Tuesday, October 20, 2020

EL City Council releases applications to fill 2 open seats

July 22, 2020
<p>Newly elected Council Member Lisa Babcock during the East Lansing City Council meeting at the East Lansing city offices on Nov. 12, 2019.</p>

Newly elected Council Member Lisa Babcock during the East Lansing City Council meeting at the East Lansing city offices on Nov. 12, 2019.

Photo by Connor Desilets | The State News

The East Lansing City Council is currently seeking eligible applicants to fill two vacant seats on the City Council according to a statement released on Tuesday, following the resignation of Ruth Beier and Mark Meadows last week.

The applications to join the City Council were made available online Tuesday, and a printed application will be provided upon request at the East Lansing City Clerk’s office. The deadline for applications to be accepted online or in-person is 5 p.m. Monday, July 27. 

“This is a great chance for us to diversify the city council,” Council Member Lisa Babcock said. “We are interested in applications from people from all walks of life, all racial, ethnic, religious groups.”

According to the release, applicants must be a resident of East Lansing and registered to vote in East Lansing to be eligible for consideration. The applicants must also be available to participate in an online, televised public interview conducted by the City Council via Zoom.

“This is also a really great opportunity for people with physical disabilities,” Babcock said. “Running a campaign door to door is hard work but especially daunting for someone with a physical disability. The interview process removes that hurdle.” 

Accommodations required to participate in the online interview, such as internet access or an electronic device can be provided by the Assistant to the City Council Emily Gordon.

“Obviously, it’s a pretty unprecedented situation to have two vacancies,” newly appointed Mayor Pro Tem Jessy Gregg said. “It’s not a usual circumstance to have a position that is normally an elected position be appointed by relatively few people. I think the three of us do feel a high level of responsibility to appoint somebody that would be appropriate, somebody that represents East Lansing, somebody who would be a strong candidate if they were running in the traditional way.”

In efforts to make the appointment process for the new City Council members as public as possible — with several opportunities for East Lansing citizens to provide public input — citizens and potential applicants are advised of the following public meeting schedule:

At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 29, the council will hold a listening session to hear from citizens prior to the public interviews. Citizens will have an opportunity to weigh in on potential questions for the candidates and the council will then finalize the candidate interview questions.

Citizens may also share their feedback on potential interview questions prior to this public meeting via email or submitting their questions in person at the East Lansing City Clerk’s office.

Following the listening session, the first round of interviews is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 30, and, if need be, the second round of public interviews is set to take place at 9 a.m. the following day. There will be an opportunity for public comment after the interviews.

“I think that's the big question mark right now, is how many applications will we get back,” Gregg said. “If we get like 100, that's going to be very difficult for us to interview that many people ... and we might have to figure out a different process. But as of right now, anybody who is legally eligible to serve and sent in an application, our plan is to interview them.”

The council will deliberate and make a final decision on the council member appointments at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1, in a public meeting. All the meetings will be broadcast live on Channel 22 and online with closed captioning.

“Work ethic is important (for the candidates) and a vision for the city of East Lansing,” Babcock said. “It's always helpful if someone has a track record of serving on city boards or volunteering in the community. ”

With only three members currently serving in the City Council, Gregg said any votes to pass need to be unanimous according to the guidelines provided by the city charter. Therefore, all three members would need to agree on the two candidates that the council wants to appoint.

"My biggest regret is we're only going to be able to pick two because we have so many incredibly talented and committed people in this community," Babcock said.

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