March 18 2013 12:00 AM

Harold Leeman and Joe Manzella endorse Lynne Martinez for City Council

Lynne Martinez
Tuesday, Sept. 20 — Two former First Ward City Council opponents joined together in Hunter Park today to endorse Lynne Martinez in the First Ward race.

“I think this is really exciting anytime you can say former opponents are coming together because we had the same purpose,” said Martinez, a former state representative. “We’re no longer opponents, we’re now cooperating on getting Lansing moving.”

Martinez is facing Jody Washington in a race observers say is close. Martinez beat her by 57 votes in the Aug. 2 primary election in which Leeman, a former 1st Ward Councilman, finished third and Manzella, a newcomer, finished eight votes behind him in fourth place.

Manzella said his three main campaign issues centered around young people, immigrants and regionalism, which require an experienced leader to help sort out the myriad of issues assorted with those three priorities.

“It’s navigating that morass that requires a leader with experience, a leader who’s been there, done that and can get things done again,” Manzella said. “I think Lynne can get all those things done.”

Leeman also said he was endorsing Martinez because of her experience working with the city and getting involved in the issues.

“I trust her in knowing what the issues are, how to study those issues and talk to individuals that may be affected and to move the City and the Ward in a progressive way,” Leeman said. “We’re going to get you in there and get the Ward back to the way it should be represented.”

Martinez chose to hold her press conference in Hunter Park to illustrate the changes that can occur when the community comes together with a vision to improve.

Ten years ago, the park was fenced in, overgrown and a hub for drugs and prostitution, Martinez said. The community came together and partnered with the city to gradually rebuild the tennis courts, fix the pool and add walkways, play structures, a hoop house and a community garden.

Now, the park is a “hub of activity” for the community, Martinez said. The park stands as an example of what can happen when neighborhoods come together and partner with the City to rebuild and improve community assets.

“I think all of us came into this race because we agreed that the issues are most important and people are most important,” Martinez said. “To have these two fine folks here with me today saying we’re agreed that this is what matters, I’m really proud of that and I’m really humbled by that.”