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.”
“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.