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Politics & Government
0000017b-01f0-d19f-ab7b-19f505140000Listen to the series Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Morning Edition and All Things Considered. 13 City Council Candidates. Five Questions.WKAR reached out to 13 candidates running for City Council in Lansing and East Lansing to ask them the same set of questions about their respective cities. 12 accepted the invitation. This is what they had to say about big issues in Lansing and East Lansing. Lansing City Council How should the City of Lansing confront its legacy costs?How big of a role should cannabis entrepreneurship play in Lansing? Why?Lansing City Council Candidates What should be done to secure affordable housing in the city for people who live paycheck to paycheck?What are your plans to attract more businesses, residents, and investment to Lansing? Mayor Schor has been in office for two years now, Lansing operates on a strong mayor system, what letter grade you’d give him?East Lansing City CouncilAre you in favor of the pace of development in East Lansing and the direction it’s going in? What are your thoughts on the parking situation in East Lansing?East Lansing City Council Candidates What role should marijuana (recreational or medical) play in East Lansing’s future?Do you support the new East Lansing city income tax?What are your thoughts on the East Lansing City Council’s recent vote to criminalize LGBTQ conversion therapy?About The ProjectAll of the candidate interviews occurred in WKAR’s studio with the exception of one interview that was conducted off-site. Candidates were not provided with the questions in advance.The interviews took place between late September and mid October. Candidates were asked five questions about big issues in their city and asked to provide any policy changes they believe should be implemented around those issues.Of those questions, we chose three issues per city that are emblematic of this election cycle to air in a radio series called Roundabout: City Council Election Coverage. East Lansing will air beginning October 21. And, Lansing will air beginning October 28. Short clips of the candidate’s responses to all of the questions are included on the web.Over the course of the project, the Lansing City Council voted on new rules to govern recreational marijuana businesses. Lansing candidates Brandon Betz and Yanice Jackson-Long were interviewed in advance of that vote; thus, their answers may reflect that timeline.Lansing candidate Adam Hussain did not participate in the series. Hussain did not respond after multiple requests for comment.

Debriefing The Lansing And East Lansing City Council Elections

Newcomers made the biggest gains on both the Lansing and East Lansing City Council's with Brandon Betz ousting incumbent Jody Washington. And, Lisa Babcock and Jessy Gregg knocking off Eric Altmann in East Lansing.
Amanda Pinckney, WKAR
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Newcomers made the biggest gains on both the Lansing and East Lansing City Council's with Brandon Betz ousting incumbent Jody Washington. And, Lisa Babcock and Jessy Gregg knocking off Eric Altmann in East Lansing.

Two incumbents were ousted from the Lansing and East Lansing City Councils in Tuesday’s election. The upsets were part of a trend of progressive and anti-establishment newcomers, unseating well-financed and widely recognized incumbents. WKAR’s Abigail Censky talked to Lansing State Journal Reporter Sarah Lehr about the results. Below are highlights of their conversation. 

Interview Highlights

Betz Boots Washington Off Council

“He took 54% of the vote according to unofficial results, which is pretty significant, I would say, particularly when he's unseating an incumbent who fundraised him more than two to one prior to the election.”

Washington far outraised Betz in advance of Tuesday, flooding Northeast Lansing with mailers. Betz, an economist with the Michigan League, pitched himself to voters as the progressive foil to Washington’s establishment presence on the council. Their most notable campaign differences were over business and marijuana. Betz wanted to raise the cap on recreational marijuana businesses, and invest in small cannabis entrepreneurs and vocally opposed Washington’s ‘no’ vote on a social equity provision defeated on the council several weeks before the election.

Wood Wins Final Term, Spitzley Keeps Seat

“I was not surprised that Carol would hung on to her seat. I mean, she's a five-term incumbent. Anytime she runs for city council pretty much in the last 20 years, she's kept her seat pretty handily. And as for Patricia Spitzley, I mean, her margin was not as comfortable as Carol Wood’s. But I mean, Patricia Spitzley did not raise as much money as Carol Wood, but she had endorsements of a lot of establishment groups, including labor unions, the Chamber of Commerce.”

Wood and Spitzley claimed the two At-Large seats, defeating challengers Yanice Jackson-Long and Julee Rodocker.

Newcomers Win The Day In East Lansing

“I mean, some could say that's a vote against the political establishment in East Lansing. Mark Meadows is a longtime political figure. He served for years on the East Lansing city council before serving in the state legislature back on the council now and according to unofficial results, he beat Eric Altmann by only two votes.”

Newcomers Lisa Babcock and Jessy Gregg earned the highest share of votes in East Lansing on Tuesday. Their nearly 25 % margins, edged mayor pro tempore Eric Altmann off of the council. However, current Mayor Mark Meadows, bested Altmann by just two votes. While the results are unofficial, Altmann said he does not plan to request a recount.

Follow Abigail on Twitter: @AbigailCensky 

Follow Sarah on Twitter: @SarahGLehr

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