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Lansing primary survivors on BWL, Niowave, other issues

Emily Dievendorf photo
Scott Pohl
Emily Dievendorf is an at-large candidate for Lansing city council.

There will be at least one new face on 2016’s Lansing City Council. Current State talks with a couple of candidates who survived Tuesday’s primary, Emily Dievendorf and Patricia Spitzley.

Lansing voters narrowed the field of 2016 city council candidates in yesterday’s primary election. In the capital city's third ward, voters chose challenger Adam Hussain and incumbent A’Lynne Boles to square off in November. In yesterday's at-large run off, voters chose Carol Wood, Patricia Spitzley, Harold Leeman Jr. and Emily Dievendorf to be on the ballot in November.

Current State talks with two of the candidates.

Emily Dievendorf is the former executive director of Equality Michigan, a statewide organization that advocates for the state’s LGBT citizens.

Patricia Spitzley is a Lansing based official with the RACER Trust, which works to redevelop properties owned by General Motors before its 2009 bankruptcy.


On whether to sell---or to study the potential sale of---the Lansing Board of Water and Light. 

Patricia Spitzley: I think the first thing we all need to do is just pause and take a deep breath. It’s been in the press a lot and it’s a very inflammatory and polarizing subject. 

We need to look at all of our assets. And do a very detailed, thoughtful study into the value of all of our assets (as to) whether or not it’s appropriate to sell City Hall.  (And) look at our parks. 

The Lansing Board of Water and Light is an asset that we should look at. Having said that, it’s also an asset that I think is a wonderful tool for economic development. I propose a review and an audit of the Lansing Board of Water and Light including its worth but also (look at) how it’s run so that we can get that information from this independent source, have all the information in front of us, and then have a discussion. But have a thoughtful discussion, not a discussion in the press. 

I do oppose a sale at this point. I think it would be irresponsible for me to say I would never consider selling the Lansing Board of Water and Light. I also think it’s irresponsible for me to say I will sell without looking at everything and without having this detailed review of the board and having this detailed review of all of our city assets.  

Emily Dievendorf: The study, for me, would have to be not just of the value of the Board of Water and Light, and an evaluation of how that functions for the city and how we benefit, but it should be an evaluation, an inventory of how we’re functioning as a city period. Whether the way that we are operating is sustainable for the short and long term. So I do believe that selling the Board of Water and Light should be an absolute last resort. 

I think that we’re really jumping into this by saying that we may have a bankruptcy and I do think we should absolutely look into exactly what size that crisis may be.  We should not be going to one of our most delectable wells in order to try to solve our crisis, first and foremost. We should not be paying for our past mistakes with one of our greatest assets.

On being contacted by Mayor Bernero about running. 

Patricia Spitzley: A number of people have been talking to me about running. Again, I’ve been on the Parks Board and I’m on the airport board. So again, when the open seat came it was a good time to run. The mayor also reached out to me but a number of other people have also reached out to me and asked me to run.

Did the mayor’s conversation with you make the difference?

The mayor did speak to me but I spoke with my family and my children. I also spoke to a number of people in the community that I trust before I made the decision. So it was a combination of all those discussions and the open seat.

Emily Dievendorf: I had not considered running for city council or any elected position before Vince Delgado decided not to run again. And, I too, had a conversation with the mayor. However, when I was approached, both by the mayor and a number of local community leaders, I had the opportunity to sit down and think about whether I was satisfied with how Lansing was running itself, with how our leaders were working together.

I don’t tend to be somebody who loves to be the person in the front, but I’ll do what needs to be done for my community. So I absolutely would not have considered it not knowing Vince Delgado was not going to run again. But after having heard that and hearing that I would have the support of the Lansing City leaders, I felt like this was perhaps what I need to do right now for myself and my community.

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