Sunday, September 27, 2020

Meet the EL residents running for a seat on City Council

July 29, 2020
Downtown East Lansing on July 17, 2020.
Downtown East Lansing on July 17, 2020. —
Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

East Lansing City Council opened up applications last week to fill two vacant seats following the resignation of then-Mayor Ruth Beier and Council Member Mark Meadows at the July 14 meeting. 

With applications closed as of Monday evening, community members are invited to weigh in and share feedback on potential questions in a listening session Wednesday at 7 p.m. At this meeting, council will select the candidates they would like to interview and finalize questions to be shared with the applicants prior to the public interviews.

Public interviews will be held Thursday at 5 p.m. and Friday at 9 a.m. and can be accessed online.

Meet the candidates who are eligible for the two vacant Council seats below:

Adam DeLay

DeLay works as a Department Analyst for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), serving as a liason between legislative offices, the Governor's office and MDHHS.

One thing he's noticed through his years in public service, he said, is that working with people and hearing their stories has shown there's a lot more work to do to create a truly equitable society.

In running for a seat on Council, DeLay said he will work to help East Lansing in their opportunity to bring about radical change in racial justice. Further, he plans to use his experience on the frontline in Gov. Whitmer's office and in working with constituents during the COVID-19 pandemic to assist the city in their continued efforts.

DeLay also served as an elected member of the Board of Trustees for Lansing Charter Township and as a member of the Lansing Public Safety Committee, Parks Committee and Election Commission.

Andrew Neumann

Senior Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Coordination Officer for the State of Michigan, Neumann works to coordinate FOIA requests and subpoenas for the Michigan Workers Disability Compensation Agency. 

After six years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq, Neumann returned to his hometown of East Lansing, stating he has and always will have a soft spot in his heart for the city.

The reason he chose to run for a spot on Council, he said, is to serve his community once again and to bring back a sense of honor and integrity to the city while continuing to promote open-mindedness and diversity.

Bezil Taylor

An MSU employee, Taylor works as a co-facilitator of the Racial and Social Justice Collaborative in the MSU School of Social Work to offer support in issues of racial and social justice. 

Taylor said his interest in serving East Lansing lies in his ethics as a trained social worker. His goal is to bring a unique and diverse voice to the council as an advocate for vulnerable populations. 

As an MSU staff member, he said he sees the need for more focus in local government for students to connect as members of the greater community. Moving forward, he hopes to further the progress started by council in holding people accountable for immoral behaviors. 

Chuck Grigsby

Grigsby works as a member on the East Lansing Human Rights Commission (HRC) and as an administrator at the Great Lakes Learning Academy. In his role at the HRC, Grigsby works to protect and promote human dignity and the rights of all. 

If appointed, Grigsby said he would be East Lansing’s first African American council member. He has been selected to serve on the interview panel to select the incoming police chief of East Lansing and has played an active role in public hearings on complaints involving East Lansing residents and businesses. 

With an interest in bringing community members together, Grigsby has helped increase the required diversity training at MSU. If selected for Council, he hopes to establish positive relationships between the community and the East Lansing Police Department.

 

Dana Watson

A health educator for the Ingham County Health Department, Watson serves on the COVID-19 Special Populations Team, reducing disparities within Ingham County for Black and Latinx communities by increasing access to COVID-19 testing and eliminating barriers to care. She works on efforts for awareness to educate the community about health problems.  Watson is also a member of the HRC and East Lansing Planning Commission. 

In her application, Watson said she advocates passionately for those who are underserved and underrepresented and plans to take her skills and experience to serve on City Council.

 

Daniel Bollman

Bollman works as the Principal in Commercial, Institutional and Residential Architectural services at East Arbor Architecture. He said his long-standing architectural career has provided him experience in public and private sectors, including large and small architectural firms, municipal government and residential developers.

Bollman works as Chair on the Planning Commission and has served East Lansing in the past on the Historic District Commission and numerous volunteer efforts.

With the city’s current budget outlining optimistic planning goals for East Lansing in prioritizing sustainability, transportation and community, Bollman said he hopes to engage in these local priorities addressing issues of climate change, connectivity and urban density.

He is not to be confused with Dan Bollman, Michigan State University Vice President for Strategic Infrastructure Planning and Facilities.

Donovan Golich

Golich was a social studies teacher for the Grosse Pointe Public School System from 2016-2018. He hopes to use his experience in the classroom, working for two prosecuting attorney’s and interning with a U.S. senator to help carefully craft public policies and to be mindful of disproportionately affected communities through policymaking.

