*Flint, Michigan’s Mayor Karen Weaver, elected two years ago promising to clean the city’s lead-tainted water and to restore trust in government, after previous leaders brought poisoned water to the city and ignored residents’ complaints, is now facing a recall election that could cut her four-year-term short.
According to the New York Times, City Council members are accusing her of corruption in calling for her removal.
Weaver, who is African American and the first woman to hold her post, blames racism, sexism and petty politics for the recall. She said the election has become a distraction from the urgent work of shoring up Flint’s shaky finances and re-establishing confidence in the drinking water.
“I think we’ve played a bad hand very well, very nicely,” Weaver told the Times. She added: “You wait for a woman to come and clean things up, and then here you come and want to take it.”
But Weaver’s opponents — 17 names will appear on the ballot along with hers — dismiss her as a political amateur who has run Flint like a fief, failed to engage with the City Council and further eroded the public’s already battered faith in government.
Among their grievances: Her attempt to do business with a trash-collection company that has been accused of corruption elsewhere; the lack of working relationships with Council members; and a long-running dispute about where Flint should get its drinking water in the future and how much residents should pay.
Stirring intense debate, Flint police officers have knocked on the doors of people whose names appeared on recall petitions against Ms. Weaver to ask if they had in fact signed the document. The county clerk, John Gleason, who certified the petitions, called that “voter intimidation and harassment.”
Weaver denied any wrongdoing and said the criticisms were politically motivated. Far from intimidating voters, Ms. Weaver said, the police were investigating allegations that people had been duped into signing recall petitions.
Weaver, a psychologist who had never before held elected office, said she – along with many other Flint residents – still uses bottled water to drink and to brush her teeth, even though tests show the tap water is improving.
“We don’t trust,” said Weaver. “Something that’s difficult to re-establish is trust, when you’ve been lied to at every level of government.”
The candidate who receives the most votes in Tuesday’s election will serve out the remainder of the term.