John Revitte is launching his bid for city council after working as a professor at Michigan State University for 36 years and serving seven years on the East Lansing Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission and two years on the farmers’ market committee.
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 four 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.
Revitte places development at the forefront
Revitte considered running for city council in 2017, but when all incumbents ran for reelection, he opted out. Now, with Shanna Draheim not seeking another term, Revitte is looking to serve the people of East Lansing.
“When all three of the incumbents did not decide to run again, I said, ‘Well maybe I can volunteer now because I believe in service,’” Revitte said.
Revitte says his experience at MSU and his time as a college student has made him aware of issues facing students. Revitte taught everything from freshmen to graduate students.
“I think I have a good sense of student interests of all kinds,” Revitte said.
Revitte thinks the city council needs to clarify their vision for the future of downtown East Lansing more precisely. He said he supported the income tax passed by the city council earlier this year.
He said after a previous failed attempt, city-held forums played a big part in gaining public support. Revitte said he would like to see similar forums become routine.
“I was among those who really encouraged city council and the city staff,” Revitte said. “You ought to go back to citizens, I think you just didn’t explain it well enough.”
One of Revitte’s primary concerns is the development happening in downtown East Lansing. While he stopped short of saying the development was bad, he said the city needs to look at comparable college towns and see what has and hasn’t worked for them.
Revitte said Northwestern is a poor example to compare to Michigan State because Chicago is a much larger city surrounding the university than East Lansing.
He said while new apartment buildings like The Hub are currently operating at near maximum occupancy, he isn't sure East Lansing and MSU can maintain that.
“While currently it’s 95% occupied, in five years it’s going to be 55% occupied,” Revitte said.
Revitte went on to say that he and some East Lansing residents have concerns about the necessity of all the new student housing.
He voiced concerns about all the new high-rise apartments being built near campus. Revitte said he questions the need for student housing, along with parking and traffic issues.
Running with the futures of long-term residents in mind, Revitte said he is looking at implications down the road if the economy hits a snare.
“Is somebody going to end up with empty buildings and is it going to be a disaster when we hit a recession?” Revitte said.
Editors note: This story was updated to reflect the election date as Nov. 5 2019