As a City Council member, Golich said among other things, he will commit to listening and candidly advocating for the residents of the city. In doing so, he said he hopes to show residents that they are the reason he would serve on the Council.

 

Effie Alofoje-Carr

Alofoje-Carr works as a project specialist at the Ingham Intermediate School District, coordinating a leadership group with families who utilize voluntary home-visiting programs for maternal and child health.

Her interest in serving outlines a responsibility to create social change and help create the better world she has envisioned.

Alofoje-Carr recognizes that her voice can make a difference and that united with other powerful voices, they will elicit change and shape a community that residents will feel even better about living in.

 

Eric Pardini

Director of Public Sector Consultants — a non-partisan public policy research consulting firm based in Lansing — Pardini provides services in topics including health, education, economic development, energy and the environment. He also participates in East Lansing’s Emerging Leaders Program.

Pardini moved to East Lansing in 2013 to finish his degree at MSU. Since then, he has made it a home and hopes to create a more safe, equitable, diverse and health community for all residents.

With looming questions about the right path forward for the community and the role of leadership, Pardini said the recent shakeup of City Council is evidence that the city is ready for a new approach and he decided to take action.

 

Flemming Mathiasen

Mathiasen holds a certificate in management from the University of Western and a Master Gardener certification from the MSU Extension program and is now retired. He has served on several committees in East Lansing including the Officer Compensation Commission, Emerging Leaders, Police Citizen Academy and had a role as an East Lansing Election Officer.

With the city going through major times, Mathiasen said he applied for a seat on Council because it’s the people’s responsibility to step forward and be a part of the solution.

As a Council Member or an everyday resident, Mathiasen said he is ready to help or serve in any way possible.

 

Janeile Cannon

Cannon worked as a Senior Technician for the State of Michigan until 1996, composing and coordinating mass communications for clients, medical groups and government agencies. Since retiring, she has devoted her time to groups and organizations including the City of East Lansing Age Friendly Community task force, among many others. 

In running for Council, Cannon said her goal is to support the newer generations of Council members in this transformative stage toward acceptance over the suppression, prejudice and hatred faced by many for years. Affordable, adequate and sustainable houses for non-traditional families is essential and something she noted a particular interest in.

Cannon said she is pleased with the new direction Council is moving in police reform and hopes to further these efforts moving forward.

Jennifer Carrera

An Assistant Professor of Sociology and Environmental Science and Policy at MSU, Carrera specializes in environmental justice issues around water quality and access.

Carrera moved to East Lansing in 2014 when she began her work at MSU. In that role, she was invited to speak on the emerging Flint Water Crisis, where she saw colleagues move on after getting the recognition they sought. Carrera said she chose a different approach, making herself available to community members and over time, was invited by them to represent their community. In running for a seat on City Council, she said she would like the opportunity to earn the trust of her East Lansing neighbors as well.

During such unprecedented times, Carrera said she believes positive change for the nation will happen through the hard work of communities at the local level.

Jill Young

A medical consultant, Young works with doctors and other medical professionals to educate and audit them on their work with patients according to the rules and regulations of insurance carriers.

Young is certified in Evaluation & Management Coding (CEMC), Procedural Coding (CPC), Emergency Department Coding (CEDC) and Internal Medicine Coding (CIMC).

She said she saw Lisa Babcock’s comment in The State News article indicating that applications were being sought from people from all categories of racial, ethnic and religious groups but one category she did not see listed was the seniors who she feels are no longer represented on the Council. 

Being a part of this age group, Young believes she can provide unique considerations or viewpoints to issues and wants to represent this group of peers.

John Monberg

Monberg is an academic specialist in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures and a core faculty member of the Global Studies in the Arts and Humanities at MSU.

Growing up in a diverse rustbelt city when it was hit hardest by the loss of factory jobs, Monberg said he has a deep understanding of the difficult decisions communities are required to make to succeed in the new economy and wants to serve to make a difference at a critical time. 

With a doctorate in Science and Technology Studies from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and his research at MSU, Monberg said he has studied the kinds of technical, social and political spaces for the kind of community deliberation that can support equitable decision making across cultural differences of class, race and age.

John Revitte

Revitte worked as a Labor Studies professor at MSU from 1977 to 2013. He was appointed by the MSU Board of Trustees and served the Provost office for eight years as the Faculty Grievance Official. There, he specialized in dispute resolution to mediate and resolve faculty and academic staff’s human resource disputes with MSU administrators. 

Though he has proudly called East Lansing home since 1991, Revitte said he wants to make the city a more inviting and smartly governed university community that welcomes everyone.

