepmother.[14]


As Council President, Cockrel was first in the order of succession to assume the Mayor's Office if a vacancy occurred. Due to the fallout from the text-messaging scandal, on September 4, 2008, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and agreed to resign effective September 18, 2008, at midnight.[15] Under the City Charter, Cockrel became interim mayor and a special election was ordered.

As he became mayor, Cockrel stated that he planned to review the city budget, due to uncertainty around whether Kilpatrick was fully honest with the city council about the state of the city's finances, and to potentially renegotiate a pending deal with the city of Windsor, Ontario around management of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.[16] The existing deal would have seen Windsor take over full management of the tunnel in exchange for a $75 million loan to Detroit,[17] although Cockrel suggested that he would prefer to work out a new deal which would see the two cities maintain joint management of the tunnel. Windsor mayor Eddie Francis stated that he was confident that he could maintain a strong working relationship with Cockrel.[17]

Cockrel was defeated by former Detroit Pistons star and Detroit businessman Dave Bing in a special election on May 5, 2009 to finish the remainder of Kilpatrick's term, which expired January 1, 2010, at midnight.[18] Following certification of the vote and Bing taking office on May 11, 2009, Cockrel returned to his position as City Council President.[18]


  1. ^ "Duggan sworn in as Detroit's 75th mayor". Michigan Public Radio. January 1, 2014. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  2. ^ Ken and Sheila Cockrel Collection at Wayne State University
  3. ^ Ken Cockrel sworn in secretly as Detroit mayor, Detroit News, September 17, 2008.
  4. ^ "Preparations made to swear in Cockrel as Detroit's mayor", Detroit Free Press, September 4, 2008.
  5. ^ Zachary Gorchow and Namomi R. Patton, "Bing takes oath as mayor; Conyers accuses Cockrel of locking her out", Detroit Free Press, May 11, 2009.
  6. ^ Tammy Stables Battaglia, "Bing says he's ready to lead", Detroit Free Press, May 6, 2009.
  7. ^ Statement of Council Member Kenneth Cockrel Jr.
  8. ^ "Detroit Councilman Cockrel won't seek re-election in November", Detroit News.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Donnelly, Francis X. (2008-09-19). "His own man: Quiet conciliator leaves shadow of father, Kilpatrick". Detroit News. Retrieved 2008-09-19. 
  11. ^ "The next in line: Cockrel not eager, but ready to be mayor if Kilpatrick leaves post", Crain's Detroit Business, February 11, 2008.
  12. ^ "Cockrel Jr. Sworn In As New Detroit Mayor",, September 19, 2008.
  13. ^ "Biographical Sketch Of Incoming Mayor",, September 4, 2008.
  14. ^ Members: Charter restricts impact, Detroit News, 2001.
  15. ^ Susan Saulny (September 4, 2008). "Detroit Mayor Pleads Guilty and Resigns". New York Times. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Cockrel has transition team ready just in case". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  17. ^ a b "Tunnel deal not dead, Francis says". Windsor Star. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  18. ^ a b Suzette Hackney, Zachary Gorchow, Naomi R. Patton and Ben Schmitt (May 6, 2009). "NBA great Dave Bing elected as Detroit mayor". USA Today. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Kwame Kilpatrick
Mayor of Detroit
Succeeded by
Dave Bing