Oct. 5 2015 06:39 AM

Dievendorf answers City Pulse general election questions

For the general election, City Pulse asked all the candidates to answer a series of general questions. In Ward races, candidates were asked to answer Ward specific questions and concerns. Here are the responses from Emily Dievendorf, candidate for one of the two At-Large seats:

Public safety:

1. Lansing is in the midst of a "surge" or "epidemic" of heroin related overdoses and deaths. How should the city address the increase in heroin use in the city?

The city can work to ensure that regional coordination between health providers and programs, law enforcement, community organizations and caseworkers is supported and refined so that those struggling with addiction are identified more quickly and experience decreased delays in referrals to and response from professionals.

2. Chief Yankowski, with support from the Mayor and the Prosecutor, has announced an immunity of sorts for heroin addicts seeking treatment. Do you support this? Why or why not?

I support the immunity proposal that the Chief, Mayor and Prosecutor agree on because addiction isn’t an issue that is resolved through punishment. Helping those struggling with heroin addiction requires a holistic approach that takes environmental factors, access to help, and the importance of a working system into consideration. Addiction is much bigger than the mere decision to use.

3. If elected to council what will you do to address the burgeoning heroin crisis?

I will work with community leaders, the mayor, our prosecutor and addiction recovery specialists to build an immunity program that includes a detailed procedure for working with those struggling with heroin addiction through identification, treatment, and continued care so that all with an influence on recovery have a clear understanding and expectations for their role in the solution.

4. Ingham County has one of the highest HIV rates in Michigan, however, despite the surge in heroin overdoses, there is no needle exchange program. Does Lansing need a needle exchange program and if elected are you willing to revisit paraphernalia laws in order to prevent those providing clean needles from being charged with a crime? Why or

We do need to revisit paraphernalia laws and institute a needle exchange program in Lansing. Ingham County has one of the highest numbers in the state of HIV positive individuals. Most studies of needle exchange program clients demonstrate decreased rates of HIV drug risk behavior and needle exchange programs are relatively inexpensive. Exchange programs have also had some success in increasing referrals to drug treatment services.


1. Over 30 percent of Lansing's housing stock are rentals. Is this too much, too little or just the right mix of rental properties? Why?

Not everybody can afford to own a home and it isn’t necessarily the right time for everybody in Lansing to put down permanent roots. We are a city in near proximity to more than one institution of higher learning and where cost of living is more affordable than in many other communities for young and low-income families. Many rentals is a necessity for Lansing to remain a good host to all residents so we need to ensure that the rental housing the city offers is safe and well-maintained.

2. Landlords continue to report significant lag times between paying for and obtaining inspections on rental properties. How should Council address this problem?

We need to hire more inspectors while requiring an oversight of the inspection process that ensures that good landlords are being recognized and not micromanaged and deadbeat landlords are held accountable.

3. Landlord's are currently allowed to send a letter to code compliance acknowledging having fixed identified violations. Do you support this action? Why or why not?

A letter from just the landlord should not be allowed, but while there is a shortage of inspectors the city’s current practice of allowing a letter from a landlord that includes documentation signed by electricians and other trades professionals that addresses the current status of a violation listed in the received citation should be allowed.


1. Lansing roads are in significant disrepair. The state is unlikely to increase revenue sharing -- which has been declining for a decade. How you propose fixing Lansing's roads?

Funding for repairs on major trunk lines comes from a different sources than repairs for local neighborhood streets. While the city has control over plans surrounding local streets we are limited by the city’s financial constraints. This necessitates a continued search for funding that can be directed at better quality and longer lasting road repairs while we commit to repairing roads in our neighborhoods in a timely manner using more frugal but shorter term repair methods - much like those solutions employed by Ingham County.

Social issues:

1. Do you support marijuana legalization?

I am supportive of medical marijuana and would support the legalization of marijuana for recreational use if I were comfortable with proposed regulations to monitor the distribution, quality of product, and restrictions for use. Such measures are necessary to ensure the health and safety of the community and the individual. Raising revenue off of taxing sales is only a benefit if we do everything possible to ensure responsible consumption and distribution - which are issues we can figure out by doing thorough evaluations of the successes and complications facing other cities and states that have already legalized marijuana.

2. Lansing has a comprehensive human rights ordinance. Is that law working, or is it broken? If it is working, please explain why you believe that. If you believe it is broken please explain how and how you would fix the problem.

I’m proud of the Lansing human rights ordinance as it serves to protect and treat all Lansing residents fairly and makes Lansing a more attractive place for families, businesses and workers to put down roots. When people are familiar with the ordinance as an available tool it has proven successful but our challenge is that most people still don’t know we have a policy that can be used or they struggle to understand that there is such a need for it. Public education surrounding the potential for discrimination in our community and the existence of this resource needs to continue and be more visible.

3. Do you support a woman's right to choose?

Yes. I am a strong supporter of women’s rights and have been endorsed by pro-choice MI List, Planned Parenthood, and the Michigan chapter of the National Organization of Women.

General questions:

1 Name the three largest issues facing the city (for at large candidates) or the ward.

-Economic Development: Lansing, like many cities in Michigan, is charged with turning a manufacturing center into a hub for industry that can draw on the current skills and talents of our residents while building those skills to allow an evolution toward cutting edge industries. We have to nurture and seize upon opportunities for collaboration with local universities as well as invest in the safety, stability, and personal priorities of our workers and their families - while also ensuring that local businesses and larger corporations have economic incentives that encourage them to build and to thrive.

-Public Safety: The success of our businesses, neighborhoods, and the stability of our residents all depend on public safety. For public safety to increase we cannot merely invest in beefing up the city’s law enforcement budget. We must also work to build the trust between our city’s public servants and the citizens that depend on them. A complementary relationship is the only relationship that can keep us safe, secure, and growing.

-Neighborhood Revitalization: The strength of our neighborhoods relies on the continuous development of cooperative ventures between the business sector and the average citizen. When businesses show an investment and dedication to the success of a neighborhood, citizens respond in kind with loyalty and intentional efforts to improve the surrounding residential areas to match.

2. What are the three most significant things that have happened in the city or Ward in the past four years?

  1. Emergence from years of financial strain brought on by the housing collapse and great recession. Revenue is increasing and the city is currently operating without an annual deficit.

  2. The Michigan Avenue Corridor project will change the face of Lansing’s east side and represents significant investment outside of downtown.

  3. Resurgence in block-by-block neighborhood connections and citizen driven initiatives. People are powerful when they are connected with a purpose.

3. What are the qualities of your opponent you most admire?

Harold - Tenacity

Carol - Accessibility

Pat - Adaptability