Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton visited Flint on Sunday to attend a community meeting with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver. During remarks at the meeting, Clinton discussed her support for the Flint community amid the city’s water crisis and federal states of emergency.
The Flint water crisis began in April 2014 when the city switched from Detroit city water to Flint River water. In the weeks and months following the switch, citizens began reporting adverse health effects, but the city didb’t return to Detroit water until Oct. 2015.
Clinton’s visit follows her mention of the Flint water crisis in the last two Democratic debates and on the campaign trail. Additionally, the visit came just two days before the New Hampshire primary, where Clinton trails Bernie Sanders by 20 points, according to a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.
Clinton’s appearance was preceded by a sermon by Pastor Kenneth L. Stewart in the House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church where the meeting was held, in which he encouraged patrons to wait for God’s assistance in the crisis.
Clinton discussed the need for both immediate action in the form of infrastructure improvements and long-term monitoring and care for the affected children. Lead exposure in young children can lead to developmental issues and can cause behavioral problems and affect future academic performance.
“This is no time for politics as usual,” she said. “Flint should be able to start making the repairs you need to have clean water as soon as possible. We need to do so much more to provide health care and educational support for Flint’s children.”
Clinton talked about lead poisoning as an issue affecting communities across the country, citing her work dealing with lead-based paint exposure during her tenure as one of New York’s senators.
She said she would stand by the Flint community and fight to ensure they are taken care of.
“As a senator I fought for children,” she said. “I will fight for you in Flint no matter how long it takes.”
Citing an amendment to a bipartisan energy bill proposed by Senator Gary Peters (D–Mich.) and Debbie Stabenow (D–Mich.) — which would provide $200 million in federal funding for Flint — Clinton said she supported legislation aimed at assisting the city.
U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) also recently sponsored comprehensive legislation, which would provide $765 million in federal funding to Flint for both short-term infrastructure repairs and long-term support for affected children. The bill additionally requires the state to match every dollar provided by the federal government with state funding.
In an interview Sunday Kildee said he thought Clinton’s support helps raise the issue to the national level it needs to get the proper response.
“I think her presence helps elevate this to the national issue it should be at,” he said. “A national issue is a legitimate issue that Congress should take up. The moral outrage that people feel that she expresses doesn’t mean anything if it’s not translated to help for the people of Flint, and that’s the message that she helped deliver.”
Flint resident Laura Henry said she believes Clinton will help ensure Flint will receive the support it needs to get through the crisis.
“I think it was very nice of her to come,” she said. “It was an awesome experience. I think she is going to look out for us. She is going to do the best she can to make sure we get all of the help and resources we need.”