By Meghan Christian
The newly-elected Flint City Council members were sworn into office by City Clerk Inez Brown at noon Monday in front of family, friends, and members of the Flint community — the group an altered combination of new and old that could change the city’s political environment.
After all nine members gave their oath, each in turn voiced their gratitude and their eagerness to start aiding the City of Flint and its residents.
In the nine-member council, five are new: Maurice Davis in Ward Two; Santino Guerra in Ward Three; Jerri Winfrey-Carter in Ward Five; Allan Griggs in Ward Eight; and Eva Worthing in Ward Nine, where longtime councilman Scott Kincaid lost his seat when a judge ruled he could not run for council and mayor simultaneously. Kincaid ran for mayor and placed second, decisively beaten by Mayor Karen Weaver who in the process overcame a recall effort against her.
Davis, a blues musician and popular radio host, unseated Jackie Poplar. Guerra, a UM – Flint student, unseated council president Kerry Nelson, and Jerri Winfrey-Carter unseated Wantwaz Davis. Griggs took the seat previously held by Vicki Van Buren, who lost by one vote in the August primary.
Re-elected incumbents also sworn in for new four-year terms were Eric Mays from Ward One, Kate Fields from Ward Four, Herbert Winfrey from Ward Six, and Monica Galloway from Ward Seven.
The election introduces a new diversity for the council — in age and gender — prompting Cleora Magee, chairperson of the 2017 Flint Charter Commission to comment, “This is good to see.” The changes also suggest possible shifts in political loyalties from a group that for the past three years has quarreled frequently with the mayor.
Not only did members of the council voice their gratitude to be elected, they were not shy in stating that work needed to be done. Incumbent Mays, re-elected by a large margin in Ward One, stated, “Let’s get ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work.”
Echoing that sentiment, some council members touched on specific issues that they hope to tackle. Maurice Davis (Ward Two) spoke about the development of the North end, stating, “It’s going to get the development it deserves.” Kate Fields (Ward Four) discussed a goal of transparency.
“One of my main goals is to share information with all the citizens, to have this government be as open and transparent as we possibly can so you have the information not only you need to make decisions, but also so the Council does,” Fields said.
Council members also addressed some of their critics in hopes to reassure them. Monica Galloway (Ward Seven) said, “I want to thank the Seventh Ward, those of you that supported me. And even those that desired a change, I commit to you to be the leader that all of you will be proud of,” Galloway said.
Eva Worthing, the newly-elected council member for Ward Nine, reassurred residents that she understands the responsibility of her new position.
As a single mother of two, she said, “It matters to me what decisions I make, so not only am I making it for my ward, I am making it for my family. I promise every single vote and every single decision will not be made lightly and I will definitely keep my good will for people and those in my ward,” Worthing said.
In his closing remarks, Attorney Carl Bekofske ended on a hopeful note for the city. “There’s a new day coming,” Bekofske said.
EVM Managing Editor Meghan Christian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.