Shanna Draheim, a Southern California native, fell in love with East Lansing during her undergrad years at MSU. After bringing her family to live in and be part of the community 11 years ago, Draheim has decided to run for East Lansing City Council.
Draheim has a background in community and environmental sustainability and said she is ready to help propel “what is already a really attractive community” forward to become one of the great university towns. Part of her plan to is to invest in education and engage MSU students.
“I’d like to see what the city could do to host groups of faculty and have students be a stronger part of the conversation around the future of East Lansing,” Draheim said. “Where students want to live, (and) what would it take to keep them living here after graduation are things I would like to get input from students on.”
Draheim, who has a bachelor’s degree in public policy from MSU and a master’s degree in environmental policy from Indiana University Bloomington, would also like to partner with the city’s East Lansing school district to ensure there are great learning spaces at the K-12 level.
“People come here because of our schools and we need to maintain and enhance that. It’s important that the city partners with the school district,” Draheim said.
Draheim is currently a board member for Michigan Energy Options and was the commissioner of East Lansing Environmental Commission from 2005-12. She helped develop a sustainability plan as part of the commission. Draheim also worked for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality as a Great Lakes restoration specialist and as an environmental protection specialist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Draheim said she would like to use this background to build a more sustainable East Lansing while saving money.
“If the city were to invest in energy efficiency at our facilities, if we helped curb sprawl, there are cost savings that would be really important for the shrinking budgets,” Draheim said.
Draheim said she believes money saved through sustainable efforts could be reinvested in future sustainability efforts. She said she would also like to address the aging infrastructure in the city, focusing not only on roads, sewers and water, but also public spaces and parks. She said she would like to hear community input on these issues.
Draheim’s plan includes touring the neighborhoods of East Lansing to hear what issues residents want addressed. She also said when it comes to problems that need to be addressed, money is not always the fix.
“I keep talking in terms of really needing to invest in East Lansing’s future and so sometimes that’s dollar investments, but lots of times that’s investing our energy,” Draheim said.
The election will take place in November with three council seats up for vote.
“I am really optimistic about the city of East Lansing. I think sometimes people run for offices because they are frustrated or disappointed,” Draheim said. “I really am enthused about the possibility of being on City Council because I think this is a great city and there’s just so much more opportunity to come.”