April 6 2017 12:43 AM

Most challengers for Lansing City Council seats support controversial decision

THURSDAY, April 6 — Lansing City Council’s Monday night vote to approve a resolution that declares Lansing a “sanctuary city” has garnered a lot of attention and controversy.

Advocates for the declaration are claiming victory. Those opposed are claiming the resolution does not make the city a “sanctuary city.”

They may both be right.

The resolution says: “BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Lansing City Council declares the City of Lansing a Sanctuary City according to the Mayor’s April 3, 2017 Executive Order and this Resolution.”

In essence, the resolution seems to be saying we are a sanctuary city because of Mayor Bernero’s executive order, even though the executive order does not use the words sanctuary city. Another way of looking at it is how the federal government will, which is the city’s actual policy, not what it calls itself.

Check out a pdf of the final three-page resolution here, and the mayor's full executive order here. You can also see a detailed analysis by sanctuary city supporter Edilberto Montemayor here. Bernero appeared on Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight last night to discuss the decision.

But with four City Council seats on the ballot this November, we wanted to know where the candidates stand on sanctuary city and the resolution. So we asked them. And they answered. We wanted to know because the Council can overturn the resolution or the executive order, or both.

We know where the four incumbents stand because they all voted for the resolution: Tina Houghton of the 2nd Ward and At-Large Councilwoman Kathie Dunbar, who have told us they plan to seek reelection, and Jessica Yorko of the 4th Ward and At-Large Councilwoman Judi Brown Clarke, who are not seeking reelection,. Brown Clarke is running for mayor.

Here’s where the other candidates stand:

4th Ward candidates:


Elvin Caldwell

Do you support Lansing being a sanctuary city?

I completely concur with Lansing being a sanctuary city. The constitution mandates that we protect the rights of all residents that want to live in our country.

Do you support the resolution passed Monday night?

I support the resolution passed Monday regarding Lansing sanctuary city status. I also support the symbolism of the resolution. The council`s resolution passed last night does not create law but it does in fact corroborate the conscience of the community… the resolution strongly reflects the moral fiber of the Lansing community.

Will you encourage the next mayor to continue Mayor Bernero`s executive order?

I will encourage the next Mayor and all future Mayors to use their position of high public visibility to always be an advocate for all of the families and residents of the City of Lansing. I applaud the executive order authored by Mayor Bernero. The order creates a clear and concise code of action for law enforcement officials.


James McClurken

Do you support Lansing being a sanctuary city?

I support Lansing being a sanctuary city. Mine is a family of immigrants. I know first hand the worry and fear that immigrants, documented and undocumented, have of the federal government. While the City of Lansing must obey federal laws, our police do not have to take actions that exceed the requirements of those laws. Donald Trump’s and the Jeff Session’s Justice Department should show our city offices and their decision-making process the same respect that they demand for their offices.

Do you support the resolution passed Monday?

I support the resolution in general and I would have voted yes as a member of the Council.

Will you encourage the next mayor to continue Mayor Bernero’s executive order?

I would encourage the next Mayor to strengthen and improve the resoluton. I would support any mayor who will be a strong voice for those Lansing residents who are powerless in the face of unnecessary and hateful actions against them

At-large candidates


Matthew Ruddock

Do you support Lansing being a sanctuary city? Why or why not?

I absolutely support Lansing’s actions to become a sanctuary city. One of Lansing’s biggest strengths is our small town feel while being one of the largest cities in the state. I moved here about a year ago and I’ve certainly felt welcome and accepted by neighbors and community members. I think we have an obligation to extend a hand out to members of our community who are experiencing unprecedented ambiguity and scrutiny from the federal administration. Lansing is nothing if we don’t stick together and help everybody. Becoming a sanctuary city sends a echoing message to our friends and colleagues who are undocumented: we know your importance; we see your worth; and we’re willing to fight for your rights to be here; and now our executive branch of government is with us as well. I’m ecstatic about last night’s decision.

Do you support the resolution City Council passed Monday night?

Absolutely. City Council and Mr. Bernero showed that they’ve been listening to their constituents. I think this resolution will create more trust between our undocumented neighbors and our police force. That’s an absolutely invaluable bond to create.

