Flint’s tainted water and broken trust

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By Natasha Blakely
MI First Election

It is no wonder Flint residents don’t trust the presidential candidates. Gov. Rick Snyder has emphasized that the Flint crisis is a failure of government at every level. The state government’s focus is less on the people and more on the legal battle it is facing. With their faith in government shaken, the residents’ outlook on the presidential race is bleak.

Gary Martin, 70, has lived in Flint for roughly 40 years.

Gary Martin, 70, has lived in Flint for roughly 40 years.

Cindy Simons, 66, said, “(The candidates) are about as sincere as they are about anything else. Take everything with a grain of salt. I don’t trust any of them.”

Simons was born and raised in Flint. After a brief time living in another township, she moved back to Flint in 2005. She said that lately she has been regretting that move.

Gary Martin, 70, who has lived in Flint for roughly 40 years, was clear on his positions regarding each candidate. He had a firm opinion on each one, some kinder than others.

Martin said, “Bernie’s nothing but a communist. If it’s so good why don’t he go to Korea or China. Cruz, he’s the only one who seems like he’s got a brain.”

Genesee County Clerk John Gleason has his own view on the presidential race, and how the Flint residents view it.

Gleason said, “Right now the people don’t expect much because there isn’t much there. There are very few outside of the Democrats. There have been no substance to what the Republicans have been saying. So I would say the Republican voters aren’t expecting much. They haven’t gotten much in over a year.”

The Bernie Sanders office in Flint doubles up as a water collection station.

The Bernie Sanders office in Flint doubles up as a water collection station.

At this point, Bernie Sanders is the only candidate with a headquarters in Flint. According to Mark Craig, the volunteer coordinator for Sanders’ Flint office, Sanders intended to open the headquarters in Flint before the crisis became a hot media topic.

Over the past year, a lot of media attention has been paid to the court cases deciding who gets the blame for the water crisis. It would be easy to assume that the crisis itself is over. However, that is far from the case. Water distribution stations are still set up at fire stations around town for residents to collect water and recycle their empty plastic bottles.

Donnie Jones, 40, is a single father and Flint resident.

Donnie Jones, 40, is a single father and Flint resident.

Donnie Jones, 40, a single father of two young boys, said, “I still can’t even wash my kids in clean water. It’s scary. It really is.”

Bottled water is still being distributed, but that is merely a stopgap fix to a larger, more long-term problem.

Gleason said, “There needs to be a reinvestment. We need infrastructure: new water, new sewer, new streets. Whoever the next president is has got a daunting task, because they’re going to have to invest in infrastructure.”

The water crisis in Flint is eroding the trust Flint residents have in public officials as each day goes by without a permanent resolution.

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