Friday, October 15, 2021

East Lansing City Council Candidates: Chuck Grigsby

October 7, 2021
<p>East Lansing City Council Candidate Chuck Grigsby.</p>

East Lansing City Council Candidate Chuck Grigsby.

Photo by Chloe Trofatter | The State News

Chuck Grigsby has been many things in his life: nonprofit founder, commission chairperson and professional athlete. Now, he looks to add East Lansing City Council member to that list.

Background

Grigsby is from Kansas City, Missouri, but mostly grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, where he went to college. After graduating, Grigsby played professional basketball, but after a car accident, he switched to professional fighting.

“Along the way, I had worked for the Department of Justice and Attorney General's office and did some other things, and that was really my first taste of state government,” Grigsby said. “But, my first passion and love was always working with the community, particularly young people.”

After moving to East Lansing and retiring from professional sports, Grigsby founded a nonprofit called Primetime Mentoring and Tutoring Educational Services, which recruited volunteers from MSU to volunteer in classrooms at the university.

During this time, Grigsby was approached by a member of the East Lansing community about East Lansing’s Emerging Leaders Program, a year-long course in civic engagement. Grigsby said that the program was a great way for him to network and build connections as a relatively new East Lansing resident.

“I’ve been here for five years, but I’ve come back and forth from East Lansing for 20 years because my wife was from here,” he said. “Once I got into that program, I really got a great feel and sense and baseline of municipalities and government and work.”

After graduating from the program, Grigsby was asked to serve on the Human Rights Commission, and other ad hoc commissions during the same period of time.

Additionally, he served on the Study Committee on an Independent Police Oversight Commission, a commission formed to study and make recommendations on the possible establishment of an Independent Police Oversight Board in East Lansing. The city council voted to establish this board in summer 2021. Grigsby chaired both the Human Rights Commission and the Study Committee.

Grigsby said that his work on the Study Committee was challenging and intense, but that it also served as an excellent opportunity.

“It really allowed me to spread my wings and work on a macro-level on issues that were troublesome for a lot of people here in the City of East Lansing,” Grigsby said.

He said the Committee conducted two-to-three hour meetings twice a month, and that members represented a variety of backgrounds and roles in the community.

“That experience really allowed me to sit back and learn from them, number one, but also be able to find out how we have all these different approaches and why we’re approaching these issues, and how to come to a solution,” he said.

Grigsby said that he would like to bring stability and leadership to the council.

“We've had several council people step down for various reasons," Grigsby said. "We've had a lot of instability within some of our leadership with getting rid of a city attorney in the middle of all that."

Grigsby looks to rectify this. He said that he has a tremendous amount of experience working with multiple iterations of city council, and with the city manager’s office. He referenced working with the city manager and his staff on the amendment to the city’s disorderly conduct ordinance, and on creating and bringing resolutions to the council like the resolution declaring racism a public health crisis.

“Anyone that has worked with me, I'm pretty confident they'll tell you that I come ready to work, I come prepared," Grigsby said. "I really want to come to a solution that really is reflective of our community."

Main Issues

Grigsby has a wide scope of issues that he would like to address as a city council member. 

“We got some monumental things we got to be facing," Grigsby said. "We have some very specific legacy costs, budget costs and expenses that we need to address."

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Grigsby said that the goal is to come up with creative ways to address such costs. He also said that the city needs to provide better opportunities for small business owners.

“Talking with some business owners and talking with people, it's very challenging to come here and start a small business and have ... support in a way that you're going to be around a while, especially after coming out of the pandemic,” he continued, “So, we need to be able to find ways to be able to ease the pressure on just relying upon the income tax and have some more revenue coming up.”

Grigsby said that East Lansing has gotten smaller, and that he suspects this is because being able to live and work in the city is not as affordable as it could be. He said, for example, that property taxes have been raised in recent years, and water bills have been going up.

Grigsby said he thinks his concern for these issues is the reason he is endorsed by the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Lansing Association of Realtors.

“They do understand the things that I’m talking about are important,” he said.

Grigsby also hopes to build a better relationship with MSU, and he said that the community felt that this was important while going door-to-door for his campaign. Grigsby also wants to promote greater government transparency, part of which includes greater representation for community members. 

“There's a lot of people that I have talked with that don't really understand the vision, they don't understand the strategic plan, they're not feeling like they're involved, they would like to see their voice be heard in a more consistent and constructive way,” Grigsby said. “I think transparency is very representative of that.”

Grigsby mentioned policing that does not infringe upon the needs of citizens as one of his goals.

He also said that there are many issues that are very important that are “in-between” the bigger concerns, like a high deer population that is becoming bothersome to some residents, or flooding from the recent rainfalls.

“We really want to make sure our sewer and water and pipelines are up to date in a way where when we start getting the severe weather with the climate changes that we're having ... that people are not ruined because of the natural weather conditions,” Grigsby said.

Grigsby said that he chose the four-year term he is running for because of the instability he has seen in city council over the past year, and because he believes there is much work to be done on complicated issues that will take time.

“Before I was really involved with some of these amendments of ordinances and additional resolutions in the city, I kidded around with a lot of people and said, ‘I'm Chuck Grigsby, I’m just a busybody in our community, and that's why I'm here today.'”

The full candidate listing can be found on the City of East Lansing website.


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