Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Meet the 6 candidates running for East Lansing City Council

September 26, 2019
The East Lansing City Hall on July 3, 2018.
The East Lansing City Hall on July 3, 2018. —
Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

The Nov. 5 2019 East Lansing City Council election is approaching, and here's what voters need to know.

Students planning to vote in the election need to register by Oct. 21. After that, registration must happen in person at the East Lansing City Clerk's office.

Proposal 3, which passed in 2018, allows any registered voter to request an absent voter ballot without reason as well as same-day registration.

The clerk's office maintains an automatic applications list for voters to automatically receive an absent voter ballot application before each election in East Lansing.

Three seats on East Lansing City Council are up for grabs to six candidates, and The State News has held video interviews with each candidate.

Erik Altmann

Mayor Pro Tem Erik Altmann is seeking a second term, with environmental issues central to his platform. 

He said he wholeheartedly supported an ordinance passed March 2019 requiring electric vehicle charging stations at new developments and wants to put solar panels on all city buildings. 

Altmann said he supports the approval of new downtown developments including the Center City District. He also said he was a crucial player in the move to adopt a citywide income tax and avoiding a potential financial crisis.

Mayor Pro Tem Erik Altmann discusses his plans for the city if re-elected in part two of the city council candidate series.

Going forward, Altmann said he would like to attract a large corporate tenant to East Lansing to create jobs and retain talented Michigan State students post-graduation.

“If we had federal leadership on environmental issues, then we could relax. But we don’t have federal leadership on environmental issues, we don’t even have state leadership on environmental issues and so every municipality in the country has to step up,” Altmann said. 

Fun fact

Altmann started as an associate professor in MSU's psychology department in 2000. He became a full professor in 2013.

Lisa Babcock

Lawyer and former reporter Lisa Babcock launched her bid for city council with concerns about the transparency of the current council. Babcock said she is frustrated by how difficult it is to get information from the council.

Babcock also favors swift action on environmental issues. She said she would like to see solar panels being placed on city buildings and for building rooftops to be painted white to reduce heat buildup in the buildings.

This is the sixth and final part 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.

Babcock said she thinks the poverty rates for children and the elderly in East Lansing are far too high. If elected, she would work to restructure the budget to give assistance to this part of the demographic.

“You don’t need 53-year-old me telling you what you want,” Babcock said. Come to me, tell me what you want.” 

Fun fact

Babcock said she almost always carries voter registration papers with her in an effort to help as many people register as possible.

Jessy Gregg

Jessy Gregg, owner of Seams fabric store, said she offers a perspective that city council is in need of. 

She said that she doesn’t think the current city council is working against business downtown, but they’re working without a complete set of information.

Gregg said she would like to see Michigan State work more closely with the city council to address the needs of students. She would like to see infrastructure changes in the city that would allow for more travel by foot and bike for students going on and off campus. 

Jessy Gregg is currently serving on the Ingham County Parks Commission as well as the East Lansing Arts Commission and thinks she is ready to make the jump to city council. Produced by: Haley Sinclair

Gregg currently serves on the East Lansing Arts Commission and will prioritize art in East Lansing if she’s elected.

“There’s only so many long, four-hour long, city council meetings that you can sit through as a passive observer,” Gregg said. “I want to be on the other side of that table.”

Fun fact

Gregg founded the Warrior Goddess Training Academy and is an avid runner.

Mark Meadows

Mayor Mark Meadows has a long history in East Lansing. There is no one more responsible for the current construction of East Lansing than Mayor Meadows. After serving as mayor in the 90s and 2000s, Meadows left to serve as a state representative. He came back in 2015 and hit the ground running, approving a number of new developments around the city.

Meadows served on the first East Lansing Commission on the Environment and oversees a plan designed to eventually power East Lansing with 100% renewable energy.

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.

While Meadows played a huge role in developments like the Center City District coming to fruition in recent years, he wants to pump the brakes a bit going forward with city development. He said he’d like to see how the new complexes do and give it a little time before taking on more large projects.

“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.”

Fun fact

When Meadows began serving as the state representative for Michigan’s 69th district, he took over for current Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

John Revitte

John Revitte was a Michigan State labor studies professor for 36 years, which he said provides him with knowledge that will help him serve the student community if he is elected. 

One of his main concerns is about recent developments in downtown Lansing. Revitte said he is concerned about student housing being built downtown and is skeptical about the long-term outlook for the new complexes.

This is part four of the city council candidate series. With a Nov. 6 election approaching, this series is here to inform students of the candidates seeking to represent the local government just outside campus boundaries. Produced by: Haley Sinclair

Revitte stressed the importance of the council communicating with their constituents. He would also work to make sure that the council holds more public forums if he’s elected. 

“Is somebody going to end up with empty buildings, and is it going to be a disaster when we hit a recession?” Revitte said. 

Fun fact

Revitte has served on the East Lansing Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission and on the farmers’ market committee.

Warren Stanfield III

MSU political science-prelaw student Warren Stanfield is looking to represent the student population on the council.

Stanfield also stressed the importance of representing minority communities. He said his voice is needed because the current council and other candidates can’t understand the needs of disadvantaged communities in the way he can. 

Part one of the city council candidate series features political science and pre-law student Warren Stanfield III.

Stanfield said he’d like to see Michigan State work more closely with the city of East Lansing to help students in a tough place financially. He pointed to MSU’s high attrition rate as evidence that something needs to change.

“It’s just something that’s been in my blood. Service,” Stanfield said. 

Fun fact

If elected, Stanfield would be the third student ever to serve on the council.

Editors note: This article was updated to reflect that Erik Altmann has been in the MSU psychology department since 2000. A previous version of this story noted Altmann has been a psychology professor since 2013, which is when he became a full professor. He started as an assistant professor in 2000.

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