Questionnaires conducted by Lansing's League of Women Voters.
The eight-member Lansing City Council is the legislative and policy-making body for city government. Elections are held in odd-numbered years and four members are elected at-large and four represent wards. They serve staggered four-year terms. The Lansing City Council is the legislative and policy-making body for city government. It sets policies, approves budgets, determines tax rates and adopts ordinances and resolutions to govern the city. The council also confirms citizen volunteers to a number of boards and advisory posts.
Non Partisan. Term: 4 Years. Candidates: Choose 2. Questions:
. What special qualifications would you bring to the office of Lansing City Council Member?
2. What issues do you want to address, if you are elected as a City Council Member? 3. Residents are concerned about maintaining city services and balancing the city's budget, what can be done to ensure that city services are maintained?
4. What is your plan for the Lansing Board of Water and Light?
Emily Dievendorf Consultant Campaign Email:
1. I have a long history in service and public policy. I’ve served as executive director for Equality Michigan where I advocated for LGBT friendly public policies among legislators at every level of government. Prior to Equality Michigan, I worked in the Michigan House for two state legislators. City Council I have at-large worked candidate to achieve justice in many areas including LGBT equality, race relations, women’s rights, and was recognized by Crain’s Detroit Business as one of “Ten People to Watch in State Politics” in 2014, and was appointed in 2015 to the Michigan Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
2. I’m focused on economic growth, safety and our neighborhoods. Lansing must become a hub for today’s cutting edge industries that can draw on the talents of our residents today while adding skills to make our success sustainable moving forward. Our stability and growth depend on public safety and we can’t merely beef up the city’s law enforcement budget. We must also work to build trust between our public servants and the citizens that depend on them. The strength of our neighborhoods relies on cooperative Lansing City ventures Council at-large between candidate the business sector and the average citizen. Citizens respond in kind when businesses invest.
3. Lansing needs to identify strategies to avoiding future bankruptcy that will allow for continual and high quality support of the basic needs of our citizens and businesses without the application of a bandaid solution. Too often long term planning Lansing City Council at-large candidate is left out of a government fix. When shortfalls exist, we should look for areas where there may be wants instead of needs and seek to fill those shortfalls with funds that are part of long term solutions for and investments in our city that don’t penalize the citizens and businesses that serve as our strongest assets.
4. The LBWL is a community treasure. While we should be exploring all possible solutions to our budget crisis, we shouldn’t be looking to the BWL first to fill holes created by the city’s less successful ventures. We need to support the BWL in ways that guarantee its public ownership and relevance for decades to come – which requires that, in addition to not jumping into selling it, we develop a strong strategic plan to gradually move the BWL away from coal Council while at-large investing candidate in the training and retention of the workforce it supports so that we can more easily grow toward a cleaner and more energy efficient future.
Harold J Leeman Jr.
Candidate did not respond to questionnaire.
Patricia Spitzley Deputy Redevelopment Manager for the RACER Trust Campaign Email:
Lansing Patspitzley4council@gmail.com City Council at-large candidate
1. I am an attorney in good standing with the Michigan Bar Association and I would use my legal training to assist the Council. In my current position Lansing City as Council Deputy at-large candidate Redevelopment Manager for the RACER Trust, my primary duties include working with communities such as Lansing who have been negatively impacted by the closing of GM facilities. I would use my experience of attracting economic development to those communities in Lansing as we work to attract good paying jobs to the community. I have worked with members of the City Council and the Mayor and would use those relationships to improve their working relationship.
2. Stability of our Lansing Budget and the restoration of the City's rainy day fund would be priority for me as City Councilwoman At-Large. This has to include addressing legacy retirement and pension costs which are estimated to be 600 million dollars. A review of City of Lansing assets, including buildings and parks should also occur and surplus lands and buildings put up for sale. I would also want to continue to look at ways to facilitate regionalization of City services. I want to work with LEAP to bring a jobs to this community and also work to ensure thriving neighborhoods.
3. By establishing what are essential city services and preserving those services. Essential city services include public safety - fire, police, code enforcement, parks and recreation, and sanitation. The Financial Health Team put forth a number of short and long term recommendations to address the City's budget. As City Councilwoman At-Large, I would move to adopt some if not all of the recommendations of the Financial Health Team.
