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Former Flint mayor Don Williamson dies

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

A colorful and controversial former mayor of Flint has died.

Don Williamson's death from a respiratory ailment was announced Tuesday by Genesee County prosecutor David Leyton, who called the former mayor a "brilliant" businessman who "could turn about anything into a profit."

Don Williamson’s tenure as Flint’s mayor was anything but boring.   

Williamson tried several times to be elected mayor of his hometown. He finally took office in 2003, after winning an election to succeed former mayor Woodrow Stanley, who had been recalled from office.    

As mayor, Williamson was involved in numerous controversies. He also oversaw a swelling budget deficit. It was that deficit that landed the city in the hands of an emergency manager a few years later.

Williamson resigned in 2009, just weeks before he was to face a recall election himself.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says Williamson “was a hardworking public servant who served to the best of his ability.” She’s ordered flags at Flint city hall to fly at half-staff.

Williamson was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. He and his wife managed car dealerships.

In the 1960s, Don Williamson served 3 years in prison for felony convictions tied to his business dealings.

Williamson lived in Davison Township after leaving office, where he built a bronze statue of himself with a motto: "Success is the best revenge."

Don Williamson was 85.

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.
The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
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