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Community Advocacy Organization

Soul of the City-Candidates Share their vision for the City of Lansing

Updated: May 15, 2021

Lansing is at a turning point. We, as a community, have endured the ebenflow of many ups and downs. We are at a point where the community needs to decide where they want to go. Incumbent, Mayor Andy Schor, Councilman Patricia Spitzley, Larry James Hutchinson, Jr., Melissa Huber, Farhan Sheikh Omar, and Kathie Dunbar have all announced their intention to run for Mayor of Michigan's capital city. All of the candidates were asked to participate in this article by answering two questions: Why do you want to be Mayor? What do you bring to the table? Only Mayor Schor answered! Although Spitzley did announce her intent in writing to the Chronicle News via press release, she along with all other candidates failed to respond to the two questions asked by the Chronicle News.

Mayor Andy Schor’s responses:

1. Why do you want to be Mayor?

Serving the people of Lansing as your Mayor for the past three years has been a tremendous honor. While there have been many challenges during my tenure, we have tackled them head-on to do what is best for our community, and I’m proud of our accomplishments.

There is still much work to do. We need to get through these current crises we face - COVID, budgetary challenges due to the pandemic, and racial justice reforms. We need to ensure that we are continuing to improve our neighborhoods, keep people safe and secure, support our small businesses, and provide opportunities for Lansing residents.

We need to continue smart economic development to ensure investment and jobs are created in Lansing. We also need to help those in need, whether homeless or low-income, or those that have not had equitable opportunities in the past. Lansing needs to be showcased so that all residents can be proud of this amazing capital city we call home.

I will continue working cooperatively with our incredible city employees, Lansing City Council, our neighboring communities, nonprofit organizations, and other partners to grow Lansing and the entire region.

I hope to again earn your vote in the election later this year to continue to grow Lansing for you, your family, your neighborhood, and your future.

2. What do you bring to the table?

Under my leadership, Lansing has grown significantly even though the pandemic, with approximately $2 billion in new investment from projects both completed and in progress. Lansing was named the number one affordable city to live in the United States based on the high quality of life and low cost of living, as well as one of the top cities to live in after the pandemic.

I’ve focused on strong neighborhoods, infrastructure and city services, jobs and development, and working with local partners like our schools. My plan for Lansing includes a diverse, dense, livable, and welcoming environment for residents through all stages of life. I have focused on growing our city equitably, ensuring economic mobility and a vibrant, exciting city for all, and will continue to do so if re-elected to serve this great city.

Under my leadership, Lansing is coming through the COVID-19 pandemic even stronger. Lansing has an incredible new development, including housing for all incomes throughout the city, and new amenities like the Capital City Market and the Courtyard by Marriott hotel. I boosted recreational activities by opening Beacon and Rotary Park. And I provided rent and mortgage assistance for those in need.

And I pledge to address long-standing issues of racial justice head-on. I’ve made changes to city policies and engaged city and regional leaders to create a Racial Justice and Equity Plan for the City of Lansing. This is an ongoing effort that will make our city a place all are proud to call home.

Spitzley’s written announcement(Press Release):

Patricia Spitzley, a City Council member and lifelong Lansing resident, formally launched her campaign for election as Lansing’s 53rd mayor.

“Lansing faces big challenges, and the mayor’s job is to make sure we tackle these challenges together -- drawing on the best ideas and energy of all the people in our city,” Spitzley said today. “My commitment to you is that we will get up every morning and go to work for all the people, in all our neighborhoods, respectively and inclusively.”

Spitzley’s approach to serving as Mayor will emphasize:

  • Community inclusion and input from residents in every neighborhood

  • Transparency and accountability for decision-making and the budgeting process in the Mayor’s office

  • A commitment to bringing diverse groups and interests together and finding common ground

  • Transforming Public Safety so it truly protects all Lansing residents

“Lansing can no longer afford business-as-usual. People are tired of the same litany of bad decisions and empty promises that misguide us about city funds and spend our money on political paybacks that have nothing to do with our neighborhoods and the daily lives of people who live here. We need a Mayor who listens and brings us together for our common purpose of a strong and united Lansing. With your support, I will be that Mayor.”

