March 29 2017 05:35 AM

Councilwoman cites health; McClurken only candidate in 4th Ward

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story listed an incorrect date for the City Council filing deadline.

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include statements from Jim McClurken and Thomas Stewart.

WEDNESDAY, March 29 – Lansing City Councilwoman Jessica Yorko, who has represented the 4th Ward since 2009, won’t seek a third term.

Left: Yorko; right: McClurken
Yorko said in a Facebook post this morning she has been diagnosed with a medical condition that has led to dislocated ribs and significant pain. The treatment, she said, would require months of intensive physical therapy and may require surgery.

That leaves Jim McClurken as the only candidate who has filed to run in the 4th Ward. The filing deadline is April 25.

“I wish her a speedy recovery, but her leaving the race really doesn’t change any of my strategy for my campaign or any of the issues I’ll face. I intend to work hard for every vote and win the trust of the 4th ward,” McClurken said.

Steve Japinga, director of government relations for the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, said he believes others may file.

“I believe that just because it is the 4th Ward, and so many people are active in this ward, that there may be others who will file,” he said. He noted he lives in the 4th Ward.

Names that have been mentioned as possible candidates include Brian Jackson, who ran as a Democrat for Ingham County prosecutor last August, and former City Council at-large candidate Tom Stewart.

"This is the first I'm hearing of it," said Stewart of a possible 4th Ward run. "I haven't given it any thought."

Brian Jackson did not respond to a Facebook message seeking comment.

Japinga was hard pressed to identify any specific policy move by Yorko during her eight years on Council except the complete streets ordinance, which required the development of bike lanes on major streets.

“I think Jessica has done a very good job of representing the 4th Ward, but I know that she really wants to focus on her health and her family right now,” he said.

Yorko’s complete Facebook Message follows:

4th Ward Friends,

I'm writing to let you know that I won't be filing for re-election to the Lansing City Council. Some of you may know that I have been experiencing significant pain in my left shoulder, arm and wrist for some time. After recently making the rounds to numerous specialists, I was diagnosed with a condition called adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder, which has led to dislocation of a few ribs along with tears in the deltoid muscle and tendinitis in much of the arm and shoulder. The good news is that adhesive capsulitis is completely curable. The bad news is it requires six months of intense therapy and joint and muscle injections, and working with osteopathic manipulation folks to re-locate the ribs. Then, depending on the outcomes of those interventions, I may still need to undergo laparascopic surgery and/or procedures to break up scar tissue that has developed. I’m optimistic that if I work hard in physical therapy, I can avoid the surgical options. I’m eager to begin this process right away and commit myself to the work I need to do in physical therapy. Unfortunately, I cannot undergo an intense therapeutic regimen, work full-time, be present for my family, represent the 4th Ward on City Council, and meet my own expectations for an aggressive re-election campaign. I love the adrenaline, strategy, teamwork and competition of campaigning. That said, I cannot sustain the level of commitment the people of the 4th Ward deserve and still have time for the hard work to ensure a full recovery and a return to public service.

I intend to fulfill my ongoing duties as 4th Ward City Councilperson through the expiration of my current term, and I will be watching with great interest as the election campaign unfolds.

The Fourth Ward is the best place to live in the world. The people who live here are the best people I know. Residents are more organized, cohesive and powerful than ever before. Neighborhood groups are active, driving remarkable changes, and continually committing acts of kindness and creativity – large and small – that bind us as a community. I know that, together, we have been cultivating “sleeping giants" – leaders who will work to represent all of our interests collectively and astutely, regardless of our age, income, or other forms of difference.

For those who have already made campaign contributions, I will connect with each of you to find out if you would like your pro-rated contribution returned to you (accounting for the campaign expenses we’ve already incurred), or if you prefer a donation to a reputable charity.

It is an honor to represent you. I look forward to continuing to work with you. With affection and gratitude.