Flint voters will have a wide array of choices in November's mayoral recall election.
The city clerk's office says 17 people filed to run against Mayor Karen Weaver, including a longtime Flint city council member, a man that filed a lawsuit in January to arrest President Donald Trump, and a man that goes by the nickname Cowboy.
The recall effort against Mayor Karen Weaver stems from her support for a trash contract with Rizzo Environmental Services. She eventually dropped her support when the company was linked to a federal corruption probe.
In order to get on the ballot, candidates have to either pay a $100 fee or collect signatures of support from at least forty Flint voters. Most of the 17 candidates chose to pay the fee, but four have turned in signatures that will have to be verified before they can be added to the ballot.
Assuming they are, all 17 challengers, plus the mayor, will be on the November ballot. Whoever wins will serve the remaining two years of Weaver’s term.
Michigan Radio took a look at who these 17 candidates are, and what their wide range of backgrounds and experiences might bring to the table.
Scott Kincaid has served on the Flint City Council for more than 30 years. Kincaid fought against Weaver’s attempts to hire Rizzo Environmental Services. He is already on the November ballot for his 9th Ward city council seat.
Arthur Woodson spearheaded the recall effort against Weaver, and has been a prominent protester throughout the Flint water crisis. In his campaign announcement, he called for the end of “the cliques, the friendship, the nepotism, the cronyism” of city hall.
Other prominent voices in the Flint water crisis are running for mayor. Anthony Palladino Jr. is well-known as an outspoken voice at Flint city council and advisory meetings (he’s been forcibly removed more than once).
Sean MacIntyre is a citizen activist that spoke to Michigan Radio in 2015, and again in 2016. As of February 2017, MacIntyre and his family were refusing to pay water bills because they were distrustful of Flint officials' assessment that the city’s water is now safe to drink with a filter.
More traditional local candidates have announced their bids as well. Chris Del Morone chairs the Flint Land Bank Citizen’s Advisory Board. Del Morone ran for state Senate twice, and supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary. Don Pfeiffer is a Republican that ran in the 2011 mayoral primary and was a candidate for the state House in 2013.
Four of the candidates ran for mayor as write-in candidates in 2015. Of those candidates, Angela Ward faired best with 16 total votes. Former Flint School District board member David Davenport received two votes. Ellery Johnson and Ray Hall received one vote each.
Three more colorful candidates have also thrown their hats in the ring. Al “Cowboy” Wamsley is actually known by his signature cowboy hat. He was quoted in a 2015 MLive article explaining why he was running in that year’s mayoral primary this way: "The Lord told me to run for mayor. He's tired of everyone doing it their own way instead of his way ... (That's why) the city is under a curse."
It appears that Anderson Fernanders claims he is commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization that reached its peak membership in 1890 and formally dissolved in 1956. Fernanders filed a federal lawsuit in January calling for the government to label President Trump an enemy of the state and requesting his immediate arrest. So far, the federal government has not complied with either request.
Ronald Higgerson, who ran as a write-in for mayor in 2009, is a former truck driver turned artist. He's best known for his proposal to make Flint the marijuana manufacturing capital of the country.
The remaining five candidates for mayor are Woody Etherly Jr., Brent Jaworski, David Meier, and Jeffrey Shelley.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this story listed 18 candidates to challenge Mayor Weaver, but one of the candidates was not certified by the City Clerk.