17 people try to oust Flint mayor in winner-takes-all recall

DETROIT (AP) — Seventeen people are vying to oust the mayor of Flint today as the city slowly recovers from a lead-contaminated water crisis.

Mayor Karen Weaver faces recall in a winner-takes-all election in which winner will serve the final two years of her current term. The lengthy ballot includes Weaver, recall organizer Arthur Woodson and longtime City Councilman Scott Kincaid, who has received significant donations from labor organizations in a union-heavy town.

The ballot doesn’t refer to the water crisis. The official reason is Weaver’s decision to hire a suburban Detroit trash hauler that became connected to a federal corruption investigation. Still, the troubles caused by Flint’s ill-fated switch to a cheaper water source are on everybody’s minds.

The city stopped using Detroit’s water system and instead tapped the Flint River during an 18-month period in 2014 and 2015, as a way to save money while the city’s finances were under state control. But the river water wasn’t properly treated, which caused lead from pipes in older homes and buildings to leach into drinking water.

Some children were found to have elevated lead levels in their blood, which can cause developmental delays and other health problems. The disaster has led to 15 current or former governmental officials being charged with crimes, and lawsuits have been filed by numerous residents.