4. I believe that the Lansing Board of Water and Light is a city asset that is critical in attracting economic development in the City of Lansing. My plan for the Lansing Board of Water and Light is to work with the City Council and the Mayor to continue to hold the utility accountable to implement changes needed as a result of the recommendations from the Citizen's Review Team convened after the 2013 ice storm. At this point I am not in favor of selling the utility. I am in favor of an top down audit of the utility's administratively and financially. Any discussion on selling the LBWL is premature and nonproductive.
Carol Wood Public Servant & Consultant Campaign Email: votecarolwood@ gmail.com
1. Over 25 years of working to improve the quality of life within neighborhoods. I became active in neighborhood issues working with my mother Ruth Hallman, to make a difference in the community. This included changes to the Housing Code as well as helping to implement team policing with the Lansing Police Department. Out of 400 housing units within GNA boundaries documented by the LPD that 137 were involved with drug activities today there are 6. Serving for 15 years on Council as chair of each Committee & President twice. "No Politician in Lansing is better at listening to constituents than Carol Wood-LSJ 01/04/14 2. Stabilization and revitalization of neighborhoods 1) working with many partners (Neighborhood Associations, Unions, Economic Development agencies, etc.) to balance responsible development across all four Wards of the city; 2) providing a clear transparent and accountable city government & a government that is inclusive of all residents and listening to their voices as we make decision for Lansing; 3) balancing the city’s annual budget in a manner that does not jeopardize safe neighborhoods, critical public services. Partner with community-based organizations to raise the standard of living for Lansing’s underserved.
3. Securing short and long term financial stability through prudent management of city resources. a. Wise stewardship of financial resources results in the city’s ability to meet and exceed service demands and obligations without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same. b. Pursue and facili tate shared services regionally that allow for cost savings and revenue enhancement. c. Support initiatives that build the City’s property and income tax base. d. Filling vacant as soon as possible to maintain essential services. e. Development of performance based budget.
4. It is irresponsible to continue the uncertainty of a vital asset which is used to attract businesses to invest in Lansing and the region. BWL increases our economic stability by reducing a community’s reliance on the whims of private businesses. Will businesses feel confident to invest with this drama going on? Council needs to move forward with the recommendations for operational audit to determine if there are additional changes that will help BWL run more efficiently. Council & BWL Commissioners need to work more closely together for the sustainability of BWL. The public has been clear "Keep BWL public utility."
City of Lansing Council Member Ward 1
Shelley Davis Mielock Small business owner, marketing professional and adjunct faculty member. Campaign Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. I am a small business owner and seasoned business professional. As a former banking executive, I understand the importance of fiscal management and data driven decision making. I am a consensus builder and problem solver who can bring people together, despite differing views.
2. Public Safety is my top priority. I am a strong advocate of community policing and neighborhood watch programs. I will work to ensure the police have the necessary resources to fight crime and continue LPD’s innovative data-driven approach to law enforcement. I will also promote neighborhood revitalization efforts like the Land Bank and prioritize a crackdown on absentee landlords. As a Lansing City Council 1st Ward candidate Lansing single mom, full-time employee, and small business owner, I understand the importance of having access to good jobs in the community. I will work to continue the economic resurgence on the Eastside.
3. The budgeting process must be driven by data. In dealing with shortfalls, I would recommend that any cuts be prioritized to have the least impact on neighborhoods and public safety. I would support exploring opportunities for regionalism, cost reduction, and address duplication within the budget.
4. The Board of Water and Light is one of Lansing’s treasures. My plan would be to review all of the data before any recommendations on its future.
Candidate did not respond to questionnaire. candidate
City of Lansing Council Member Ward 3
A'Lynne Boles Candidate did not respond to questionnaire.
Adam Hussain Social Studies Teacher Campaign Email: Hussai17@gmail.com
1. I am a public school teacher with a Master’s in Educational Administration. I have been a long-time neighborhood leader, the president of my neighborhood’s association for the past several years, a neighborhood watch coordinator, and served on the Lansing Park Board for five years (2010-2015). I was also nominated for the Emerging Leader Award in 2015. I am an involved and passionate Southwest Lansing resident that only wishes to see our part of town move forward. I will be successful in building relationships and leveraging those relationships as a means of moving our part of town forward and embrace the opportunity 2. The neglect of Southwest Lansing. Our corridors are crumbling and code issues are extensive, which is causing us to experience a proliferation of disreputable businesses
that fail to create good, well-paying jobs. Further, we have had next to no investment in our part of town. We need to do a better job at marketing Southwest Lansing aggressively and opening up the economic tool box to bring jobs and investment. Our neighborhoods/residents are feeling unsupported and disconnected as well. We must address code issues, attack public safety concerns, and work to coalesce the community to move forward as a united front.
