Flint Mayor Weaver survives recall election spurred by waste contract debate
- Karen Weaver will remain the mayor of Flint, MI after receiving nearly 53% of the vote in an attempted recall election, according to unofficial election results. In what MLive described as a "landslide victory," Weaver will now finish out her current term through November 2019.
- This recall election was said to be motivated by Weaver's support of Rizzo Environmental Services in a contentious contract debate last year that concluded after the company's involvement in a federal corruption investigation became public. Republic Services was awarded the contract in October 2016.
- Arthur Woodson, the person behind this recall, received a little more than 2% of the vote among 18 candidates. Weaver's closest challenger was long-time Councilman Scott Kincaid, one of her fiercest critics during the Rizzo contract negotiations, with 32%.
Weaver initially won in 2015 after besting an incumbent mayor amid the height of Flint's lead-tainted water crisis. Her decisions to declare a state of emergency and call for a federal investigation were supported, though the 2016 contract took a serious toll on her relationship with local officials. While some believe that lingering anger over the lead crisis may have been a factor in the recall, Woodson maintains the waste contract was his motivating reason.
Republic had been collecting residential refuse and recyclables since 2013 and was favored to continue by eight of the city's nine council members in June 2016. Weaver sided with Rizzo because it submitted the lowest of three bids, about $2 million less than Republic, and the city's financial situation was dire. Republic, and the council members supporting it, claimed that this comparison didn't recognize the full value of services being offered. This led to a dizzying series of events including calls for a state investigation, a public records lawsuit, multiple county legal motions, contract cancellations, days where collection was cancelled, days where both companies were collecting, and much more. This all ended when Rizzo's involvement in a federal corruption investigation came to light in October, though Weaver's office didn't recognize that as a reason for their decision. A one-year contract was finalized with Republic shortly after.
Rizzo was acquired by Canadian company GFL Environmental Services last fall. GFL continues to expand its presence in Michigan and recently took over multiple Republic contracts. Former CEO Chuck Rizzo Jr. and his father have since been indicted on charges including bribery in an investigation that has snagged 17 people so far. It was recently reported that Chuck Rizzo Jr. will plead guilty this week and forfeit more than $4 million.
- MLive Flint Mayor Karen Weaver survives recall vote with landslide victory
- Detroit Free Press Incumbent Karen Weaver survives recall, remains Flint's mayor
- Genesee County Election Division Unofficial Results
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