Tune in to “City Pulse on the Air” at 7 p.m. today on 88.9 FM The Impact to hear the primary election candidates for the At-Large race. Pick up the Election Preview issue, including City Pulse endorsements, on July 27.
1st WardJody Washington
Proudly not a ‘career politician’
Jody Washington prides herself on her work ethic, helping turn around the East Village neighborhood development on Lansing’s east side and being a freshman politician.
“When you’re a career politician, at the end of the day, you lose focus of the service and it becomes more about the adrenaline and the paycheck,” she said. “I don’t need the recognition. I want to help bring Lansing forward.”
Washington, 55, is an Eastern High School graduate who took classes at Lansing Community College, which she decided to cut short so she could devote more time to her family. She is a full-time grievance and litigation specialist at the state Department of Corrections and also works part time as a nursing assistant at the Pines Health Care Center. She’s a Lansing Fire Board commissioner, vice president of the East Side Neighborhood Association and a secretary on the Lansing Neighborhood Council board. She’s also on the East Village Condo Association executive board and a resident of that eastside neighborhood which is coming back to life with a new developer after the former developer lost the property in a forcelosure.
“A bad situation turned out to be amazing,” she said.
At a recent candidate forum, Washington said her top three priorities if elected are public safety, neighborhoods and jobs. She said with her background in corrections and her husband’s as a police officer, “We are acutely aware of crime in our city.”
In an interview, Washington said if elected, one of the first orders of business would be dealing with the budget, which took effect July 1. She said she would consider raising the millage rate to fund public safety and roads, a proposal that city voters turned down in May.
“If we looked at everything else and still needed money I absolutely would,” she said.
So what has this political newcomer learned about campaigning so far?
Along with taking in the “economic and racial” diversity of the 1st Ward while out knocking on doors, she said: “It’s a lot of work if you’re going to do it correctly. I went to every door personally. I have the shin splints to prove it.
Seeking a fourth Council term, undecided on a 2013 mayoral run
At-Large City Councilwoman Carol Wood doesn’t like the perception that she leads a bloc on Council against the Bernero administration.
“That bothers me. I’m not out there trying to put a team together. I ask tough questions, and I’m not going to apologize for asking questions,” she said. “Some people don’t like questions being asked.”
Wood, 61, graduated from Sexton High School and took some college courses at the University of Alaska. She does consulting work on the side, but Wood is more known for working as a full-time City Councilwoman, even though it pays as a part-time job.
Wood said the difference between this year’s campaign and those of the past is the economy.
“The economy has played much more into this year when you’re talking about what your ideas for the future are, sustaining services we have and moving forward,” she said.
Despite a recent survey of Lansing residents by the Lansing-based Marketing Resource Group that gave the City Council a D grade — which Wood has “a number of questions” about — she said she “hasn’t experienced” the sense that perhaps it’s not such a good year for incumbents.
“I haven’t experienced that at neighborhood meetings. There’s a frustration sometimes with government in general,” she said.
Wood said she’s “thought about” running again for mayor in 2013, but hasn’t “made a decision on it yet.” Wood challenged incumbent Virg Bernero in 2009, but lost by 4,010 votes, 62 percent to 37 percent.
“I’m not going to be someone who says absolutely no,” she said. “The only thing I’m looking at is fulfilling my term as Council member.”
In her 12 years on Council, Wood said she has “grown with patience” and “I try to listen harder,” which doesn’t mean “hearing what other people are saying to justify your own beliefs.”