Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Event: It will be Dayne Walling against Don Williamson.



Some big news here. The Flint Journal writes of yesterday's primary: Williamson vs. Walling: Newcomer shows mayor is vulnerable.

With 12% of the population voting, incumbent Don Williamson took the plurality. However two thirds of the votes were divided among his six challengers. As some predicted, Dayne Walling handily walked off with the challenger's spot, taking 23% of the vote.

In fact, after the decisive tally was completed, mayoral candidate Norm Bryant drove to Walling's HQ at Luigi's Restaurant to formally endorse him. Even if Bryant's votes went to Walling, and all of the other challengers' votes went to Williamson (an unlikely situation, since it was pretty much a pile-on upon the sitting mayor), the challenger would win in a general election of the same distribution.

The wild cards, of course, are in whether the greater turnout of a general election would affect this distribution, and whether Williamson's better funding will make a critical difference.




I'm planning to use this blog to support the Walling campaign, though strictly in an independent capacity. Williamson hasn't been completely ineffective as a mayor, but he's cost the city millions of dollars in expired federal grants. He has been able to paint over graffiti and pave the roads. Still, given the lack of more substantial progress due to his perpetual stalemate with the city council as well as state and federal agencies, he has not earned a second term. On top of this, his autocratic style and high-flown pronouncements are particularly damaging to a city struggling towards innovative solutions and expediencies. These are remedies that can only come about in the context of a vigorous, open dialogue and with the cooperation and oversight of many levels of government.

Dayne Walling may not have the grit between his teeth we expect from a "typical Flint mayor". Maybe we somehow associate GM layoffs with his equally young and well-coiffed predecessor, Matthew Collier. Maybe he seems too new to the scene. Maybe there is something to the suspicion that navigating Americorps is not the same as surviving a political scene so bloodied and angry that it makes Chicago seem tame.

And yet, Walling's background is not of incidental importance. If there is one strand we can draw between his Americorps work and the photos with President Clinton, his association with D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams and his writing for The Uncommon Sense, it is an impulse toward public service and an understanding of political realities. As I've been saying for years, this is, in fact, precisely the combination Flint needs in any effective mayor. It is a combination from which Flint has not recently benefitted, with the possible exception of the sadly trunchated term of Interim Mayor Darnell Earley in 2002.

So I'm officially putting my support behind the Dayne Walling candidacy.

I support it emphatically.




It's worth mentioning from time to time, but I don't live in Flint anymore. I love my hometown, and follow the news there weekly. If I think I have something worthwhile to say about local politics, it's my right and privilege to say it. I won't apologize about posting, even if I end up posting from Pitcairn Island. However, I've gotten comments from Flint residents from time to time, and I always hope to receive more. I ask and encourage Flint locals to either comment on these posts, of if you'd like to approach me about posting something you wrote yourself, I can be contacted here.

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