By Luther Houle
Following Mayor Neeley’s swearing-in at City Hall, Flint City Council held its own election at 5 p.m. Monday Nov. 11 to decide who would lead council meetings in the coming year.
Seventh Ward Councilperson Monica Galloway was elected president, with First Ward Councilperson Eric Mays chosen vice president. He also will head up the Finance Committee.
The process took up most of the uncharacteristically short meeting, which adjourned before 8 p.m.
How the votes played out
Starting with the Special Affairs Committee meeting held before the regular council meeting, some council members said who they intended to vote for, along with their reasoning behind it, continuing conversation of the Nov. 6 committee meeting where members expressed their ideal choices for president, along a stated goal of improving their overall behavior as a group.
Council President Herbert Winfrey had already said he was not interested in serving as president again. So the support initially fell between Mays, Third Ward Councilperson Santino Guerra, and Galloway.
On the nine-person council, members need five votes to be elected president. It took several rounds before a majority was reached.
In the first tally, votes split 4 – 4 – 1, with Councilpersons Mays, Maurice Davis, Winfrey, and Jerri Winfrey-Carter voting for Mays and Guerra, Kate Fields, Allan Griggs, and Eva Worthing voting for Guerra; and Galloway voting for herself.
Votes had to be cast three more times before a majority emerged. During this time, support slowly shifted from Mays’s group towards Galloway. A final vote saw Winfrey-Carter, Winfrey, Galloway, Mays, and Davis vote for Galloway, while Guerra’s group remained the same.
Galloway immediately took the chair for the rest of the meeting, and began the vote for vice president.
Mays was voted vice president with five votes coming from the same group that voted for Galloway: Winfrey-Carter, Winfrey, Galloway, Mays and Davis. The remaining four votes from Guerra, Fields, Griggs, and Worthing were in support of Guerra.
Next, Galloway appointed Davis (Second Ward) to serve as chair of governmental operations, Guerra to serve as chair of legislative and grants committees. As vice president, Mays was appointed as the chair of finance and special affairs committees.
As president, Galloway aims to channel frustration “in a respectable way”
With these positions filled, and under request from Vice President Mays, Galloway said a few words.
“I commit to the city and this council to be a leader that exhibits control of myself and my behavior and the way that I address you,” she said, “and all I can hope is that in saying that, you will give me the opportunity to prove that.”
“What I commit to this community and to this body,” she continued, “is that I will not argue with you at all… There will be some times that we are frustrated, but I’m just asking that we would channel that frustration in a respectable way.”
“I look forward to working with Mayor Neeley… I believe that his respect for the co-equal branches of government is going to make a difference. For those that did not support me, I hope I will show you that I am here to serve you. Not to be served, but to serve you.”
“I truly commit to doing what is best for this community and to this body. Whatever you need from me, as long as it’s not illegal, immoral, or unethical, you can get it from me.”
Mays as vice president, predicts, “My style probably won’t change”
For his part, Mays thanked his colleagues for “giving me an opportunity to prove I can be who I need to be…”
“My style probably won’t change as far as people attacking,” he said, “but I’ll try to do better. I commit to you that any support, knowledge I have, I will share. I will help. I will assist. I will be your vice president. I will protect you.
“Let’s see if we can have a better reputation at the end of these 12 months. God bless the citizens of Flint and God bless the City of Flint,” he concluded.
Funds for city audit approved; other resolutions postponed
The council passed one resolution: to transfer an additional $100,000 from the City’s general fund to pay Rehmann Robson to conduct the City’s 2019 audit.
The remainder of the council meeting was much shorter than usual. Council had agreed to postpone nearly all appointments and resolutions from their agenda until an appropriate future committee meeting.
The postponed resolutions included a request from the City human resources department that council adopt certain anti-bullying, anti-discrimination, and drug-free workplace policies.
Mays calls out Genesee Clerk John Gleason
Before calling the meeting to a close, Mays expressed his opinion that John Gleason, Genesee County Clerk, had used his position to influence the City of Flint mayoral election.
According to Mays, the margin of victory for Neeley was 205 votes. Mays alleged Gleason used his county office to campaign for Neeley’s election, possibly affecting the outcome of the election.
“My goal now is to stop Mr. Gleason from ever interfering with an election of this type or any type again.”
Mays requested the council to send Gleason a letter calling him to appear before them at the next governmental operations meeting. No vote was held on the letter, but Galloway agreed that one could be written.
City Council adjourned at 7:45 p.m. City council meetings have recently gone as late as 12 or even 2 a.m.
Banner photo by Meghan Christian
EVM Staff Writer Luther Houle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.