For the general election, City Pulse asked all the candidates to answer a series of general questions. In Ward races, candidates were asked to answer Ward specific questions and concerns. Here are the responses from Adam Hussain, candidate for the Third Ward:
1. Lansing is in the midst of a "surge" or "epidemic" of heroin related overdoses and deaths. How should the city address the increase in heroin use in the city?
We first need to acknowledge that there is no single failsafe solution when it comes to mitigating and reversing this epidemic. Everything must be on the table and the plan must include prevention and treatment. We need to start with our youngest citizens and ensure that they have access to opiate-awareness education. Warning signs, prevention and other such issues should be broached in a developmentally-appropriate manner. We need to work with our local health department and related agencies to ensure that opiates are not being overprescribed. We need to explore federal grant programs that offer communities money to identify those in need of treatment and monitor the amount of opiates that are being prescribed. We need to ensure that our police department has the resources necessary to counter this devastating trend and combat the growing number of predators preying on our most vulnerable citizens. Lastly, we need to ensure that those who are suffering from addiction have the treatment and resources they need to overcome this terrible addiction.
2. Chief Yankowski, with support from the Mayor and the Prosecutor, has announced an immunity of sorts for heroin addicts seeking treatment. Do you support this? Why or why not?
I support this and am proud of our local leaders for taking such a position. I believe we need to do everything we can to support those individuals that are looking for help in overcoming addiction. Criminalizing these types of actions has a negative impact on others who may be looking to receive treatment and dissuade them from seeking help.
3. If elected to council what will you do to address the burgeoning heroin crisis?
I will support any and all measures that are aimed at preventing and treating heroin addiction. I will advocate for funding that puts the necessary resources in our officers’ hands to keep drug peddlers from preying on our citizens. I will work to partner with officials on all levels of government to ensure that the necessary funding and resources are available for our health officials to not only offer prevention programming, but to also effectively treat those that are struggling with addiction. Further, I will engage my constituents and support a community dialogue about the heroin crisis in order to raise awareness and solicit ideas.
4. Ingham County has one of the highest HIV rates in Michigan, however, despite the surge in heroin overdoses, there is no needle exchange program. Does Lansing need a needle exchange program and if elected are you willing to revisit paraphernalia laws in order to prevent those providing clean needles from being charged with a crime? Why or why not?
I would happily revisit paraphernalia laws in order to prevent charges stemming from needle exchange. My understanding is that various communities throughout Michigan have implemented needle exchange programs and have had great success in doing so. The rates of HIV and Hepatitis C are alarming and I am in support of any measure we can adopt to help mitigate this issue.
1. Over 30 percent of Lansing's housing stock are rentals. Is this too much, too little or just the right mix of rental properties? Why?
We have many responsible landlords and renters in Lansing and I would never claim that 30% is too high of a number. What does need to be discussed, however, is our Code Compliance Office, and whether we have enough code officers for a city of our size, and whether or not the inspection process is working as is. I would like to hear what the Mayor’s group and Council’s ad hoc committee determine after their studies are concluded, and hope to be fully informed as the budget begins to take shape early next year.
With that said, we need to actively work at making Lansing a better place to live, work and raise a family. I believe by supporting our front-door communities, rejuvenating the corridors that connect our neighborhoods, and supporting our public safety officers, we can attract those potential homeowners that are looking for quality housing in vibrant, attractive, and safe communities.
2. Landlords continue to report significant lag times between paying for and obtaining inspections on rental properties. How should Council address this problem?
Again, I think the answer could be additional funding for code compliance. It is very difficult to know for sure, however, as we have had vacancies in Code Compliance for more than 18 months and are not sure what can be accomplished when we are working at full capacity. I would like to see the positions filled, studies conducted, and determinations made regarding staffing levels.
3. Landlord's are currently allowed to send a letter to code compliance acknowledging having fixed identified violations. Do you support this action? Why or why not?
I do not support this. We need to be actively following up to ensure that all violations are taken care of as a protective measure for our residents, neighborhoods, and housing stock. Although I believe most of our landlords have integrity and self-report in a responsible manner, we need to guard against those who don’t.
1. Lansing roads are in significant disrepair. The state is unlikely to increase revenue sharing -- which has been declining for a decade. How you propose fixing Lansing's roads?
I think we need to continue to focus on our two largest revenue streams, property and income taxes, and find ways to enhance those revenue streams. We need to make Lansing a better place to live, work, start a business, and grow a business. We need to publicize the success and necessity of the road millage and ensure that voters understand the importance of continued support for such measures. I also believe we need to examine the budget closely and determine areas from which we can divert funds to roads and other transportation infrastructure.
1. Do you support marijuana legalization?
I am not necessarily opposed to allowing voters to decide the issue, but I need more information to truly formulate an educated opinion. My understanding is that we would be only the fifth state to legalize marijuana, and I am not sure that there is enough evidence out there, one way or the other, that speaks to its impact on society.
2. Lansing has a comprehensive human rights ordinance. Is that law working, or is it broken? If it is working, please explain why you believe that. If you believe it is broken please explain how and how you would fix the problem.
