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Hillary Clinton Endorsed by Mayor of Crisis-Ridden Flint—Here’s Why That Matters

January 19, 2016, 11:07 PM UTC
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Karen Weaver, the Democratic Mayor of Flint, Mich., endorsed Hillary Clinton for president on Tuesday morning.

“We want a friend like Hillary in the White House,” Weaver told reporters during a conference call organized by the Clinton campaign, reports the Huffington Post. “That’s exactly what we need to have happen.”

“As far as what Hillary Clinton has done, she has actually been the only—the only—candidate, whether we’re talking Democratic or Republican, to reach out and talk with us about, ‘What can I do? What kind of help do you need?'” she added.

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Though Weaver is the mayor of a relatively small city and has been in office for only two months, the endorsement has clout: The Flint water crisis has received national attention, turning the Michigan city into a household name and getting the attention of celebrities such as filmmaker Michael Moore and singer Cher. Weaver’s declaration of support also comes less than two months before the swing state’s primary elections.

The situation in Flint, where thousands of residents have been exposed to toxic amounts of lead, was declared a state of emergency by President Obama two days ago. During Saturday’s Democratic presidential primary debate, both Clinton and Bernie Sanders called for the resignation of Michigan’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder.

“We’ve had a city in the United States of America where the population, which is poor in many ways and majority African-American, has been drinking and bathing in lead-contaminated water. And the governor of that state acted as though he didn’t really care,” Clinton said during the debate. “A man who acts that irresponsibly should not stay in power,” added Sanders.

Snyder responded with a series of tweets, essentially calling out the Democratic candidates for politicizing a tragedy.

At a Martin Luther King Day event in Columbia, S.C. on Monday, Clinton called the water crisis “a civil rights issue,” due to the fact that most of the affected population is African American, reports Detroit News.

Exposure to lead—particularly in children—can cause brain damage, as well as damage to the kidneys and nervous system. USA Today estimates that about 9,000 children have been exposed.