Flint, Michigan, has been in the national spotlight for the last several months regarding their lead-poisoned water and the city’s mayor, Karen Weaver, has been very vocal about the issues concerning her city. From visiting the White House and having a one-on-one with President Obama, to having her city host a free citywide #JusticeForFlint concert that boasted big names like Stevie Wonder, Musiq Soulchild, Jazmine Sullivan, Ryan Coogler and Ava DuVernay, the mayor has been super busy.
The mayor was also present at Sunday night’s Democratic presidential debate where former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders debated at the University of Michigan, Flint Campus. Rolling out was on the scene and spoke with Mayor Weaver about who she thought was the winner of the debate, who she’s choosing to support in the Democratic presidential race, and she also touched on Flint’s immediate needs and concerns. Check out the interview below, and let us know if you agree with Mayor Weaver.
Who was the clear winner of tonight’s debate?
Well, you know, I believe Hillary Clinton was the clear winner of tonight’s debate. One of the reasons I would have to say that is because I thought she had a very, very clear plan, she was very thoughtful and she’s really put some actions behind her words. One of the things I have let people know is that as soon as we did this emergency declaration in the city of Flint, she immediately sent some high level people here to see what was going on. And they’ve been coming almost every single week. We’ve been in touch several times a week and she heard one of our cries that was going on in the city of Flint because in addition to the water, we have some other things going on that we need to be working on. Something that was really, really bothering me was the National Guard came in to help distribute water, and while that was a really good thing because it was ensuring that people were getting clean water, we knew they were getting paid millions of dollars to do it. And we’ve got this high unemployment rate and we have young people between the ages of 16 and 24 that aren’t in school that needed some work, and it’s like they could be doing that, they could also be helping to distribute the healthy food diet to our kids and our families. The other part that she added to that, which is more than just delivery, is the training. So they’re going to get job skills training, and that’s going to be really, really exciting. And we’re going to be putting them with plumbers because we need to go into people’s homes and look at the plumbing system and get those things taken care of as we fix these lead lines. So, they’re going to be getting trained and will go through an apprenticeship program. Their going to get skills that they can take with them wherever they go. We need to put some things in place to help keep our young people here. This was an opportunity for us to really turn a bad situation [around]. And while we can’t forget what’s happening, we know we’ve got to continue to keep the spotlight on what has happened and get our kids and our families the resources and the services they deserve. But if we don’t make something good happen out of this, then we’ve failed our community twice. And so she’s been very vocal, and very forceful and very supportive in that effort, so, I think she did a really, really good job.
With the spotlight continuing to shine on Flint, and all the water drives going on, what are the immediate next steps for the city?
Well, you know what? One of the immediate next steps is what we started just Friday and that was removing the lead service lines, and we’re going to continue to do that. So, I was really excited about that. And what we decided we needed to do was we prioritized because we know we needed to start with homes where we had kids under the age of 6 or pregnant women, those with compromised immune systems and our seniors. So, getting that going was huge and we’re going to continue to work on that and while we’re starting with those we’ve prioritized, we also have to get some money coming in because we’ve got to do an entire infrastructure system here in the city of Flint. The other is what I talked about as far as the jobs, because we know that jobs are going to be coming as we’re looking to fix different things and making sure that we keep some of those jobs local and making sure we have some minorities getting some of those jobs. That’s what we’re working on right now, so you’ll start seeing that roll out. So that’s another really, really good thing. We need to be a part of the healing process and the rebuilding process of bringing Flint back. Those are the type of things you’ll start seeing immediately.