Flint’s mayor endorses Hillary Clinton for president

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president Tuesday, two days after the Democratic White House hopeful shined a national spotlight on Flint’s lead-contaminated water crisis.

Weaver said Clinton is the only presidential candidate from either party who has reached out to her personally to offer their assistance to the beleaguered Michigan city of 99,000 residents.

“We want a friend like Hillary in the White House ... because we know this is not going to go away,” Weaver said in a conference call with reporters organized by the Clinton campaign. “And we need a fighter. We need someone there fighting for the city of Flint. ... And Hillary Clinton has shown us that she’s ready to take that on.”

At the end of Sunday night’s debate, Clinton said every American “should be outraged” by what is happening in Flint, a predominantly poor and African-American community.

Clinton used the nationally televised debate to claim Gov. Rick Snyder’s response to Flint’s plight would have been faster “if the kids in a rich suburb of Detroit had been drinking contaminated water and being bathed in it.”

Snyder shot back Monday, telling The Detroit News that Clinton was “politicizing the issue.” The former secretary of state is in the middle of a close Democratic primary battle with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses and Feb. 8 New Hampshire primary.

Weaver has been working closely with Snyder in recent weeks and has appeared with him at two press conferences.

But Weaver sidestepped a question about whether Snyder should resign, as Sanders called for on Saturday after Clinton had talking about Flint’s water problems for several days.

“A lot of people have said the governor should step down. And I’m going to continue saying what I’ve been saying: We need people held accountable,” Weaver told reporters. “I can’t wait for the investigation to show us who knew what and when they knew things.”

A Snyder-appointed task force is investigating how state and local officials failed to treat Flint River water with corrosion controls to prevent aging pipelines from leaching lead metal into the city’s drinking water supply. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Detroit and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette also have launched probes.

Weaver was in Washington, D.C., Tuesday trying to get a meeting with President Barack Obama’s administration about Flint’s needs. She said the Snyder administration’s immediate response with bottled water, faucet filters and water and blood testing is not enough.

“We need more than just water and filters coming in,” Weaver said. “We need a bigger fix.”

Weaver was joined on the conference call with Clinton’s national political director, Amanda Renteria, who was dispatched to Flint last week to meet with the mayor.

“The idea that the governor waited or didn’t act fast enough was really an outrage for the secretary,” Renteria said. “... Whenever people are being ignored, it is the moment that Hillary Clinton says, ‘How can I help?’”

Clinton will continue pushing for health monitoring of Flint residents and creation of a “future fund” to pay for long-term medical needs of residents exposed to unhealthy levels of lead poisoning, Renteria said.

Renteria, a former chief of staff to Michigan U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Lansing, was noncommittal on whether Clinton would visit Flint in the near future.

“We’ll see about that,” Renteria said. “Certainly, we are giving her live updates, daily updates on this as it goes forward and really making sure to lean on what the mayor needs.”


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