By Paul Rozycki
As Mayor Karen Weaver begins her first 100 days in office with a list of ambitious plans for the city, she and the citizens of Flint have a long list of hopes for the upcoming holiday season and beyond.
In that light, here’s a proposed wish list for Flint’s new mayor. May we all find our stockings filled with these wishes granted in the 12 days of Christmas!
On the First Day of Christmas:
Let’s hope Mayor Weaver finds the most competent and insightful advisors under her tree. With all of Flint’s problems, no person can do it all. Let’s hope the mayor is able to pull the best and the brightest staffers together for the city. The challenges she faces will demand the best of all of them (and us.)
On the Second Day of Christmas:
Let’s hope that Mayor Weaver will be able to bridge the racial divisions that have been a part of Flint politics for so many years. One look at the voting results of November’s election revealed the same racially divided voting pattern that has been part of Flint’s politics for most of the last 40 years of mayoral elections. While there were many individual exceptions, the heavily African American precincts generally went for Weaver. The white wards and precincts generally went for Dayne Walling.
On the Third Day of Christmas:
I hope that she is able to reach out to the Flint community in the broadest geographical sense. Let’s hope her campaign promise of reaching out to uptown, downtown and around town, will bear fruit. For too long there has been the feeling that the progress of the downtown has come at the expense of the neighborhoods around town. The fact that the Ruth Mott Foundation is reaching out to the north end may be a step in the right direction.
On the Fourth Day of Christmas:
Let’s also hope that there will be a willingness to give the new mayor the support she needs, both from those who supported her and those who supported Dayne Walling. While this was a hard fought campaign, it’s time to put the division and rancor aside and work for the best interests of the whole city, whoever you supported in the election.
On the Fifth Day of Christmas:
Let’s also hope that those who didn’t vote and didn’t support anyone in the past election, (and more than 80% didn’t vote) will find a reason to get involved in making the city better.
On the Sixth Day of Christmas:
Let’s hope that our new mayor will be able to find the grants and funding sources–state, federal and private—to put the city on track to restore a solid financial footing and keep it there for what will continue to be challenging times in the future.
On the Seventh Day of Christmas:
And let’s hope that a solid financial horizon will finally allow the city to govern itself after so many years of emergency managers, transition boards and state imposed administrators.
On the Eighth Day of Christmas:
In that same light, let’s also hope that Mayor Weaver and City Administrator Natasha Henderson are able to decide who is really running the city. There’s nothing wrong with having a city manager, but that issue should be decided by those who write and adopt the city charter, not the state.
On the Ninth Day of Christmas:
Similarly, let’s also hope that the Charter Revision Commission will produce a workable document to run a genuinely self-governed city.
On the Tenth Day of Christmas:
Let’s also hope that the next year will see a resolution of Flint’s water crisis. Certainly a full solution is a long way down the road, but let’s hope that the switch back to Detroit water and then the opening of the Karegnondi pipeline, will start to show a genuine improvement in Flint’s water—an improvement that we can trust.
On the Eleventh Day of Christmas:
Let’s also hope that Mayor Weaver can begin to reach out to the outlying cities, villages and townships in Genesee County and find genuine cooperation. Let’s also hope that the communities outside of Flint are willing reach back and work with the city. In the final analysis we are all in this together, and both the city of Flint and the suburbs need to cooperate more than they have in the past.
On the Twelfth Day of Christmas:
And most importantly, let’s hope that Mayor Weaver can restore the sense of trust in government. She will need that trust as she makes the difficult decisions to rebuild (or build) the new Flint. Though many were critical of her lack of political experience, let’s hope that her skill as a psychologist may give her a personal touch and an advantage over many of the political leaders and office holders who doubted her ability. Let’s hope Flint can regain the confidence and trust it needs to make a comeback.
On the Thirteenth Day of Christmas: (OK, so there’s an extra one.)
Finally, for the good of the city, for all of us, for this holiday season, let’s give Mayor Weaver the gift of our support, and let’s hope this proves to be the 12 days (or the 100 days) that turned Flint around.