3. Much has been done to make city government more efficient. City workers have made tremendous sacrifices, we have reduced the size of city government, and we are delivering services in varied ways. As a result, we are expecting to realize two consecutive years of budget surplus. With that said, we need to continue to work with the Financial Health Team, the Mayor’s office, and most importantly, our constituents, during budget time to make sure that we are making sound decisions that take into consideration the budget and quality of services being delivered, and reduce appropriations not related to city services.
4. To keep as is. The Board of Water and Light is an asset to our community. People move to Lansing, live in Lansing, and start and expand businesses in Lansing because we have a public utility. Further, the BWL makes decisions based on public good, not profit margin. This means that after a devastating ice storm, like what was experienced in 2013, the community has a platform to air grievances, to be a part of the process moving forward, and that the result is always a stronger, more efficient utility. Further, rates are kept in check and profits that are made are are shared with the hardworking employees of the utility.
City of East Lansing Council Member
The five-member East Lansing City Council is the legislative and policy-making body for city government. Elections are held in odd-numbered years and members are selected at-large. They serve staggered four-year terms. The Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem are appointed by the elected council. They also appoint the City Manager who is responsible for the day-to-day administration of city government.
Non Partisan. Term: 4 years. Candidates:
Questions: 1. What are your qualifications for serving as an East Lansing City Council Member?
2. What are the three biggest challenges or opportunities facing the community of East Lansing?
3. What can or should be done to strengthen the relationship between East Lansing and Michigan State University (MSU)?
4. What could the city council do to strengthen its relationship with neighborhood associations?
Erik Altmann Professor of Psychology, Michigan State University Campaign Email: email@example.com Campaign Website: ErikAltmann.com Education: Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon University (Computer Science); Bachelor of Science, University of Alberta (Computer Science)
1. My civic credentials include: East Lansing Planning Commissioner, Master Citizen Planner (through MSU's Land Policy Institute), former East Lansing Historic District Commissioner, alumnus of the East Lansing "Emerging Leaders" civics training program, and vice-chair of the Bailey Community Association. I'm well versed in the critical issues facing the city, including development strategy, infrastructure renewal, neighborhood preservation, and legacy costs. To become familiar with the work and the workload of a city council member I attended every council meeting for a year as an observer and occasional speaker.
2. The three biggest challenges are: (1) The blight at the corner of Grand River and Abbot. Bad decisions by city officials over the years have prolonged the problem and actually increased the number of blighted buildings. (2) The decay of our neighborhood infrastructure, including everything from roads and sewers to parks and playgrounds. (3) The city’s debt to its retirees, which is over $100 million and growing, not shrinking. Already this debt is over three times the size of the city budget. Our biggest opportunity is to draw on the East Lansing community brain trust to think creatively about these problems.
3. The city should draw on the expertise of MSU faculty and emeriti in areas such urban planning, economic development, and architecture. Their input would lead to better outcomes for the city and would make the interdependent relationship between MSU and East Lansing more visible to MSU's higher administration. As a large corporate entity that is part of the city, MSU will ultimately have to play a role in addressing the city's fiscal challenges. MSU's obligations will become clearer when city leaders step up and start planning for what it would take to fund infrastructure renewal and pay our debts to city retirees.
4. The city council could strengthen its relationship with neighborhood associations by respecting the work they do in terms of planning and policy oversight. For example, just recently the Red Cedar neighborhood identified significant problems with the parking plan for the Trowbridge Plaza redevelopment. The city council didn't listen, and now the parking there will never work properly. When the city rejects good advice like this it has a chilling effect on dialog that is essential or good government. The city should also offer free monthly meeting space to neighborhood associations, to remove a barrier to growth.
Shanna Draheim Campaign Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Campaign Website: www.shannadraheimforeastlansing.com Education: B.A. James Madison College, Michigan State University; MPA, Environmental Studies, Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs
1. I am a public policy consultant with 20 years’ experience working for public and private sector organizations on environmental and community planning issues. I conduct policy research and analysis, manage projects, and facilitate stakeholder groups. I have also been an active member of the East Lansing community.
I served for 7 years on the city's Commission on the Environment, volunteered with East Lansing’s public schools and Recycle East Lansing, and served on the East Lansing Relay for Life leadership team. These experiences will enable me to be a thoughtful and bold leader for our community.
