13-year-old Monte Scott’s work filling potholes in Muskegon Heights lands him standing ovation at Gov. Whitmer’s State of the State address

Monte Scott waves to the crowd at the State of the State address in Lansing Wednesday night. Photo via the State of Michigan

After Monte Scott spent his day off from school filling potholes in his Muskegon Heights neighborhood last year, the now 13-year-old’s work landed him a standing ovation and recognition from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at the State of the State address in Lansing last night.

“When I met Monte, he told me his dream is to go to college and run for mayor; I wouldn’t be surprised if Monte is giving this speech one day,” Whitmer said as the crowd cheered for the Muskegon Heights student, who attended the State of the State address at the Michigan State Capitol with his mother, Trinell Scott. 

Following Whitmer’s statements about Monte, the teen stood and waved to a crowd that clearly adored him; their cheers and applause filled the cavernous room.

“You can already see he’s got the personality for politics,” Whitmer joked after Monte waved and smiled at those before him. 

[To see the full video of Whitmer recognizing Monte, please click here and go to the 9:25 mark.]

In March of 2019, Monte, then 12 years old, decided something needed to be done with the potholes—some more than an ankle deep—plaguing his neighborhood and took it upon himself to start addressing the problem.

“After some expensive car repair bills, he got tired of waiting for the adults in charge to fix them, so Monte took action,” Whitmer said at the State of the State. “To the delight of his neighbors and his mom, he grabbed dirt and a shovel from his backyard and filled them himself.”

Monte Scott with his mother, Trinell Scott, after being honored by the Muskegon Heights City Council last year. Photo by Anna Gustafson

Monte’s work vaulted him into stardom: a Facebook video of him went viral, he was written about in countless publications, and his story was told on television screens across the world. 

“I wasn’t expecting the attention,” Monte told the Muskegon Times after he was honored by the Muskegon Heights City Council in April. “I hope it will get more people to start thinking in a positive way, to think about the ways they can help.”

He also landed recognition from Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist at Wednesday’s Detroit Policy Conference, when Gilchrist lauded Monte’s work filling potholes. Plus, he received words of praise from the governor before the State of the State: in April, Whitmer called Monte to thank him for his work.

“As governor, I’m really proud of you,” Whitmer told Monte during that phone call. “You’ve inspired me today and given me confidence that we’re going to be alright.”

As Whitmer noted in her State of the State, Monte is setting his sights on being mayor, and plenty of people are encouraging him to do so—and to aim even higher. We’ve received emails from readers—from Muskegon Heights to Texas and California—encouraging Monte to run for president of the United States, and “Monte for President!” is a comment we’ve seen time and again on articles about the student’s hard work.

“I want to go to college to be a mayor,” Monte told us in our first interview with him. “If I were mayor here, I would go to the homeless shelter and help people. I’d get them clothes and shoes and all the stuff they need to help them back on their feet. I’d fix the roads. And help out around the community. I would have a big gathering for the community, where people could eat, play basketball and get together.”

Monte Scott in front of some of the potholes he filled in Muskegon Heights last year. Photo by Anna Gustafson

Monte may be known around the world for filling potholes, but the student has done much more than that. He routinely volunteers to shovel people’s sidewalks and driveways, mows yards up and down his street, and helps senior citizens with bringing their groceries into their homes.

“Ever since he’s been able to walk and move around, he’s helped,” Trinell Scott, Monte’s mother, said in a previous interview with the Muskegon Times. “If you talk to any of his teachers, they’ll tell you he’s a helper. They often say they wish they could clone him.”

With the spotlight on his good deeds, Monte said he hopes it inspires more people to lend a hand—whether that’s bringing in someone’s groceries or tackling larger-scale societal issues.

“I want people to help us stop people from killing each other; all of us should come together instead of slowly breaking apart,” he said.

Story and photos by Anna Gustafson, the publisher and editor of Muskegon Times. Connect with Anna by emailing MuskegonTimes@gmail.com or on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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