Lansing City Council Candidates

The same questions were asked of candidates running for city council seats in the fourth ward, second ward, and at-large city council seats. In the fourth ward, Brian T. Jackson and Elvin Caldwell responded. In the second ward, Nicklas Zande, Jeremy A. Garza, and Oprah Revish all responded. In the at-large race, only Grant Blood responded. All other candidates failed to respond.

At-Large Grant Blood:

1. Why do you want to be a city councilman?

Serving on the City Council of Lansing would allow me the opportunity to give back to a city that has been my home for the better part of 13 years. Throughout my time living, working, and planting roots here, I have enjoyed seeing this city prosper and grow into the thriving capital and destination city it once was. There is so much more that can be done to continue the growth of our great city and I want to be part of that. Growing up on a dairy farm 45 minutes from Lansing I learned that with hard work you have great success. If you see a problem, you fix it and don’t stop until it's completed. I have fond memories of visiting the old Fisher Body Plant where my father was a UAW committeeman and seeing those hardworking automotive workers build the vehicles that Lansing is known for, this is a city built by blue-collar workers and they deserve a blue-collar council person.

But it is not all roses. The political climate over the past few years has been tumultuous and some members of law enforcement have shown a blatant disregard for life. This needs to stop.

And for that to happen we need new people in positions of power. This is not a "business-as-usual" setting in any elected position. A city cannot find success when the same people in leadership positions run on the same platforms year after year. Without a change in elected positions, how can there be any change for the greater good of the city? “Lansing deserves new Blood.”

2. What do you bring to the table?

I bring insight to the At-Large position because my main platform is police reform, which I understand is a sensitive subject. But I am not fearful of touchy subjects. I believe police reform is necessary for our community, state, and nation. Part of the solution lies in a strategy that Lansing is already using which is the community policing model. This model was set by an MSU professor and is now widely used across the nation. Through community policing, law enforcement actively building relationships with the community, strengthening rapport, and working to rebuild trust. With a well-trained police force, education, and buy-in on this front, I believe change can begin. We have set the foundation, but I want Lansing to be idolized by its neighbors for our work in this space. The partnerships that I have cultivated with various community members will allow me to bring a different perspective to the table and make a meaningful change one step at a time.

4th Ward Brian T. Jackson:

1.Why do you want to be a city councilman?

I want to continue to be the Fourth Ward Lansing City Council representative because I care about the direction of Lansing's progress. I want to help move the city forward in a way that we all can be proud of. I realize that Lansing has a diverse population with competing interests and that everyone's voice is important. I want to continue to bring the voices of marginalized communities to the table so that nobody is left out. I grew up in Lansing, work in Lansing and raise my growing family in Lansing. I am invested in the City and want to use my unique background and experiences to make important decisions and try to make Lansing a better place for everyone.

2. What do you bring to the table?

I bring to the table a balanced and empathetic point of view. As a Lansing native, a graduate of Sexton H.S., and an active community member, I have formed long-standing relationships with many people in the community which will help me better understand their issues. As an attorney, I can see both sides of the issues which helps me make decisions for the whole. I work for ordinary people, not special interests. I have no extraordinary connections to special interests and have a record of being an independent thinker. I am a Councilperson who pushes to have all important conversations in a public forum and not behind closed doors. Most importantly, I am a person who treats everyone with respect. When I am reelected to Fourth Ward Lansing City Council, I will continue to lead in a thoughtful, respectful way that seeks to consider all sides of the issue. During my first term, I was able to build relationships and learn the processes and politics of City Hall. I will use the knowledge that I gained during my first term, to be more effective and better serve the Fourth Ward residents in my second term.

4th Ward Elvin Caldwell Jr:

1. Why do you want to be a city councilman?

I am ELVIN Caldwell Jr., I live and work in Lansing’s Fourth Ward. It has been my pleasure and privilege to have served and continue to be involved with Lansing`s Fourth Ward`s residents, business owners, families.