2. 1. Continuing to provide exemplary services to residents, such as police, fire, water, library, and recycling, while man aging long term legacy costs. 2. Developing our downtown, consistent with our community master plan, to be a vibrant place that offers amenities for all generations of East Lansing residents and visitors. 3. Improving relations between students and permanent residents.
3. The city and university both have a vested interest in East Lansing being a high quality place to live and do business. We must work together on issues of joint concern, such as land use, community planning, public safety, and environmental protection. This will require proactive engagement and building strong relationships between all levels of the city and the university, including city council, MSU trustees, MSU administration, city and university department leadership, and staff.
4. Each of East Lansing’s neighborhoods is unique and has particular interests that must be heard and integrated into ongoing city decision-making. The city should proactively engage neighborhood leaders in dialogue on issues that affect their neighborhoods. There is already a city staff liaison for each of the neighborhood associations, but City Council should also play a role in engaging with individual neighborhoods. This might include attending neighborhood association meetings, or designating a city council, as well as staff, liaison to our neighborhoods in order to ensure ongoing communication and partnership.
Mark S. Meadows Retired Attorney Campaign Email: email@example.com Campaign Website: www.MeadowsforEL.com Education: B.S. Western Michigan University J.D. Detroit College of Law (now Michigan State University College of Law)
1. I have experience in every aspect of Council operation as a former East Lansing Council Member and Mayor of East Lansing. I also bring experience in policy d e - velopment and implementation gained during my time as a State Legislator.
2. 1. The development of the corner of Abbot and Grand River 2. Addressing a n d developing an achievable plan to handle the legacy costs the city has an obligation to fulfill. 3. Addressing and developing an achievable plan to replace, upgrade and maintain the city's sewer, water and transportation infrastructure.
3. The City has a much stronger relationship with MSU than this question implies. That being said, every relationship can be strengthened. It is inevitable that the City's interest and the University's interest will diverge at times. When that happens it is critically important to keep the lines of communication open and to re-empathize the mutual efforts that are on going.
4. Neighborhood Associations are a key element in developing city policies. They tend to be better able to take the pulse of the neighborhoods and they should be more involved in performing that function. The City Council has supported the development of Neighborhood Associations for as long as I have lived in East Lansing. The sharing of information by the Council can help gather community support for Council decisions and it seems that this essential two way relationship has been eroded in the last few years. The Council needs to reestablish this two way relationship as a priority.
Steve Ross Partner at Practical Political Consulting Campaign Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Campaign Website: www.steverossforeastlansing.com Education: BA, Political Science, Michigan State University 2008
1. I have lived in our community for over 10 years and have experienced East Lansing as a student, a small business owner, and currently as a homeowner. Because of this, I have a unique view of the city and an understanding of the challenges it faces from varying perspectives. When seeking out solutions to important issues, I will keep the needs of our diverse community in mind and look to build consensus around issues that are beneficial to our community as a whole.
2. We have so much to be proud of in East Lansing, yet like all communities, we face tough challenges, like: 1) Finding ways to invest in our neighborhoods and infrastructure while revenues are down 2) Fixing the blight that has plagued our downtown for over 10 years 3) Funding the legacy costs of retired employees that have accrued These items are real challenges that deserve a frank conversation that should, in my opinion, by led by our residents - not by politicians. In a community like East Lansing, we are fortunate to have some of the best minds and problem solvers in the world. Let's use that brain power!
3. In order to attract top notch faculty from across the world, MSU has a direct interest in supporting stronger neighborhoods and a prosperous downtown. In the competitive environment we live in, MSU needs East Lansing to be an attractive place to call home in order for them to attract top talent. Because of this, the City should work alongside MSU to direct them in ways they can support the community, for their benefit and the city's. Also, finding more ways the City and MSU can partner to provide services to the community while striving to meet MSU's educational goals should be a key focus in future discussions
4. After speaking with many residents while canvassing door-to-door, there seems to be a common perception that the needs of neighborhoods are, at times, being ignored while the needs of developers reserve the spotlight at council. This must change. Our unique neighborhoods are what makes our city so special and are the reason most people choose to make East Lansing home. We need to treat them as such and make them our top priority. Our homeowners and neighborhood associations must be given a seat at the table for all discussions pertinent to their quality of life, the spending of tax dollars, and our city's future.
