(This story has been updated with comments from Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley and former Mayor Karen Weaver.)
FLINT, MI -- Flint voters are getting a re-run in the November race for mayor after incumbent Sheldon Neeley and former Mayor Karen Weaver finished as the top two vote-getters in the Tuesday, Aug. 2, primary election.
Neeley won 4,943 primary votes (48.8 percent), followed by Weaver with 4,062 (40.1 percent) to set up the rematch of their 2019 election battle. 1st Ward Councilman Eric Mays received 1,123 votes (11 percent), according to unofficial results reported Wednesday, Aug. 3 by the Genesee County Clerk’s Office.
Flint’s charter calls for the two top vote-getters in the primary election to face off head-to-head in November -- something that Weaver and Neeley did just three years ago and will do again this year.
When the two candidates were on the 2019 general election ballot, Neeley narrowly won by a 7,082 to 6,877 margin.
Neither candidate could immediately declare victory on primary election night this year as results were slow to trickle in. The unofficial results show10,128 ballots were cast in the race on Tuesday with 4,145 of those coming from absentee voting.
In the final days on the primary campaign, each of the three candidates rallied their supporters to turn out at the polls on Tuesday.
Weaver embraced her status as a former mayor throughout her campaign, saying her administration had “championed the fight against the worst man-made water crisis in American history” during her first term as mayor.
The challenger said she was best prepared to handle issues like rising property taxes, public safety, gun violence, economic disparity, and “systemic racism that plagues Flint.”
Weaver continued to push her public safety agenda through the end of the primary campaign, vowing to use drones, live cameras and to better utilize the police intel center to cut violent crime. In her campaign materials, she vowed to increase police department staffing to at least 150 officers.
Police Chief Terence Green said in May that the department had 105 officers.
Neeley also told voters his track record as mayor merited a second term, pointing to a $170-million pension system bailout from the state of Michigan as evidence that he can solve stubborn problems where others have failed.
Neeley administration officials have said the one-time pension-system boost may have saved Flint from bankruptcy and will give residents better city services in the future because of smaller future pension payments from the general fund.
He has also focused on his public safety efforts as mayor. Neeley recently announced that part of a $850,000 Charles Stewart Mott Foundation grant will help pay for a gun buy-back program in Flint as well as an expanded cold case resolution unit, development of a witness protection program, overtime pay for police officers, and funding for the police department’s intelligence center.
In a statement Wednesday, Neeley said he and his supporters “are grateful to God and humbled by the overwhelming support of the city of Flint and its support of the work we’re doing to affect positive change.”
“We will continue to move forward in our efforts to unite this community and to focus diligently on fulfilling our commitment to the residents to continually build on our legacy of faith, strength and resilience.”
Weaver said she was “humbled and thankful to the voters of this community that gave me another opportunity to serve them once again.”
“I think that if you look at the election results of last night, it is pretty clear that the community is not satisfied with the direction this city is going in under the present leadership,” Weaver’s statement said. “The results between the three candidates show that there were more votes cast against the present leadership than for the present leadership. In analyzing the results, I believe that I am in a strong position to be able to serve the people once again.”
Mays came up short in his effort to make it to the general election on Tuesday.
The 1st Ward councilman ran his campaign on a shoestring, printing no flyers and putting up just one yard sign.
“We’ve been running a word-of-mouth (campaign). Vote Mays and tell five or 10 people” to do the same, he said in a Facebook video late last week. “We are the underdog.”
Read more at The Flint Journal:
Live election results for Aug. 2, 2022 primary in Genesee County
Meet the three candidates who want to be Flint’s next mayor
Junge wins GOP congressional primary, to face Kildee in November
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