Exclusive interview: Whitmer aims to restore Flint's trust in government

Published: Feb. 12, 2019 at 11:00 AM EST
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(2/12/2019) - When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer delivers her first State of the State address Tuesday evening, she plans to talk a lot about rebuilding Michigan's infrastructure.

That extends beyond her campaign promise to "fix the damn roads." In an exclusive interview previewing the speech with ABC12, Whitmer said she also wants to focus on repairing water infrastructure.

"We've got to clean up our drinking water," she told ABC12. "We also need to fix the rest of our infrastructure -- from roads to bridges. There are so many bridges in our state that have hundreds of temporary support holding them up. These are bridges where buses full of school kids are going over, our families are driving under."

She plans to mention the Flint water crisis, which caused many city residents to lose faith in government.

"How do you restore that trust? Their trust was violated. We can't earn it back overnight. I'm determined to earn it back," Whitmer said.

That's a message Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is looking forward to hearing. She will be in the audience when Whitmer takes the podium for her hour-long speech.

"We want Flint to move forward," Weaver said. "We talk about making Flint whole -- what needs we still have, doing good treating, testing fixtures. That's the gap. We need trust -- just following through and doing what you say going to do."

The governor also will call for unity in the Legislature, which she knows won't be an easy road in a Republican controlled Legislature.

"I know that I'll disagree with people on the other side of the aisle," Whitmer said. "The fact of the matter is, clean drinking water its not about Democratic homes or Republican homes. It's about doing the right thing."

Political analyst Paul Rozycki said Whitmer will have to call on her experience in the Legislature and crossing the aisle to work with Republicans to accomplish anything significant as governor.

Watch the State of the State address live on ABC12 channel 12.2 or at beginning at 7 p.m.

Matt Franklin and Angie Hendershot will offer live coverage from Lansing at 5 and 6 p.m., followed by reaction after the speech at 11 p.m.

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