Jermaine Ruffin Placemaking Project Specialist Campaign Email: email@example.com Campaign Website: www.voteruffin.com Education: Political Science -Lansing Community College '05, Social Relations and Policy BA Michigan State University- James Madison College '07, Urban and Regional Planning Master Candidate '17- University of Michigan
1. I have been engaged civically for most of my life. I am an alum of the East Lansing Emerging Leaders program, a former East Lansing Housing Commissioner, and a former Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Advisory Member. I am active professionally with a number of state and national organizations such as the State of Michigan Sense of Place Council, Michigan Economic Developers Association (MEDA), Michigan Community Development Association (MCDA), and the Project for Public Spaces Placemaking Leadership Council. My civic and professional experience would be a great asset to East Lansing City Council.
2. Resolving downtown development issues, identifying resources for neighborhood infrastructure improvements and retaining/attracting talent of all ages are the three major opportunities facing East Lansing. I believe we have an opportunity to create a community wide vision for the future of East Lansing that explicitly addresses these opportunities. By engaging East Lansing citizens and community stakeholders we can begin to plan for the development "we want", be strategic with limited infrastructure resources and become a community where people from all over the world want to live, work and play.
3. Michigan State University, its faculty, staff and students are a tremendous asset to East Lansing. City staff have taken positive steps to enhance its relationship with the University and Students. As an Alum of Michigan State University, I am keenly aware that we can and should take more steps to bridge the gap between East Lansing residents and students. We should continue to seek ways to be collaborative in addressing housing and amenity needs of current/retired faculty and recent graduates who may want to live or start a business in East Lansing. We are all East Lansing and that includes everyone at MSU.
4. I believe as a council we should engage in participatory planning with each of our neighborhood associations to identify the issue most important to its residents. We can no longer have a one size fits all approach to addressing the needs of our neighborhoods. Each of East Lansing's neighborhoods have a unique flavor that attracted our residents to choose them to call home. I believe its important to acknowledge that uniqueness and extend that thought process to how we invest strategically in each of them.
Nathan Triplett Nonprofit Management Attorney Campaign Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Campaign Website: http://www.votet riplett.com Education: J.D., Michigan State University College of Law, 2012. Masters of Public Policy, University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, 2009. Bachelor of Arts, Political Theory, Michigan State University James Madison College, 2006. Bachelor of Arts, Social Relations, Michigan State University James Madison College, 2006.
1. It's been my privilege to serve the people of East Lansing on our City Council since 2007. I have served as Mayor Pro Tem and was elected Mayor in 2013. I have been deeply involved in our community. Prior to serving on City Council, I was a member of the City’s Human Relations Commission and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Advisory Committee. I am a Past President of the Rotary Club of East Lansing and serve on the Board of Directors for CATA, LEAP, and Haven House. I am also the current President of the Michigan Municipal League. I am passionate about and committed to building a strong, vibrant East Lansing.
2. 1) Securing our community’s financial future. During my tenure, EL's debt is down, our fund balance is up, and we’ve earned a AAA credit rating. When I was first elected to the City Council, we had $0 set aside for retiree healthcare. Today, we have over $12.5 million. We must continue to prioritize strong financial management, careful planning, and disciplined budgeting. 2) Strong neighborhoods and sustainable downtown development. Diverse housing, retail, dining, and entertainment options for all types of residents and families. 3) Smart regional collaboration with neighboring communities and Michigan State.
3. East Lansing's relationship with Michigan State University is stronger today than ever before. I'm proud of the considerable work I've done to build that relationship on Council. It's essential that we maintain this relationship. Communication between City officials and university administrators must remain frequent and frank. Where possible, we should collaborate on issues that impact town and gown. Those issues include downtown revitalization, public transit, lifestyle conflicts between student and permanent residents, and housing policy on and off-campus. Like all good relationships, it requires constant effort.
4. Like our relationship with the university, the relationship between City government and neighborhoods should be based on frank and frequent communication and collaboration. We must continue to support and expand efforts like our City Staff Liaisons, Neighborhood Enhancement Minigrants, and the Council of Neighborhood Presidents (CONP). East Lansing's neighborhood associations play a vital role in identifying community challenges and opportunities, and in developing sensible solutions. Regular consultation and two-way communication through liaisons, CONP, etc. is critical. Genuine partnership with associations is key.
For information on other races and ballot issues in Ingham County, please see the League of Women Voters' website, lansing.mi.lwvnet.org.