Friday, February 28, 2020

City council candidate series: Mark Meadows

September 12, 2019
Photo by Haley Sinclair | The State News

East Lansing Mayor Meadows is running for reelection to city council and spoke of his lengthy experience and accomplishments while stating his re-election case to East Lansing residents.

Three seats are up for grabs to six candidates and each are four-year terms. The candidates running are Mayor Pro Tem Erik Altmann, Mayor Mark Meadows, Lisa Babcock, Jessy Gregg, John L. Revitte and Warren Stanfield III.

This is part five of the city council candidate series. With a Nov. 5 election approaching, this series is here to inform students of the candidates seeking to represent the local government just outside campus boundaries.

Meadows speaks fondly of the people he’s worked with over the course of his lengthy career in politics. Between volunteering to work on campaigns in the 60s and 70s, his two stints on city council, 27 years working in the Attorney General’s office and time as a state representative, experience isn’t a concern for Meadows.

Mayor talks student engagement, discrimination, and environment

“Nobody here does things on their own,” Meadows said. “I’m happy that I’ve been able to be a part of a group of people who were visionary in improving the quality of life of everybody who lives in the city of East Lansing.”

Between volunteering to work on campaigns in the 60s and 70s, his two stints on city council, 27 years working in the Attorney General’s office and time as a state representative, experience isn’t a concern for Meadows.

Meadows forged a connection with Michigan State students during his time in office. In his first year as a council member, he helped create the University Student Commission.

During Meadows' first stint in office, city council would meet with ASMSU and other student groups quarterly on campus, however when Meadows returned in 2015, that was no longer a routine. He said he hopes students still know to reach out to him.

“I hope everybody knows that they can come and talk to me any time,” Meadows said. “They can call me if there’s an issue. I am interested in the student viewpoint on the things we do here.”

Meadows said he has been devoted to protecting against discrimination his entire career. East Lansing became the first city in the nation to protect the LGBTQ community under the Human Rights Ordinance in 1972. He has since spent his career defending this protection, despite threats from lawsuits like the current one from a wedding vendor, Country Mill Farms.

Meadows and city council refused them a license to vend at the farmers market due to the farm's refusal to use their facilities for same-sex marriages, which sparked a lawsuit. Meadows said he expects the case to reach the U.S. Supreme Court. He feels the community agrees with him that this fight is worth it.

“I think we are committed as a community to inclusion and protecting everybody from discrimination,” Meadows said.

Environmentally friendly legislation has always been a priority for Meadows. He was a member of the first East Lansing Commission on the Environment and has spent his time in government working to protect the planet.

Meadows also oversees a plan that is designed to eventually power East Lansing with 100% renewable energy.

While Meadows will always be known to the masses for his political accomplishments, his actions as a father mean as much to him as anything. He thinks back to raising his kids when discussing the achievements he’s most proud of.

“I also was a soccer coach for 12 years and a softball coach for my kids.”

Much of the downtown development that has taken place in recent years was approved by Meadows. While he’s happy with the direction development is going, he wants to take a break from big projects for a while to see what happens with the projects that are still finishing. 

Meadows said one of the reasons he’s in favor of the high-rise apartments we’ve seen recently is the ground space they save. 

“I’d rather see us build up and build density down here than build out and take out green space,” Meadows said.

Editors note: This story was updated to reflect the election date as Nov. 5 2019.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated Country Mill Farms declined to serve same-sex couples at the East Lansing Farmer's Market. It has been changed to reflect that they declined to allow same-sex couples to use their farm for weddings.

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