  • As an educator, I’ve worked with school children and in the community at large.

  • As a Realtor® I’ve assisted families in purchasing and selling homes.

  • As a legislative consultant, I get to advocate for neighbors and local businesses.

  • As an entrepreneur, I have partnered my business, "Umbrella Sock Co." with local nonprofits to give back.

2. What do you bring to the table?

I am running for Lansing City Council 4th Ward, With The Following Objectives:

  • Local Jobs & Small Businesses - Advocate for economic development opportunities to help them grow & thrive

  • Lansing neighborhoods - Protect & enhance through the wise use of tax dollars

  • Dignity as a top priority - Draft & support policies that make the city a safe place to work and live

  • Teamwork - Produce public/private partnerships to help our city and the Lansing region prosper

I firmly believe the hardworking, creative, and giving people of Lansing deserve forward-thinking elected leadership willing to go to work each day focused on solving problems to improve our community on all levels and I am willing to do that.

I bring all of the principles that have enabled me to serve 4th Ward residents and families in education, real estate, advocacy, and business. These principles include honesty, integrity, preparedness, and commitment. I am eager to serve and will continue serving Lansing`s 4th Ward.

2nd Ward Nicklas Zande:

1. Why do you want to be a councilman?

Because Garza has failed to address the issues at heart and has done nothing period on the City Council. His justification for not doing anything about recent events is because he's afraid of what his constituents have to say about him.

2. What do you bring to the table?

I want to lower the police budget by 45% and use that money for other things. Such as the Department of Neighborhoods and Citizens Engagement.

Jeremy A. Garza:

1. Why do you want to be a councilman?

I’m running for re-election so I can continue serving as a strong voice for working families in South Lansing, who far too often are overlooked by regular politicians and special interests.

I bring a unique perspective to the City Council, both in terms of my ethnicity as the only Latino council member and through my work background. I grew up in Lansing, the proud son of a UAW member, and I’ve worked as a union plumber for 22 years. I serve as the safety director for UA Local 333, the local plumbers and pipefitters union down on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. I know how important it is for the community to have good jobs so families can put food on the table.

I’ve lived on the Southeast side of town for nearly 20 years, so I understand the issues facing South Lansing. I also understand the hopes and dreams that parents and grandparents have for future generations. My wife, Alicia, is a registered nurse at McLaren Greater Lansing, and we have two young daughters: Calla, 11, and Eva, 9. We want the best for them and every child in Lansing — and that’s why I do what I do.

2. What do you bring to the table?

I’m not a typical politician. I’m a blue-collar worker with a young family, and I'm committed to improving the quality of life for Lansing families, seniors, and children. With that perspective, I’m focused on three core issues.

First, we must invest in South Lansing's priorities, such as fixing our crumbling roads, keeping residents safe, and cleaning up our neighborhoods.

Second, we need to put everyday people before corporate special interests. For too many years, rich developers and corporate CEOs ran the show at Lansing City Hall — at the expense of everyday working families who saw their neighborhood roads crumble and local parks left to decay. I’m working to flip that dynamic and put the needs of everyday Lansing residents first.

Third, I’m working to create good-paying jobs for local workers. Developers and companies receiving city tax incentives should be required to give local workers the first shot at any jobs that their tax dollars help create — and those jobs must provide workers a living wage and dignity at work.

2nd Ward Oprah Revish:

1. Why do you want to be a city councilman?

I want to represent Ward 2 because Lansing citizens deserve representation and someone who listens to and fights for their needs. I want the work I do as a councilperson to touch the lives of everyday people. We deserve a local government that works for us. Our youth need skilled teachers, paid well, and have the resources to give them a top-notch education. Our roads deserve better care and upgrades. I believe in divesting from the police and investing in our community. No one person has the answers, we collectively can imagine a new Lansing and make it happen!

2. What do you bring to the table?

I believe in being solution-oriented and getting creative to fix problems that oftentimes feel insurmountable. I honestly believe in our community's ability to fix problems. I don't have all the answers, but I know collectively we do have the answers.

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