Wednesday, August 5, 2020

EL City Council discusses applications for new council members, appoints new mayor pro tem

July 21, 2020
<p>Council member Aaron Stephens at the July 16 East Lansing City Council meeting.</p><p></p>

Council member Aaron Stephens at the July 16 East Lansing City Council meeting.

Photo by Junyao Li | The State News

East Lansing City Council appointed Jessy Gregg as the new mayor pro tem and approved a timeline for appointing two new council members Monday following the resignation of Ruth Beier and Mark Meadows last Tuesday. 

Among other council members, Gregg said she is excited about the unique opportunity to fill two vacant seats with individuals who may be too intimidated to launch a campaign during a regular election.

“I’m looking forward to moving forward,” Gregg said.

To do this, the council outlined the timeline for appointing new members beginning with an application to be posted July 21 and due by 5 p.m. July 27. The following Wednesday, July 29, the council will hold a listening session where the public will be able to weigh in and propose questions for the candidate interviews. 

The questions will be made available to the candidates after the session so that they will have time to prepare answers before their interview.

Interviews will be held next Thursday and Friday as needed, at about 25 minutes per person, with about four hours allotted each day. That Saturday, council will begin their selection process and come to a decision on whom the two new council members will be. 

“My thought process, when I was thinking about how we were going to go about doing this, was making this process as public as possible with as much opportunity for input as possible,” Mayor Aaron Stephens said.

Ideally, Gregg said they would be able to meet as a full council of five by their Aug. 11 meeting. According to the city charter, three council members are necessary to establish quorum — the minimum number of members needed to act on any matters. With only three members currently on council, one member being absent makes them unable to move forward on any agenda. 

Stephens said he would like to work with the Michigan Municipal League on training for the new council members. He said he would also like to speak with former council members to gain insight on the things they wish they had known coming in to make the transition easier. 

With important issues remaining in the city amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Stephens said he, the city manager, Gregg and other city staff sat in a call Wednesday morning with MSU administrators, local businesses and the county health department discussing fall move in and steps being taken to mitigate risks.

“I did not run for the position that I am in currently, but I will serve and I will serve effectively,” Stephens said. “We have huge issues to tackle coming up with students headed back while COVID-19 continues to present challenges in East Lansing and our need to support our businesses during that process and the community during that process. Every day in this country we see examples of racial inequities across the country, and this council will have to address this within our own community. And I’m ready to continue working with staff that have presented really great ideas and the activists in our community to continue pushing change forward.”

Editor’s note: This article was updated to reflect the correct date for when applications are due.


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