But I also want to use this platform to give credit to the people that really passed this resolution. City Council voted this resolution through and Mr. Bernero signed the Executive Order, but without our community members that sacrificed their time and energy, this issue would have never been on the table. Groups like BAMN, BLM, Latinx Info Cluster, and countless other community members and groups that voiced their support for the resolution, and made it impossible for the Council to ignore. Each and every one of the people who took time to come to meetings, speak, and refuse to be ignored showed that Lansing’s politics belong to its people. And with the sanctuary city resolution passing, we’re much better off for it.

Will you encourage the next mayor to continue Mayor Bernero’s executive orders?

Wholeheartedly. Building trust between government and its citizens is not solved by a single act. Even with the executive orders, the administration controlling Washington has shown itself to be sporadic and impulsive at best. These undocumented neighbors of ours belong in Lansing, and our police force should be doing their own jobs, not ICE’s. I completely support the next Mayor continuing these practices in order to continue building trust with the community.


Justin DeBoer

Do you support Lansing being a sanctuary city? Why or why not?

I am happy to hear that Lansing city council voted in favor in declaring Lansing a sanctuary city. I would of voted yes as well. I support the sanctuary city status because Donald Trumps immigration policy is Tyrannical and ridiculous,children born from immigrants should not be seperated from their parents and be put in detention centers. It is inhumane.

We must be aware that Donald Trump said he will cut funding to sanctuary cities. We must act now to find a solution to replace funds before Lansing receive Federal Funding cuts.

I will propose, once elected, a 50 cent increase on cigerette sales tax, and also A $100 increase in Traffic fines such as Impaired driving, Wrecklass driving, DUI,also $200 increase in fines for super drunk convictions as a start to replace the funds that are being cut.

Do you support the resolution City Council passed Monday night?

Yes, i do support the resolution the city council passed last night, even though the resolution doesnt have a title, it is a great step forward in combating Donald trumps Immigration policy.

Will you encourage the next mayor to continue Mayor Bernero’s executive orders?

Yes!, i will encourage the new mayor to continue with Virg Bernero's executive orbers because it is the right thing to do, again, children should not be allowed to lose their parents over immigration issues. Also the lansing police have better, more productive things to do then to check peoples immigration status.


Christopher Jackson

Do you support Lansing being a sanctuary city? Why or why not?

Yes, I strongly support Lansing being a sanctuary city. We need to ensure that we are protecting all residents of our city, regardless of whether they are citizens, refugees, document immigrants, or undocumented immigrants. The individuals who will be protected by sanctuary status are our friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even family members. By ensuring that our city’s resources will not be used to target and disrupt the lives our residents, we bring about stability in our community and the lives of these individuals, leading to a stronger, more vibrant Lansing.

Do you support the resolution City Council passed Monday night? Why or why not?

I support the City Council’s resolution passed on Monday night, but I do not think we have gone far enough on this topic. While the Council resolution is promising, Mayor Bernero’s executive order supersedes it and can be rescinded by future administrations. I believe that the city’s ordinances should be modified to incorporate these protections.

Will you encourage the next mayor to continue Mayor Bernero's executive orders? Why or why not?

Until we can enshrine sanctuary protections in our city’s ordinances, I will encourage the next mayor to continue Mayor Bernero’s executive order. I will also encourage the next Mayor to codify these protections to prevent future administrations from discriminating against our residents and to prevent federal interference with our city’s public safety services. I hope to work with the next Mayor to insure that the rights of all Lansing residents are protected from federal overreach and discrimination by anyone.


Peter Spadafore

Do you support Lansing being a sanctuary city? Why or why not?

I think the issue is very important, which is why I think boiling it down to terminology is not productive. Some cities call themselves Sanctuary but it’s just words with no weight of law, while others have broad policies but do not identify as a sanctuary city which is why I’m pleased to see Mayor Bernero and the City Council take concrete steps to spell out exactly what the city will do to protect civil rights.

Do you support the resolution City Council passed Monday night? Why or why not?

