Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to felony charges here on Thursday and agreed to resign from office and serve 120 days in jail, ending eight months of political turmoil but also sparking a new era of uncertainty for the city.
After the agreement, Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm of Michigan suspended her hearing into whether to remove Kilpatrick for misconduct, relieving her of being in the awkward position of possibly ousting the mayor, a fellow Democrat, from office.
“It is my profound hope that we can now write a new history for this great but embattled city and that the citizens of Detroit begin the healing process to move forward,” she said. But even as the fate of Kilpatrick became clear on Thursday, a new layer of potential pitfalls came into view.
The city council that will now try to bring stability to the nation’s 11th largest city is known for its volatility. Its two top leaders, Kenneth V. Cockrel Jr., the council president who will now be interim mayor, and Monica Conyers, who will become president of the council, were recently involved in a public shouting match that has become a running joke.
And some members of the council are under federal investigation for possibly taking payoffs before approving a multi-million-dollar sewage contract.
“Moving forward will require all of us to put aside the anger and bitterness of the past few months and heal as a community,” said Cockrel, 42.
Cockrel, whose father, a civil rights activist, died in 1989 before he could achieve his own mayoral aspirations and whose stepmother is a current council member, said that chief among his responsibilities will be “restoring the credibility of not only the mayor but also of the city of Detroit.”
In an evening address from his office, an upbeat Kilpatrick took a parting swipe at Granholm. He also acknowledged what he called his “poor judgment,” asked the city to throw its support behind Cockrel and gave a litany of his achievements.