Commentary: Are YOU being represented? Flint council members are elected to take a stand. Abstaining shirks their duty


By Christopher Frye
Editor of Flint: Our Community, Our Voice

Election Day 2022 is upon us. 

It is the day that We The People make our choices known on various ballot issues and elect Representatives to diverse legislative bodies from local school boards to our representatives in Congress. 

Allow me to repeat…we are voting for people to represent us at diverse levels of government. Therefore, if elected, it is incumbent upon the victor to be our representative. 

You are elected to take a stand on issues. You are elected to vote on issues. Yay, or Nay. It is the reason you were elected.

A voter enters a polling station near Kettering University. (Photo by Tom Travis)

Lately I have been noticing a disturbing trend at Flint City Council. 

Not (officially) taking a stand on controversial issues by abstaining to vote when the roll is called. 

Abstaining from voting is becoming a habit among some members of Council. Effectively abdicating their elected duty to represent their constituents and their Wards. 

None were elected to abstain from voting. You were elected to be the voice of our respective Wards. 

I certainly understand why you might choose to abstain. I also understand that it is completely within your rights to do so. There are legitimate reasons to abstain. For example:  you do not think you know enough about the issue at hand to make an informed decision. Which begs the question, why don’t you know enough. Perhaps you are withholding your vote as a means of protest. Of course, your vote for or against could be your protest vote. 

Then there is the only appropriate reason to abstain which is that you believe voting on a particular issue represents a conflict of interest. 

Sadly, however, abstaining is almost always done for purely political reasons. You know at some point you will be up for re-election, and you simply do not wish to be ‘on the record’ on certain controversial items. 

Graphic source: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

You count the votes and upon seeing that it will either pass or fail with or without your vote, you choose to abstain. You want to be able to say to your constituents “I didn’t vote for it!” if it turns out badly. Or, conversely, ignore the vote completely if the issue turns out to be popular.

While it may be the politically expedient thing to do, it is also a cowardly thing to do. You can be respected for taking a stand and losing. There is nothing disrespectful about that. But how can you expect any respect for doing… nothing?

You were elected to do a job. You were elected to represent the citizens in your Ward. You are paid to do that job. Either do that job or step aside and let someone else, who will take it more seriously, do it. 

If you choose to abstain, why are you even here? Why are we paying you? 

Your constituents deserve better, and your city deserves better.

Chris Frye, Editor of Flint: Our Community, Our Voice, can be reached at

According to their website Flint: Our Community, Our Voice is the main communications arm of Flint Neighborhoods United.

Flint Neighborhoods United is a coalition of block club, neighborhood association and crime watch captains and presidents (or their designated representative) who come together on the first Saturday of each month to share information and leverage their resources to create positive change in the Greater Flint community. The group’s focus is from a city-wide perspective versus the focus of the individual members of a specific neighborhood or area within the city.

Author: Tom Travis

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