Last week, residents of Flint, Mich. elected into city council seats four individuals with checkered pasts. The twist is that two of the new council members are convicted felons, including one man who served time for second-degree murder.
Flint, a working-class city 66 miles northwest of Detroit, has a history of crime, poverty and budget problems not alike what has occurred in the Motor City. The state doesn’t bar felons from elected office unless they were convicted of fraud or public corruption as an elected official. This rule gave Wantwaz Davis, a man who served 19 years in prison for second-degree murder, an opportunity for the seat.
According to reports from the Flint Journal, Davis defeated incumbent Fifth Ward incumbent Bernard Lawler by 71 votes. Davis has been very frank about the details surrounding his 1991 murder case; He was 17 when he shot and killed 27-year-old Kenneth Morris.
“He went and reached in his pocket, so I reached in my pocket and I shot him,” Davis said last Wednesday (Nov. 6). “When I found out he later died, I turned myself in. I never intended to shoot Mr. Morris. To this day, I am very remorseful.”
Davis says the Morris killing was in retaliation for the man s-xually assaulting his mother. While in prison, Davis began to study politics thus leading to his current position. The Journal was not aware of Davis’ conviction although he says he’s been forthcoming about his past.
Eric Mays, also elected last week, pleaded guilty to felonious assault in 1987 and served a year-long probation. Mays says a man threatened his life, causing him to return the threat with a gun. While there may be grumblings from the Journal about not reporting the convictions of the men, and the bankruptcies of two other elected council members, they will not be removed from office.
“The council people are elected. They’re going to get sworn in on Monday. Nothing you write about it is going to change it now. It’s not something that was hidden or should be a surprise to constituents in the Fifth Ward,” Council President Scott Kincaid said last week.
Photo: Mlive.com, MichiganNow