MSU senior runs for Lansing City Council
Social relations and policy senior Michael Ruddock has knocked on hundreds of doors in Lansing during the past year. He has walked from house to house and has talked with hundreds of people with one goal in mind: give the voiceless a voice.
Ruddock found his passion in politics at a young age. He is taking this drive and heading toward the next level — running for a position on the Lansing City Council.
Ruddock said he would like to focus on environmental sustainability, poverty rates and bringing residents and developers together.
“One of the big lurking issues in Lansing is that we have a really high poverty rate,” Ruddock said. “Our campaign is about urging people to think bigger and to not necessarily adhere to the traditional moderate politics, but to think bigger and be bolder in what we do and that is our main focus.”
Ruddock currently interns at Sierra Club while balancing his run for the council. He said he was inspired to run after working on the Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) presidential campaign.
“I was from a very conservative area of west Michigan and my parents and myself were both very liberal, but it really, really kicked off this last election year,” he said.
Candidates get on the ballot by collecting 400 signatures from residents or paying a fee. Ruddock said he is officially on the ballot after collecting the required signatures from voters, focusing his campaign on a grassroots method instead of paying the fee.
He said he talked to more than 600 people in the Lansing area.
“There is nobody, I would stick my life on it, that at the end of the campaign will have talked to more individual people one-on-one than our campaign has,” Ruddock said. “I guarantee it.”
Despite his age, the 23 year old said he has not run into any problems yet, but he expects the learning curve and some roadblocks during the process of the race.
“Yeah, we are young ... but that gives us extra motivation to go out there and actually do our best to represent people,” Ruddock said.
Ruddock will graduate in May and said he hopes to continue in the race. The primary is Aug. 8 and the general election is Nov. 7.
“It has always been in the one-on-one conversation, listening and hearing people who, in other ways, have no outlet to voice their discontent,” Ruddock said. “To be able to listen to those people because so often they are silenced because they don’t have money to donate to a campaign or they don’t live in an area that historically votes high propensity in City Council elections.
“To be able to lend an ear and say that our main intention is to voice the concerns and form our campaign to help the most people in the City of Lansing, to be able to do that is super rewarding.”
Kelly Collison worked as a volunteer staffer for the Sanders campaign, which is where she met Ruddock. She said Ruddock knocked on the most doors throughout the Sanders campaign.
“He really cares about people and he is a very hard worker,” Collison said. “If you ever talk to him about the campaign, he never says ‘my campaign,’ he says ‘ours.’ It really is about the people’s voice.”
Campaign organizer for Clean Water Action Sean McBrearty said he hired Ruddock at Clean Water a few years ago.
Clean Water Action is a nonprofit on the national level hosted in about 23 states with approximately 200,000 members in Michigan. Ruddock was a canvasser for the nonprofit.
“Lansing is a progressive city and for some reason we have never had a really progressive city councilman,” McBrearty said. “Michael has a lot of great ideas and a lot of enthusiasm that I think is lacking in a lot of the candidates we have right now in City Council.”
McBrearty said environmental issues are a key issue for him because he said those are the issues of the future, and Ruddock shares McBrearty’s passion.
“If you look at some of the other people running for this seat, they are establishment all the way,” McBrearty said. “They play the political games and they get the big money behind their campaigns, but they don’t really stand for anything. Michael is someone who stands for something.”