Oct. 15 2010 12:00 AM

Chamber of Commerce taking aim at Council members who opposed tax incentives

Thursday, Oct. 14 — The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce is already plotting how to unseat three City Council members who voted against tax breaks for developer Pat Gillespie’s Market Place and the Marshall Street Armory.

And one member of its political action committee board is already raising money for the cause.

A member of the chamber’s political action committee board, Josh Hovey, announced via Twitter today: “Anyone disgusted by the Lansing City Council's vote to kill jobs and econ development, I'm raising $$ to vote those members out. DM (direct message) me.”

Hovey said he has already been promised $850 from various donors for a chamber campaign to unseat First Ward Councilman Eric Hewitt and At-Large Councilwoman Carol Wood in 2011.

Wood, Hewitt and At-large member Derrick Quinney were three of the four votes that blocked Gillespie’s requests Mondays for brownfield tax incentives, 4-4. Their terms are up next year. The fourth was At-Large member Brian Jeffries, whose term is up in 2013.

Hovey, who works for the Kelly Rossman PR firm, is also Gillespie’s spokesman. He denied Gillespie put him up to the fund-raising efforts.

“The (chamber’s) PAC board is going to take a strong stance against the Council members,” Hovey said.

“Obviously it’s a result of the decision against Pat’s development,” Hovey said, before saying that he “did it on his own” and “didn’t ask” for permission from the chamber. He called Monday’s vote a “tipping point.”

Kristin Beltzer, who works on government relations and public affairs for the chamber, did not know about Hovey’s message, but she said it’s in line with the chamber’s attitude toward the Council.

“We are talking internally about a movement, some type of campaign,” Beltzer said. She added that the Chamber hopes to have an organized plan within a month.

Beltzer said she is “perplexed” by the Council’s “stifling jobs in this region.”

“I think their actions Monday night were a game-changer,” she said. “This will change the lay of the land of Council in 2011, which is a good thing.”

Two Lansing residents announced campaigns for Council Tuesday. Joe Manzella said he will take on Hewitt. Rory Neuner said she’ll run against Wood and Quinney for an at-large seat. Both were already considering running, but the votes Monday prompted them to make it official.