Oct. 21 2015 11:15 AM

East Lansing City Council endorsement

Mistrust of city government over economic development remains the No. 1 issue in East Lansing, where nearly half of residents opposed a ballot proposal in May to lower the bar for selling public property. The best way to deal with this split in public opinion is to make sure all sides are represented on City Council so the debate may continue.

To this end, we encourage voters to support these candidates in the Nov. 3 General Election: Erik Altmann, Nathan Triplett and Jermaine Ruffin.

Altmann, a professor of psychology at Michigan State University, has gained valuable experience on devel opment issues as a member of the city’s Planning Commission. He is a credentialed Master Citizen Planner from the MSU Land Policy Institute and a former member of the East Lansing Historic District Commission. His sensibilities would help find a better balance on development, including preservation, which takes a back seat to new and undistinguished design. And he has serious reservations about the exploding use of tax increment financing (TIF), a subsidy to developers with questionable results.

Triplett, East Lansing’s mayor (appointed by Council from its members), has become the much maligned symbol of the pro-development forces. Triplett, with a strong record on progressive issues, is hardly the kneejerk representative of developers he is portrayed to be in some circles. He does make sure the welcome mat is out to developers, as it should be. He just needs to pay more attention to making sure they wipe their feet.

Ruffin has an impressive background of civic experience, including serving as a housing commissioner and an adviser to the city on Community Development Block Grants. His first priority is resolving downtown development issues. Moreover, if the memories of several longtime East Lansing politicos is correct, he would be the first African-American to ever be elected to its City Council. That may seem surprising to outsiders who view East Lansing as a liberal mecca, but it was very segregated into the 1960s. The election of Ruffin, a well-qualified candidate, would make the past a little dimmer.