Dissecting Flint’s Mayoral Race

Slate is running an awesome, awesome, story about the mayoral race in Flint, Michigan, where a 35-year-old Rhodes Scholar is battling a 64-year-old grandmother/former state representative for the city’s highest office.

Flint’s former mayor, Don Williamson, was a convicted felon-turned-multimillionaire who resigned in February to avoid a recall election that was likely to remove him from office.

Why would anyone want to be mayor of a city with so many problems, Slate wonders.

“It’s my hometown, and no matter where I’ve lived I have a special place in my heart for this city,” says mayoral candidate Dayne Walling, a fifth-generation Flint family-man and former Rhodes Scholar. “It’s terrible to see this kind of suffering inflicted on a community. It’s wrong. It shouldn’t happen anywhere in this country. So I’m committed to being part of the solution.”

Dayne Walling, left, campaigning at a Church's Chicken.

Dayne Walling, left, campaigning at a Church's Chicken.

“It is the worst of times, but a leader leads in good times and in bad,” says  Brenda Clack, his opponent, a former state rep and current county commissioner. “I feel that people who have stayed in Flint, who have hung on, who have persevered deserve a leader of integrity.”

When I was working as a reporter, I once told Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams I would never want his job. Several years later, one thing is clear: political figures in hard-luck rust belt cities, at the very least, make for interesting political profiles.

But I wonder, could it be possible that these places somehow attract top leaders? Youngstrown’s Jay Williams and Braddock’s John Fetterman and even Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker, who had a very complimentary write-up in Next American City recently, certainly make a strong case for the theory.

1 Comment

Filed under Featured, Politics

One response to “Dissecting Flint’s Mayoral Race

  1. Special K

    This is an interesting story.

    What do our Flint readers think? Is Walling the real deal? Is he someone you would vote for? One thing I am curious about that the article didn’t mention….where do the candidates stand on the proposal to shrink Flint, Youngstown-style?

    Also, I’m not sure about your theory that these types of cities attract well-educated, skilled, and innovative leaders. I think it’s just that when they do, it is newsworthy, because that is the exception rather than the rule. Sadly, I think many of our cities are stuck with the same corrupt group of hacks they’ve always had.

    Then again, how much difference can a good mayor make? As this article points out, even the best mayor is powerless to stop deindustrialization and the flight of jobs, at least in most cases.

    Thanks for sharing this story.

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