DETROIT – Ken Cockrel Jr. became the city's new mayor Friday, vaulted into office by a sex scandal that destroyed the reign of Kwame Kilpatrick and threw Detroit's government into chaos for months.
Cockrel, who was president of the City Council, took the oath of office Wednesday, but the change didn't take effect until 12:01 a.m. Friday. A public ceremony was scheduled for later Friday.
Cockrel has hired a former federal prosecutor as deputy mayor, picked a police chief and urged residents to put their trust in the new team at City Hall.
In remarks to reporters this week, he said getting his hands on the city's budget problems is a priority. Cockrel already has met with outside auditors.
"When you have your financial house in order, it makes it a lot easier to do the other things that you want to do," the 42-year-old former newspaper reporter said.
Click here to read Kilpatrick's resignation letter (PDF).
Kilpatrick, a Democrat, left office Thursday and will go to jail next month as part of a recent plea deal with prosecutors. He admitted lying on the witness stand in a civil lawsuit over the firing of two police officers.
Before taking a trip outside Michigan, Kilpatrick released a statement urging residents to get behind Cockrel, a fellow Democrat.
"He will need your support because the job of mayor requires making the tough but not always popular decisions in order to advance our city," said Kilpatrick, mayor for nearly seven years.
His problems began in January when the Detroit Free Press published red-hot text messages between Kilpatrick and top aide Christine Beatty, which contradicted courtroom denials of an extramarital affair and led to charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.
Separately, the City Council said it didn't know that an $8.4-million settlement with three former officers last year included a side deal to keep a lid on the lusty messages.
Saul Green, a former federal prosecutor, will become deputy mayor. In his second high-profile hire, Cockrel named a former deputy police chief, James Barren, 57, as police chief. Ella Bully-Cummings retired when Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice.
"He is the general," Cockrel said of Barren. "He is the one that is going to be calling the shots.
"I don't see myself as the sort of mayor that wants to be reaching his hands into the inner workings of the police department. We have seen recently where that can lead," he said in a reference to Kilpatrick.
Kilpatrick's term runs through 2009. The winner of a nonpartisan special election May 5 will fill the balance of the term. A primary election to trim the field to two candidates will be held Feb. 24.
Kilpatrick's 120-day jail sentence starts Oct. 28.