I think the problem is that not enough people know the ordinance exists. There are others who are aware of its existence but don’t know how to file a complaint. My understanding is that the Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity is working diligently to fix these issues and I am confident that they will find solutions to this problem.
3. Do you support a woman's right to choose?
I know women who have had to make the difficult decision to abort and I don’t envy the position they found themselves in, nor do I judge them. As a city council representative, I will have no jurisdiction over abortion — nor should I.
1 Name the three largest issues facing the city (for at large candidates) or the ward.
1.) The absolute neglect of our corridors and commercial districts in Southwest Lansing. We need to do a better job at enforcing code, placemaking, and marketing these areas in an aggressive manner. We need to attract reputable businesses that invest and create jobs in Southwest Lansing and work to create better transitions to our front-door communities.
2.) Unsupported neighborhoods. Many of our residents in Southwest Lansing feel that their neighborhood, and neighborhoods all throughout Southwest Lansing, are not receiving the attention deserved from City Hall. We need to do a better job at responding to concerns, supporting organization within neighborhoods, bridging the gap between Southwest Lansing neighborhoods, and supporting a shared message that resonates within City Hall.
3.) Residents in Southwest Lansing report heightened levels of crime and many are being driven out of their neighborhoods. Further, we have lost businesses along our major corridors that have cited the uptick in crime as the primary reason for leaving. We need to do a better job at providing the necessary resources and tools for our police officers so that they can combat the proliferation of crime occurring in our part of town.
2. What are the three most significant things that have happened in the city or Ward in the past four years.
1.) The continued neglect of Southwest Lansing by A’Lynne Boles and other powers that be has left our side of town in a precarious position. It would be extremely tough to find a 3rd Ward resident or business owner who could honesty say that things here are better now than they were four (or eight) years ago. We must act now, and that’s why I’m running for City Council.
2.) The 2013 ice storm. What happened in 2013 was tragic, but we learned from it and we now have a stronger, more efficient BWL. There were forums, public hearings, and the Community Review Team was established and provided numerous suggestions, along with others provided by the Michigan Public Service Commission, that have since been implemented (e.g. an improved Outage Management System, increased tree trimming). Additionally, Council has been more diligent in looking at Board appointments and ensuring that appointees are qualified for positions. The BWL is an absolute gem for Lansing and I believe it is much stronger today than it was a few years ago.
3.) The creation of Rejuvenating South Lansing. This fantastic group has worked tirelessly to bring attention to South Lansing, and the hard work is paying off. There is still much to be done, but our local representatives can’t run from the conversation that has been started. The message is clear: We deserve better in South Lansing and we are not going to stop fighting until South Lansing is prioritized.
3. What are the qualities of your opponent you most admire?
I don’t know much about A’Lynne Boles personally. I do know she has a fantastic daughter who loves her mother very much. As a parent of three girls, I can respect and appreciate that. Sadly, Councilwoman Boles’ campaign has decided to bring up my daughters, ages 4, 5 and 7, in negative campaign literature. That’s a line I would never cross — no political campaign is worth that.
1. While Statistics from LPD show that reported crime incidents have remained generally stable and static over the last several years, residents in interviews with City Pulse have consistently reported concerns about crime as a top issue. What can the city and you as a city councilmember do about the perception of crime in the ward?
First off, I am proud to be endorsed by our local Fraternal Order of Police because I am dedicated to making Southwest Lansing residents safer. Our city leaders must acknowledge that crime statistics don’t tell the whole story. There’s a “stop snitching” element that comes into play, and many crimes go unreported. We must be honest and acknowledge that crime is up, and we must work to confront the problem head on. We need to have a real conversation about SMART Policing and the data-driven decisions we are making. We need to acknowledge that one of the reasons crime data has remained static over the years is because we have a number of residents who fear retaliation and are less apt to call the police today than they were even five years ago. We need to fully fund public safety, ensure all funded vacancies are filled, anticipate retirements and promotions, be aggressive in recruiting new talent, and work with our neighborhood watch officer and other community police officers to strengthen and support our neighborhood watch groups.
Much has been made about the fact that you are the son of First Ward Council Member and Candidate Jody Washington. There are implication a family political dynasty is being established and that this will interfere with either or both of your abilities to represent the unique needs for your ward. How do you respond to such challenges and charges?
I am proud of the work my mother has done on Council. She is a leader who empowers and has built a team that is doing amazing things in the 1st Ward. With that said, I believe in Southwest Lansing and want to represent the residents of Southwest Lansing. My mother and I discussed this at length and she knows she is in for a fight. There are a finite number of resources in this city, and I believe we in Southwest Lansing deserve our fair share. I want people to understand that when we are sitting as council members, we are there to represent our constituents and our parts of town -- not our family’s interests. I respect my mother greatly, but the reality is that she decided to move to the east side of Lansing because she believed it was the right place to invest. Meanwhile, I’ve dug my heels in! I love Southwest Lansing and am going to fight to make it a better place to work and live – even if that means going head-to-head with Councilwoman Washington for city resources.