By Paul Rozycki
Update: EVM has learned that Chris Del Morone is a write-in candidate in Ward 6. We have added his name below and apologize for this omission.
Recently a scheduled forum hosted by write-in candidates Tanya Rison (1st Ward), and Lakeisha Tureaud (7th Ward), presented a worrisome portent for the Nov. 2 city council election. The meeting, where voters could have a chance to meet write-in candidates for the Flint City Council, was held at Kearsley Park Sept. 18, and all five write-in candidates, as well as those on the ballot were invited. There was to be food, music, and a chance to meet and greet the candidates.
The gathering was scheduled to run from noon to 5 p.m. and it seemed to be a well-organized event. I stopped by at about 1 p.m. and found only a handful of supporters in attendance, and tables for only two write-in candidates — Rison and Tureaud. Those candidates were well prepared, and had tables of literature, gift bags for kids, and snacks. A food truck was on site, ready to handle any crowds that might show up.
Apparently none did. I left and planned to come back later when there might be more people and candidates in attendance. About an hour later I drove by again and the parking lot next to the Kearsley Park Pavilion was empty. Everyone was gone. I learned that they left for a meet-up in the 1st Ward, where they had a band, and a few more people showed up.
Admittedly, it was more than a month before the Nov. 2 election, it was a beautiful day, and there were lots of other things to do. This year, the city council is the only thing on the ballot, and off-year elections typically have a low turnout. But it’s too bad there was so little response to the rally for the candidates.
The new council will have a number of important issues to deal with—the budget and city finances, how to spend the COVID money, a rising crime rate, racial divisions, living by the new city charter, and perhaps most important, restoring a sense of civility for the council and each other. The Flint City Council should not be the poster child for ineffective and disorganized governance. This last year has been a series of marathon meetings, endless bickering, personal and racial insults. Whatever other problems Flint has, the image of the council is hardly an encouragement to move to Flint or invest in it.
Write-in candidates typically have little chance of success, but in a low-turnout election, where some of the write-in candidates are putting together significant campaigns, they might matter more than usual this year.
In any case it’s up to the voters of Flint to make their voices heard and turn out and vote for the city council they want to represent Flint. Because the census was delayed, this election is based on the ward boundaries of the last ten years. With the new census numbers the wards will certainly change to reflect Flint’s population changes. Those new ward boundaries will be in place for the 2026 elections when, according to the new city charter, both the mayor and city council elections will be held at the same time as elections for governor.
Here are the candidates running for the Flint City Council this Nov. 2.
In the 1st (north-west Flint), Ward Eric Mays is unopposed on the ballot. However Tanya Rison is running as a write-in candidate against him.
In the 2nd Ward (north-west Flint), Ladel Lewis and Audrey Young are competing for the council seat. Incumbent Maurice Davis lost in the primary election.
In the 3rd Ward (north-east Flint), A.C. Dumas and Quincy Murphy are running to replace incumbent Santino Guerra, who chose not to run again. Richard Jones is running as a write-in candidate in the ward.
In the 4th Ward, (east Flint), incumbent Kate Fields is being challenged by Judy Priestley.
In the 5th Ward (central Flint, downtown), where there was no primary contest in August, incumbent Jerri-Winfrey Carter is running against Joseph Schipani.
In the 6th Ward, (west Flint), Tonya Burns and Claudia Perkins-Milton are running to replace incumbent Herbert Winfrey, who chose not to run again. Leslie Haney is running as a write-in candidate, as is Chris Del Morone.
In the 7th Ward (central, east Flint), incumbent Monica Galloway is being challenged by Allie Herkenroder, who is on the ballot, and Lakeisha Tureaud, who is running as a write-in candidate.
In the 8th Ward, (south-west Flint), incumbent Allan Griggs is facing a challenge from Dennis Pfeiffer.
In the 9th Ward, (south-east Flint), incumbent Eva Worthing is facing write-in candidate Steve Barber.
Learn about the candidates
In the next month there will be forums and meet-and-greet opportunities to get to know the candidates for the council. The Tom Sumner Program will be interviewing all of the candidates, both those on the ballot and the write-in and those interviews can be found on his website Tomsumnerprogram.com or at WFOV, 92.1 in Flint. The website for the League of Women Voters, Vote411.org, is a valuable source of information about the candidates as well. Most of the candidates have their own web sites where they explain their backgrounds, their views on the issues and their reasons for running.
Other Genesee County elections
The voters of Flint won’t be the only ones choosing local leaders Nov. 2. Fenton and Flushing are electing mayors and council members. Burton is electing its council members. Clio is electing members to its City Commission. Grand Blanc is electing its city council and a Board of Review and Davison Township is electing a clerk.
As has been true for several years, in addition to voting at traditional polling locations Nov. 2, all voters will have the option of voting absentee. Absentee ballots can either be mailed or left at drop boxes that will be located at City Hall and at fire stations throughout the city. Voters can register up through Election Day, and some of the candidate forums are likely to be registering voters.
With the loss of over 20,000 in Flint’s population, the next few years can be critical and we need a council ready, willing and able to deal with the issues. A new council won’t solve every problem Flint has, but it can be a step in the right direction. Because it’s an off-year contest, this year’s council election is likely to be easy to ignore.
Take the time to learn about the candidates, and take the time to vote. Don’t put it off.
EVM political commentator Paul Rozycki can be reached at email@example.com.