What a difference four years makes in the land of Lansing city politics. With three months until the April 23 candidate filing deadline, the scuttlebutt on potential challengers for the four City Council seats seems restricted to political unknowns or prior unsuccessful candidates.
Top-tier candidates with a strong base of support or the ability to raise the needed money to make a credible run aren’t there at this point.
Either the Lansing City Council members are doing better at getting along or they’re doing a really good job of faking it. The days of failing to be able to come to a consensus on a Council president are in the rearview mirror. It’s probably good for the city, but it doesn’t make for the best headlines.
Lansing Mayor Andy Schor isn’t trying to build a political machine like his predecessor, Virg Bernero.
Also unlike Bernero, Schor is not obsessed with beating Council President Carol Wood with some hand-picked candidate. In fact, Schor has gotten along with basically everyone running for re-election and intends to stay neutral on the races, at this point.
And, yes, Wood is running for reelection, by the way. She said she put it on Facebook that she’s running and, yet, she’s still hearing the following rumor: That she’s so happy in her new job as executive director of the Lansing Retired, Seniors and Veterans Program that she’s not going to run again. Instead, 3rd Ward Councilmn Adam Hussain would allegedly take Wood’s spot on the ballot as an at-large candidate and Elaine Wolmboldt of Rejuvenating South Lansing would run in the 3rd Ward.
“I don’t know where this keeps coming from,” Wood said.
“Can we put a stake in this rumor as not true?” she was asked.
“Put a stake in it,” she responded.
So there’s no mayor stoking the fires of a split 4-4 Council these days. The Lansing chamber and the labor groups are seeing a much more functional city government and are less motivated in getting involved in finding replacements for the four incumbents, all of whom appear to be running again.
At-Large Councilmember Patricia Spitzley and 1st Ward Councilmember Jody Washington both appear to be running for reelection without a perceived top-tier opponent, at this point.
Washington would seem to be the biggest target due to her vocal opposition to marijuana facilities, but this position isn’t new and she’s won twice in the 1st Ward.
Mike Ruddock, who came within 197 votes from advancing to the general election for an at-large seat in 2017, had talked about coming back for a run against Washington in 1st Ward, but that has since cooled.
Former City Council candidate Kyle Bowman, the commander of the state’s security operations with the Michigan State Police, has been mentioned, but hasn’t made any serious efforts in that direction.
Kelly Collison, the Michigan Democratic Party’s progressive caucus chairwoman, took a look at a run against Washington, but has since opted out. Collison, who finished second in the 68th House District race last year, is concentrating her efforts on organizing local enthusiasm for a Bernie Sanders presidential run.
Her former campaign manager, Brandon Betz, a senior policy analyst at the Anderson Economic Group, is a possibility in the 1st Ward.
Scott Hughes, the juvenile justice and community outreach coordinator at the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office is the furthest along with a potential challenge. He’s taken to Facebook with a slogan, “Progressive — For a Change,” but whether the political consultant for former mayoral candidate Judi Brown Clarke can raise the needed support is still an unknown.
The biggest challenge could come in the 3rd Ward, where the hardworking Hussain could get a challenge from former County Commissioner Dale Copedge, who left office in 2012 to make a state House run.
Speaking of former House candidates, Farhan Sheikh-Omar, a 24-year-old Kenyan refugee, may be making a bid for a Council position. He’s the only person who has asked for petitions with the Lansing Clerk’s Office. He received 589 votes last year in the 68th House District.
In the at-large races, other candidates who have been mentioned include Lansing Medical Marijuana Commission member Jason Peek and Yanice Jackson, who finished sixth in 2017 out of 12 at-large candidates.
Former City Council member Tina Houghton may be returning as an at-large candidate, after losing her seat in the 2nd Ward in 2017. And, Julee Rodocker, who also didn’t win in the 2nd Ward in 2017, is also being mentioned.
(Melinn of the Capitol news service MIRS is at email@example.com.)