|By City Pulse Staff|
Tune in to “City Pulse on the Air” at 7 p.m. Wednesday on 88.9 FM The Impact to hear the primary election candidates for the 1st Ward and July 20 for the At-Large candidates. Pick up the Election Preview issue, including City Pulse endorsements, on July 27.
1st WardLynne Martinez
No stranger to elected offices
After serving roughly 16 years as an Ingham County commissioner and state representative, Lynne Martinez is campaigning for an office closer to her community: 1st Ward Lansing City Council.
Martinez said this campaign is different from years past only because there won’t be a “D” next to her name.
“Campaigns all work the same way,” she said. “Door-knockings, mailings and keeping in contact with voters. The real difference is that this one is nonpartisan. Though people do recognize that City Council members do kind of have partisan backgrounds.”
Martinez, 63, was also executive director of the Greater Lansing Housing Coalition for two years until 2009. She now has multiple consulting contracts in the area, including with the Ingham County Land Bank on its PROP home rehabilitation program and the city’s proposed bike-sharing plan.
Martinez is volunteering to help launch a Lansing time bank where people exchange day-to-day services free of cost. She believes this could provide an opportunity for a younger and older generation to interact with each other in the community.
“That multi-generational approach is very exciting,” she said. “Both are groups with huge resources and capacities and talents they’d be happy to share.”
Martinez said the medical marijuana issue is “not completely settled among neighbors” in the 1st Ward. The dispensary ordinance, as drafted, would wipe out dispensaries on Michigan Avenue, a main corridor through the 1st Ward, in a year.
“Some people were hoping grandfathering would be eliminated completely. Some feel (dispensaries) are not such a big threat and their businesses are better than vacant buildings,” she said.
So why did Martinez, an eastside resident, decide to run for Council at this point in her career?
“I’ve watched the arguments and the 4-4 splits on too many projects,” she said. “We need consensus-building on City Council.”
At-Large candidate says Council needs a new image
Thomas Stewart is making his first run at an elected office this summer at the age of 29 because: “If not now, then when? If not me, then who?” And he thinks the Lansing City Council is due for a change of image.
“It’s time for new leadership (on Council),” he said. “I’m frustrated with some of the dysfunction. It reflects poorly on the city.”
Stewart grew up in Bath and lived there until recently moving into the city. Though he did not participate in the special May 3 millage election (he would have voted yes, he said) because he didn’t switch his voter registration information in time, Stewart did sign an affidavit when filing as a Council candidate indicating he has lived in the city since Jan. 1. The Lansing City Charter requires elected officials to live in the city for at least a year before they take office.
Stewart obtained his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Michigan State University and started work on his MBA but didn’t finish. He worked for two years at Demmer and now does his own “business development consulting.”
Stewart is also a founding member of REO Town’s Art Alley — which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary — and the Center for New Enterprise Opportunity (NEO Center) business incubator on the east side.
Stewart acknowledged he faces an uphill battle when it comes to name recognition — if not in the Aug. 2 primary, then certainly in the Nov. 8 General Election — in the At-Large race: Derrick Quinney and Carol Wood are already known for their time served on Council, while Rory Neuner announced recently an endorsement from the Lansing Chamber of Commerce.
A fifth candidate, John Krohn, also will be a challenger in the primary. How will he overcome that?
“Doors, doors, doors. That’s how I do it,” he said.
Stewart said he believes Mayor Virg Bernero “has great vision for Lansing” even though he doesn’t always agree with his “tactics.” Stewart calls himself a “middle-of-the-road guy, left of center,” which explains his position on medical marijuana: “The business side of me says (dispensaries) are filling up vacancies and I assume are paying taxes. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be regulating. Sitting on our hands this long was not a solution.” He also said “giant neon pot leafs (in storefronts) I don’t think does Lansing any favors.”