'Little Miss Flint' wants presidential hopefuls at Youth Town Hall

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
Mari Copeny, who has become known as "Little Miss Flint" and is an advocate for Flint children, is calling on presidential candidates to commit to speaking to America's youth.

When Mari Copeny was 8, she wrote a letter to then-President Barack Obama, asking him to visit her hometown to see the devastation caused by the lead contamination of Flint's drinking water.

Copeny said Obama not only listened but traveled to Flint, shedding light on the crisis. 

Copeny, who has become known as “Little Miss Flint" and an advocate for Flint children, is challenging presidential candidates to do the same and answer questions from young people at a "Youth Town Hall." As of Thursday, 10 candidates have said yes.

They are: Democrats Michael Bennet, Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, Julian Castro, Mike Gravel, Seth Moulton, Beto O'Rourke, Tim Ryan, Joe Sestak and Marianne Williamson.

"From the students at Parkland to those on the front lines of the climate movement, to kids volunteering to fight homelessness to youth in my own hometown of Flint, Michigan speaking out about our water crisis, young people in America are fighting to make this country better and to create a better tomorrow," she wrote on her Change.org petition.

The petition, addressed to the Democratic National Committee, President Donald Trump and all other candidates, has garnered nearly 1,000 signatures in the week since its launch.

"... As young people, we have so much riding on the 2020 election," Copeny wrote. "Whoever wins will create laws and policies that directly affect young people in America for years and years to come. And it’s time for these candidates to meet with and hear questions from young people like me."

Booker met with Copeny in Flint on Wednesday, saying, "Whoever is the next president should be able to talk to people of all ages about their issues."

"But there are still more than a dozen other candidates who have yet to respond, and I want them to hear directly from those who want to see the first 'Presidential Candidate Youth Town Hall,' " Copeny wrote.


Twitter: @SarahRahal_