Political Science junior Aaron Stephens running for E.L. City Council
Political science junior Aaron Stephens announced via press release Friday he is running for East Lansing City Council.
“I’ve lived here for three years now, this community has welcomed me and given me so many opportunities to be involved and I just want to be part of our continuing efforts to make this a welcoming, prosperous and progressive city," Stephens said. "I knew from the instant I stepped foot in this city, I was where I was going to be here even after I graduated."
East Lansing City Clerk Marie Wicks said Stephens has not taken out a nominating petition for the November 2017 election though Scott Hirko and two current councilmembers, Ruth Beier and Susan Woods have taken out a nominating petition.
A nominating petition requires potential candidates to receive 50 signatures from registered East Lansing voters in order to have their name placed on the ballot. The petition has to be returned by July 25 at 4 p.m.
Stephens said he believes he will bring a student perspective to the council if he is elected.
"I am a student and I can provide that student perspective and I think that it is important," Stephens said. "I think that the relationship between permanent residents and students, there is definitely divide between the city and university, and I hope to try to bridge that gap a little bit."
However, Stephens said he also thinks it is important to represent the whole community.
"Even though I am a student, that still means I am representing every single member of this community as well, every single permanent resident," Stephens said. "Their voice is going to be quintessential to my campaign. I’m not just going to be doing it from the student perspective, you have to listen to every single angle."
Balancing being a full-time student with his campaign might be difficult, Stephens said.
"I’m not going to sugarcoat it, it’s definitely going to be a difficult time being a full-time student and running for office," Stephens said. "It’s going to be difficult, but I believe that it is the most important thing that we can do."
Stephens said he believes community engagement is important and it is also important to capitalize on the movements happening since the 2016 presidential election.
"We need to make sure that when we can make change, we are making change," Stephens said. "There’s never going to be a perfect time. There’s never going to be a perfect time to run. There’s never going to be a perfect time to get involved, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get involved. It’s going to be hard, but I think that it’s worth it and I think that the change we can bring to this city and the progress that we can make is going to continue to drive me. That’s how I’m going to do it."
During the 2016 campaign season, Stephens was president of Students for Sanders, volunteered with the Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) presidential campaign as an organizer and was hired by the Hillary Clinton campaign after Sanders dropped out of the 2016 election.