As a city council candidate in 2019, Revitte said the city can do better regarding downtown development. Running this year, he still feels the same, proposing a temporary suspension on building more high-rise student housing until they are able to understand how much is really needed in Ingham County.

Joshua Ramirez-Roberts

Social Relations and Public Policy major at MSU, Ramirez-Roberts is a lifelong resident of East Lansing and said he has a deep connection to both the city and its residents. 

With a large percent of our population being students, and as a student himself, he believes it is important to see that represented on the City Council. 

He volunteered for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's Gubernatorial campaign in 2016 and with Steve Ross of Practical Political Consulting. Ramirez-Roberts said he also has an upcoming internship with Representative Alex Garza in the fall.

Nichole Biber

Library paraprofessional at Pinecrest Elementary School and a current board member of the Pinecrest Neighborhood Association, Biber works to provide a meaningful library experience for public school children, Kindergarten through fifth grade.

Biber has previously served her LTBB Odawa tribal government as a Board Member and Treasurer for the Traditional Tribal Burial Grounds, a social enterprise dedicated to providing a natural, green burial option to tribal members. 

She is interested in providing the East Lansing City Council with a clear and consistent voice that represents how the threat of climate change, recently declared a public health emergency in Ingham County, offers a template for positive leadership and inclusive action. 

Peter Dewan

Dewan is a commercial insurance agent that works with businesses, nonprofits and entities in multiple sectors on risk management issues through Lyman & Sheets Insurance Agency.

A graduate from MSU in Public Administration, Dewan said he has proudly called East Lansing his home for the last 38 years and has observed the city from a variety of perspectives. Dewan has been serving the city in a volunteer capacity for the last 25 years. He is currently in his tenth year on the Downtown Development Authoirty and Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, serving as Chairperson for the last five years.

He believes the citizens of East Lansing deserve stability and accountability from their local government and is committed to facilitating a solution that will preserve Valley Court Park, protect the adjacent Oakwood neighborhood and provide a public benefit to families and seniors in the community.

Rod Murphy

Retiring in 2018 after a long career in education, Murphy has served as an elementary teacher, a middle school teacher, a high school teacher, and a principal to St. Thomas Aquinas Parish School. 

Until the program was cut in November of 2019, Murphy served Attorney General Bill Schuette, followed by Attorney General Dana Nessel as a presenter in two outreach programs: OK2SAY, a violence-prevention program created for K-12 students; and Consumer Education, a suite of presentations on topics relating to consumer protections.

Murphy has training in the restorative justice model and said the city needs a calm, competent leadership which he is willing to provide that to the best of his ability.

Ron Bacon

Bacon promotes Genentech products and services into majors health systems throughout Michigan including Sparrow, Spectrum, MSU and the University of Michigan. He said he is an expert in the health insurance reimbursement and payment process. 

Graduated with a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice/Sociology from Saginaw Valley State University, Bacon said he has long been interested in serving the City of East Lansing in any capacity.  

Bacon said he has a diverse background in both the public and private sectors that make him uniquely qualified and prepared for public/private partnerships. He said he also has a keen sense of the socioeconomic, racial, and even the current healthcare/public health crisis that is gripping the community and nation.

Sarah Savage

Certified surgical technologist, Savage anticipates the surgical team's needs by handing the surgeon instruments, supplies, maintaining surgical fields and performing necessary counts. 

Savage is currently pursuing a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from Siena Heights University and believes that the community and its resources are the foundations of a healthy and flourishing city. 

She said she is a huge advocate for mental health wellness and wants to help be the voice for the community. Savage thinks she can offer a unique perspective on the council because of her job, her degree and as a parent of a kid growing up in the city.

Scott Sowulewski

Director of Employee and Labor Relations for Accident Fund Holdings, Inc., a subsidiary of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Sowulewski has more than 25 years of experience in the public sector and private sector.

He oversees the nationwide, day-to-day human resource function including his organizations' response to COVID-19.

Sowulewski said for him, this would be an opportunity to bring together a wealth of experience in human resources, community involvement and leading a broad-based public entity toward a new future-state, especially during this challenging and evolving pandemic.

Simon Zagata

As a staff attorney at Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service in Lansing, Zagata analyzes cases for transfer to the legal team and works on a variety of issues in both local and federal courts.

Zagata said he is interested in serving to bring a young, energetic voice to East Lansing City Council. As a new East Lansing resident and fairly recent Michigan State graduate, Zagata said he can bridge the gap between on-campus and off-campus students and permanent residents.

Furthermore, his public service will be focused on diversity, inclusion and changing East Lansing for the better. Zagata said as a member of the City Council, he would passionately advocate for the betterment of East Lansing on behalf of his constituents.

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