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Flint's controversial new city councilman sworn in

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio
Fifth Ward Flint city councilman Wantwaz Davis taking his oath of office

The new Flint city council was sworn in to office today, including a new councilman who served time for murder.

Wantwaz Davis served 19 years for murdering the man he claims assaulted his mother.   He was paroled in 2010.

Davis says he embraces the biblical story of Paul, who changed from being a persecutor of Christians to being a Christian leader.   He says it’s a path people in Flint should follow.

“We can not cast aspersions against people who went down the same path as Paul,” says Davis, “I was not notorious like Paul. Some men sexually assaulted my mother when I was a kid and I defended my mother. And unfortunately, a murder ensued.”

But Flint resident Ray Collins is upset that voters in the city's fifth ward elected Davis their councilman.

Collins says the man Davis was convicted of murdering was his friend.   Collins heckled Davis at the swearing in, shouting “murder is different” from other crimes.  Collins was shouted down by other people in the audience who said Davis has served his time.

Davis is not concerned by those who may doubt his transformation.

“Anybody who is having a disdain or a dislike toward my transformation or my upcoming then that’s something that will have to come up between them and God,” Davis said after the swearing in.

The nine members of the Flint city council have several challenges ahead, including laying the groundwork for life after the city’s emergency manager leaves office.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.