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The Woman Leading Flint's Recovery From the Water Crisis

Mayor, Flint, Mich.

WEAVERa
PS - Flint Mayor Karen Weaver in her office in downtown Flint on Monday, October 10, 2016. Weaver, a native and the first female mayor, has been tasked with bringing the city out of it's ongoing water crisis in addition to tackling a violent crime rate and economic disparity. Today, she remains a controversial figure for residents who feel the city's elected officials are doing too little, although, she herself is relying on bottled water alongside them. “It’s sad that we have to fight so hard for what we deserve in this man-made disaster,” she said. “It’s frustrating to have to remind people that we are taxpayers, we are U.S. citizens, and we deserve clean, affordable drinking water.”
The Washington Post
No mayor in America has a harder job than Karen Weaver. Shortly after she became the first woman elected to lead Flint, in 2015, Weaver declared a state of emergency in the city, which was already consumed by its lead water crisis. “We knew that public health needed to be the focus,” she says, “and we weren’t going to put profit over public health ever again.”

This direction came easily to the mayor, a psychologist who knew firsthand the damages that lead could do to children and other vulnerable populations. She felt “a moral and ethical responsibility to speak up on these things,” and she’s fought to ensure that her community benefits as much as possible from the rebuilding of Flint’s water infrastructure -- that local young people are employed handing out bottled water and local companies get contracts for construction. Weaver says Flint is already ahead of schedule, having deemed safe or replaced more than 16,000 of the 18,000 pipes under review. “I want to make sure we recognize there are so many Flints across this country,” she says. “I hope people are paying attention to what happened in Flint, because we don’t ever want this to happen again.”

 
Read about the Women in Government program and the rest of the honorees.

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.
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