Walling who has run for Flint mayor four times says he still has work to do but he plans to take it to a state level.
“I love Flint and always will but I know after serving two terms it’s time for me to look at other ways to serve,” said Walling.
A recent effort to recall Flint Mayor Karen Weaver has spurred rumors that Walling was interested in putting in another bid for the mayor’s seat if backers of the recall collect the estimated 5,800 signatures needed to move their effort forward.
If the necessary signatures are collected, Flint will see another mayor’s race on the November 2017 ballot along with the city council race.
Walling says instead, he is eyeing Michigan’s 49th District state House seat currently held by Phil Phelps, D-Flushing, whose term is up in 2018.
“I’m thinking about a position with the legislature state government because so much of what we’ve experienced in Flint has been because of the state’s actions,” Walling said. “I think that’s where I can make the most difference.”
Weaver took the mayor’s seat from Walling November 2015, just months after it was reported that children in Flint had elevated blood lead levels since the city switched its water source from Detroit to using the Flint River.
Walling had been elected to serve a partial term in 2009 and later re-elected to a four-year term in 2011. In 2014 the city switched their water source under the leadership of an emergency manager put in place by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder while Walling was in office – a switch that some claim was also Walling’s fault.
The former mayor says he is sure that is one of the reasons he lost to Weaver in 2015.
“I think I was in a strong position to get re-elected until there was…so much new information about lead and so many questions about what happened…on peoples’ minds at that point and time,” Walling said. “I know I still have unfinished work here in Flint and I want to serve this community. It’s a matter of figuring out the best way to do that.”
Phelps was elected to the 49th District state House seat after Sen. Jim Ananich resigned to replace Genesee County Clerk John Gleason on the Senate after Gleason was elected Genesee County Clerk in 2012.
“I’m still young and I hope that over the course of my career I will be able to serve at the local state and possible federal level in some capacity,” Walling said. “Hopefully my long career will include all of those things at some point.”