By Paul Rozycki
On Saturday newly inaugurated Governor Gretchen Whitmer met with her Flint area supporters at the Flint Farmers Market. The event was part of a state-wide tour where the governor and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilcrist planned to meet with constituents in Detroit and Flint, on Saturday, and other parts of the state in the weeks following her inauguration. It was Whitmer’s first visit to Flint since the election.
The Flint event, held from 2 to 4 p.m., drew a large crowd. The line to greet the governor was already out the door well before the 2 p.m. scheduled start and the parking lot was full. For a full two hours the governor met, shook hands, and took photos with hundreds of Flint area residents.
The line was so long that a last-minute decision was made to cancel a planned speech and program, to allow all those who attended to have an opportunity to meet with the governor and have a photo taken. At the end,even those working security at the Farmers Market had a chance to have their photos with the governor.
In addition to the many hundreds of local residents who attended, a number of local officials were on hand to greet the governor. Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, Congressman Dan Kildee, State Representatives Sheldon Neeley, former
State Representative Pam Faris, former Lt. Gov. John Cherry, his son, newly elected State Representative John D. Cherry, Tim Sneller, County Clerk John Gleason, members of the Genesee County Board of Commissioners, the Flint city council, other local office holders, and a long list of political activists were on hand. Former State Representative Lee Gonzales was also in attendance and learned of his new position in the Department of Civil Rights under Whitmer.
Whitmer has said she would work with Mayor Weaver on the Flint water crisis and bring back free bottled water to Flint residents. She said she hopes to restore the trust of the people of Flint.
The event was planned as a ‘meet and greet’ for those who couldn’t attend the gubernatorial inauguration Jan. 1, and was free and open to the public. Attendees were asked to donate a new or gently used children’s book, to be given to those in need throughout the state. As they left they were invited to pick up a free copy of the children’s book, “Mackinac Bridge, The Story of the Five-Mile Poem” by Gloria Wilson. The book picked up on one theme of Whitmer’s inauguration speech, with a book-plate that said, “When we choose to build bridges, our differences provide new perspectives and shine a light on common ground that binds us all together.”
Food was provided and activities for children were planned during the event.
In coming weeks, similar events are planned in Grand Rapids on Saturday, Jan. 26, and Marquette on Saturday, Feb. 16. More information is available at michigantransition.org/inauguration.
EVM staff writer and political columnist Paul Rozycki can be reached at email@example.com.