Thursday, August 13, 2020

Debate night: City council candidates discuss marijauna, land sales

October 15, 2019
Warren Stanfield III speaks during ASMSU’s East Lansing City Council candidate debate on Oct. 14, 2019 at the International Center.
Warren Stanfield III speaks during ASMSU’s East Lansing City Council candidate debate on Oct. 14, 2019 at the International Center. —
Photo by Sylvia Jarrus | The State News

Six candidates are competing for three spots on the East Lansing City Council in the Nov. 5 election. Incumbents Erik Altmann and Mark Meadows are joined by newcomers Lisa Babcock, Jessy Gregg, John Revitte and Warren Stanfield III.

ASMSU hosted a debate for candidates at the International Center Oct. 14. Some questions received an answer from each candidate and others were individual questions. Candidates had two rebuttal opportunities to respond to opponents' answers.

The State News interviewed each candidate on video, where they presented their platform. The debate presented insight on new areas that haven't received as much attention.

Newcomers want answers about the eBay land sale

Candidates are split on the city's move to sell its property for a dispensary project on eBay.

"I think that was pretty slick the way they went about that. I despise that kind of behavior and I really don't think it belongs in politics," Stanfield said.

Candidate Lisa Babcock said she'd like to know who was on the list of bidders who were tipped off.

Babcock went on to say the city should have made more of an effort to let people know the land was for sale.

"They could have mentioned it at planning commission, they could have mentioned it at city council meetings, they could have put posters up all over the city, they could have emailed us, they could have told us in dialogue," Babcock said.

Meadows said he agreed the city could have done more to let more people know about the auction.

He said the property had been on sale for 17 years and the $1 million the city received for the land was good for the city.

"I think every council member was a little disappointed in (the way the sale wasn't more publicized), but I can't argue with the result," Meadows said.

Meadows also said the planning department handled the auction, denying his tie to the action.

"I didn't have anything to do with how the auction was conducted," Meadows said.

Babcock said she'd like to know more about the auction, including how much similar land costs and why the city decided to sell the land this way.

"I know that it's not normal," Babcock said. "I know that no government I've ever covered has sold land in this way."

Candidates share thoughts on how to regulate marijuana

With marijuana legalized in last year's election, the city is working to figure out how to regulate usage and sales in the city.

Candidates agreed the city needs to take a slow approach when introducing dispensaries to the city.

"Everyone wants to dig in on the new very lucrative thing and then (the industry) bottoms out as the market figures out what's happening," Gregg said.

Meadows and Altmann both said marijuana should have never been made illegal and expressed sympathy for people incarcerated for marijuana-related charges.

"I look forward to the day when marijuana is completely culturally and legally normalized," Altmann said.

Stanfield said he thinks people should be allowed to smoke outside and said he's concerned about how landlords will enforce laws prohibiting smoking inside, as it causes smoke damage.

Gregg said she'd like to see marijuana controlled like other mind-altering substances such as cigarettes and alcohol.

Revitte said he supports the legalization of marijuana, but is concerned about some of the secondary consequences accompanying it.

"We need to learn what is it gonna be like when people are looking at their cell phones and they're high and they're drunk and there's scooters in the street," Revitte said.

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