By Jan Worth-Nelson
Incumbent Mayor Karen Weaver, two years into her four-year term, soundly overcame a recall effort against her triggered by activist Arthur Woodson with 53 percent of the vote.
Her closest competitor, longtime city councilman Scott Kincaid, came in a distant second with 32 percent. His defeat means the end of a 32-year career in city politics, because a judge ruled that he could not keep his name on both the ballot for Ninth Ward council and the mayoral ballot.
Newcomer Eva Worthing ran alone in the 9th to replace him, winning 59 percent of the votes, defeating a late-in-the-game write-in campaign.
Building contractor Don Pfeiffer, who had outspent all the other candidates with a reported $67,500 investment in the race, came in third with six percent of the vote, 896 votes.
Woodson, the architect of the recall movement, came in a distant fourth with 2.4 percent, or 352 votes.
The voter turnout was 17 percent, or 14,400 registered voters, more than twice the measly 7.45 percent of the August primary.
City Council changes
It was a bad night for three incumbents on the City Council, all nine of whom were up for re-election.
–Second Ward Councilwoman Jackie Poplar lost out to blues musician and talk show host Maurice Davis, 40 to 58 percent.
–In the Third Ward, City Council President Kerry Nelson lost to 19-year-old college student Santino Guerra, 37 percent to 62 percent.
–In the Fifth Ward, incumbent Wantwaz Davis lost to Jerri Winfrey-Carter, 44 to 52 percent.
–First Ward Councilman Eric Mays won strongly, defeating Anita Brown 69 percent to 29 percent.
–In the Fourth Ward, incumbent Kate Fields defeated Michael Doan 63 percent to 31 percent.
–And in the Seventh Ward, incumbent Monica Galloway surpassed many predictions by defeating newcomer Heather Morolla Kale 52 percent to 44 percent.
–Sixth Ward Councilman Herbert Winfrey held on to his seat, defeating newcomer Chia Morgan 54 to 43 percent.
–In the Eighth Ward, both candidates were newcomers following the narrow primary defeat in August of incumbent Vickie Van Buren. L. Allen Griggs ended up defeating Joyce Ellis-McNeal, 50 to 44 percent.
The mayoral race, which drew a varied cast of 17 people onboard to challenge Weaver, was a test of a fairly new state recall law that required the recall vote to be simultaneous with an election for a successor should the recall succeed — a maneuver technically designed to save the cost of a separate election.
Watching the election results come in, talk show host Tom Sumner, political pundit Paul Rozycki and commentator Henry Hatter, a Republican leader and 2016 presidential elector for Donald Trump, said the results suggested a major realignment of Flint city politics.
Sumner suggested the new council realignment was great news for Weaver, who has quarreled with the council and has been locked in a stalemate with them that went to court about deciding on the city’s long-term water source. The mayor, along with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, has been strongly advocating going with a 30-year contract with the Great Lakes Water Authority, and the council, led by defeated council president Nelson and Scott Kincaid, has vigorously resisted. Sumner said he suspects the new council majority will side with the mayor.
“I think she swept a half a dozen council people in with her,” Sumner said. “A significant shift has occurred, monumentally and politically in the city of Flint and where it goes next. A lot depends on Karen Weaver and how she plans to go forward with the city.”
If it doesn’t go well, Sumner warned, ‘We could end up with another emergency manager. I’m not sure the people of the city of Flint deserve that.”
“The city and its people have to rise,” Henry Hatter said. “The city will have to swim itself out of its disturbing waters. I have nothing but hope and great respect for all of the winners. But they have their work cut out for them. We need to retire the debt, bring in new businesses, influence the education system so that when people move in they’ll find all the tools they need to have to remain in the city and make it great again.”
“On the upside, there are many new faces,” in the municipal scene, Sumner noted.
“And some of the new faces look like people who have a serious future in politics and seem to know what they’re doing,” Rozycki said. “My hope is with new energy, the Weaver administration will be able to deal with the water crisis and move forward.” Rozycki said he hoped Weaver would find a way to reach out for a more regional approach to the out county for greater cooperation and collaboration.
“So, now, get busy, get it right, get focused — push everyone forward, that’s what we hope will happen,” Sumner concluded.
Full election results are available at the Genesee County clerk’s election website here.
EVM Editor Jan Worth-Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.