The Michigan Political Union held a debate Tuesday on if Gov. Rick Snyder (R) should be recalled in light of the Flint water crisis.
The debate stemmed from sentiments among the Flint community and nationwide aiming to hold Snyder accountable for a perceived lack of action and involvement in the crisis. Approximately 10 students attended.
When the water supply in Flint was switched from its original source in the Detroit to the Flint River in April 2014, the lead in the corroded water line leaked into the city’s drinking water supply, but the contamination wasn’t addressed for multiple months, until residents began complaining of adverse health effects.
The state, for several months, maintained that the water was safe. Following independent testing showing lead in the water, Snyder reversed course, declaring a state of emergency on Jan. 5.
President Barack Obama also declared a state of emergency in the city on Jan. 16.
The University has also gotten involved — to aid the residents of Flint and the University of Michigan-Flint campus, University President Mark Schlissel appointed $100,000 in funds to research the water contamination on Jan. 22.
During the debate, LSA junior Joshua Strup, president of the Michigan Political Union, said the crisis in Flint and Snyder’s perceived negligence of the issue should not be an ongoing problem. He said before focusing on whether or not Snyder should be recalled, people should consider whether any governor should be recalled at all, as they were chosen by popular vote.
“Whether you approve of Governor Snyder or not, he was duly appointed through a direct election of the people to this position,” Strup said. “Similarly, if you were in Michigan 15 years ago, we had Governor Granholm and whether you liked her or not, she was the duly elected governor of Michigan.”
Granholm was elected governor of Michigan in 2003.
Strup said whenever the matter of recall is brought up the elected official becomes focused solely on staying in office instead of focusing on the issues.
“While he might not have done the best job, I’d rather have him doing work instead of making speeches to keep his job,” Strup said. “I think a recall procedure is partially just political grandstanding and stops the proper governance of a state.”
The electorate should be held responsible for their choices, Strup said, and the choice to elect Snyder is something that should not be reversed.
“Once we make a decision, we should stick by that decision,” he said. “Our system is not perfect. We as members of the state must work to formulate a more perfect society, but we have to accept the consequences of our decisions both individually and collectively.”
Engineering junior Tyler Dubay, who is from Flint, said responses from government officials to the water crisis were not punctual and there was negligence on Snyder’s behalf.
“Even though there are children being poisoned and there is something that needs to be done, I think we’re going about this entirely the wrong way,” he said. “We’re focusing more on who to point fingers at than actually fixing the situation.”
However, instead of debating whether Snyder should be recalled, Dubay said, people need to focus more on how to fix the water problem in Flint.
“We need to focus this on a multitude of levels to figure out what the problem is and how to fix it before we go and start pointing fingers,” he said. “In order to figure out who’s to blame for this situation, we need to not point at one single person, because this is a class action against the entire government system between the city of Flint and the state level.”