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Flint mayoral recall election struggling to gain public interest

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

November 7, Flint voters go to the polls to decide a recall election against the city’s mayor. But few voters seem interested in learning more about the large field of candidates on the ballot.

“Thank you for coming out to hear what these candidates have to say,” Jiquanda Johnson of Flint Beatwelcomed a sparse crowd watched an equally sparse number of candidates on the podium for a debate hosted by the online news outlet and a local Flint TV station.

Only five of the 18 candidates on the ballot took questions at the forum on Thursday.   Given the size of the field, the number of candidates were divided into two groups.   

Most noticeably absent from the forum was incumbent Mayor Karen Weaver.Weaver did have a good excuse. She was in Washington D.C. meeting with Trump administration officials on infrastructure issues.

The mayor is also expected to skip Tuesday’s second and likely final mayoral debate.   The second debate is expected to feature City Councilman Scott Kincaid, recall campaign organizer Arthur Woodson and most of the other candidates.

The recall election may catch many Flint voters by surprise. Mayor Weaver dropped her legal challenge against the recall at the end of August.

Weaver faces a recall vote because of her support of hiring a new garbage company. The mayor dropped her support for Rizzo Environmental Services after the company was linked to a corruption scandal in southeast Michigan.

The campaign itself has been slow to start.

Only in the past week have campaign signs and TV ads have started appearing.

Voter turnout is expected to be only about 12% to 15%, bolstered to some extent by regular city council elections taking place on November 7. 

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.
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