East Lansing City Council candidate Mikey Manuel has been waiting for an opportunity like this for a long time.
“My whole life I’ve been interested in politics, and when there was three seats opened for this upcoming election, I really just saw that as an opportunity,” Manuel said.
He said that the two-year term that he is seeking would give the people of East Lansing a chance to know him and that he may run for a full term in the future.
Manuel grew up in the East Lansing area. When he was around 14 years old, his family opened a restaurant called Blondie’s Barn, about 10 minutes away from East Lansing.
“It’s been an important part of my life, an important part of my growing up around here and keeping in touch with other small businesses in the area,” Manuel said.
Manuel said that some of his background in serving the public stems from work at Blondie’s Barn — he said the restaurant gives out free meals to hospitals and public service workers, and on Thanksgiving, Blondie’s Barn gives out a couple hundred free meals to Lansing-area residents.
Manuel studied political science and psychology at Central Michigan University. After graduating, he interned with the Michigan Democratic Party and has lived in East Lansing since.
If elected, Manuel plans to be a platform for small businesses. He also said that he is in support of a completely open-door policy in terms of government transparency.
“It’s important that everybody in East Lansing has a platform to be able to talk, especially right now, East Lansing’s in a real interesting spot,” he said. "We can’t grow out, so we’re gonna start building up, and a lot of our residents have opinions on that, and I want to be totally a part of making sure everybody gets heard.”
Manuel said that he is in favor of police reform, but that he is against reducing the budget of the police department.
“I know some people on city council right now and running for it want to talk about defunding the police — I couldn’t be any less interested in that,” he said.
Manuel explained that he is in favor of "an appropriate amount of government oversight" that maintains a balanced city budget, and that money should be given out fairly. He doesn’t want to see the defunding of any department based on the popularity of doing so.
“I wouldn’t be for defunding the police, just because it seems to be a trending issue all across the country,” he said.
Manuel also said that he would like to see the lights at Patriarche Park turned back on.
“We got a growing number of pickleball players and a lot of them want to be able to maintain that exercise after sunset,” Manuel said. He said that the lights have been turned off for a few years now.
Manuel said that he has voted for both major parties and that he thinks blind party loyalty is what is dividing the country the most.
“I know I’m young, and that’s a knock on me,” Manuel said. “I just want to be part of the decision making. It’s important that everybody around here is part of that decision-making process."
The full candidate listing can be found on the City of East Lansing website.
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