Yes. If the resolution were passed alone without Mayor Bernero’s Executive Order, I believe it would create a false sense of security for individuals worried about the Trump administration’s desire to rollback civil rights. But because the resolution was passed along side Mayor Bernero’s order, I am confident knowing that both branches of Lansing’s government are committed civil rights. Last night the Mayor and City Council clarified what LPD and agents of the city won't do to assist the Trump administration in their quest to roll back civil rights–which, thankfully, I believe are also protected by Michigan law in the Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act.

If elected will you encourage the next mayor to continue Mayor Bernero’s executive order? Why or why not?

If elected I will encourage the Mayor to make sure our police department and city employees treat every resident with respect and do not discriminate or treat anyone differently based on any characteristics–including national origin or immigration status.


Guillermo Lopez

(Editor’s note: Lopez did a phone interview Tuesday with reporter Todd Heywood. He was requested, by email, to put his complete answers in writing so that there was no filter on his comments. He has not responded to those requests, so the responses you see below are based on Heywood’s interview with him.)

“We have been a sanctuary city for awhile by practice,” Lopez said. “I am glad the council affirmed that.”His happiness he said stemmed from the fact that such a move was “symbol.”“It has meant a lot for our community.”When asked if he would encourage the next mayor to continue Bernero’s executive order, Lopez confirmed he would. “By then we will know what the lay of the land is,” he said, referring to whether or not the declaration by the city and Bernero’s order caused federal officials to punish the city. “I would encourage the new mayor to continue that executive order.”

2nd Ward


Jim DeLine

(Editor’s note: Mr. DeLine sent the following statement based on a Facebook message containing the three questions all candidates were asked.)

In my interview on City Pulse's February 17 Newsmakers, I stated my support for Lansing being recognized as a Sanctuary City and proclaiming itself as such. That has not changed. The US has a history of offering oppressed people freedom. There is no reason for that to change in 2017. And, while the Mayor's executive order has operationalized many of the elements of a Sanctuary City, the fact that he avoids using the term is disappointing. If the administration in Washington attempts to impose financial penalties on Sanctuary Cities, his avoidance of the term isn't going to fool anyone. Lansing will certainly be included in those attempts at punishment. Should I be elected to serve on the Lansing City Council,not only would I urge the new Mayor to continue the elements of the executive order, but I would also encourage the new administration to use the resources of the Human Relations and Community Services Department to assist undocumented people in their endeavors to be granted citizenship and acquire the proper documentation necessary to remain in Lansing. If we are to be "Lansing Strong," we do not cower. We do what is right for our people who have chosen to live in this city.


Julee Rodocker

Do you support Lansing being a sanctuary city? Why or why not?

It's absolutely critical that we support and protect our vulnerable citizens. I am pleased that the Mayor's executive order put some specific protections in place for our undocumented citizens. I will support any future Mayor’s efforts that focus on protecting each and every person in Lansing.

Do you support the resolution City Council passed Monday night?

It's also important that we don't lose federal funding that would adversely impact our vulnerable citizens.

I have not seen the full wording or legal analysis of the council resolution to render an opinion. Even the city attorney appears to have concerns about the ordinance.

I am concerned that the resolution was passed without benefit of full legal analysis and relied solely on the opinion of one lay council member who has no legal expertise whatsoever. The timing and expediency of the resolution seem questionable. This issue is so critical that it needed a much more robust analysis, particularly in light of the concerns expressed by the city attorney.

If elected will you encourage the next mayor to continue Mayor Bernero’s executive order? Why or why not?

The executive order was likely enough. Why would we risk so much just for a name change? We need to be leaders and stand up for our values, but at the end of the day we can't let our kids, families or other individuals end up starving and being homeless at the expense of our progressive ideals that ultimately do more harm to the very undocumented citizens we want to protect.


Jeron Green

Do you support Lansing being a sanctuary city? Why or why not?

While I am still analyzing the events that took place at Monday’s city council meeting, I do support Lansing being designated a sanctuary city. However, I want assurance that the federal funding that supports our low-income community will not be impacted.

Do you support the resolution City Council passed Monday night?

Yes, I support the resolution in the sense that it reaffirms the executive order issued by Mayor Bernero on Monday night.

If elected will you encourage the next mayor to continue Mayor Bernero’s executive order? Why or why not?

Yes, I would urge the next mayor to continue the executive order issued by Mayor Bernero on Monday; as it continues to protect our vulnerable immigrant populous.