Larry Hutchinson, Jr. | 2021 Lansing Mayoral Candidates On The Issues
Editor's note: This story contains a racial slur.
In just a few weeks, Lansing voters will cast their ballots in a primary to select the city's next mayor.
The Aug. 3 nonpartisan election will narrow down the number of candidates from six before the general in November.
WKAR is speaking to each one of them about why they're running and the biggest issues Lansing faces in the next few years.
WKAR's Sophia Saliby interviewed Larry Hutchinson, Jr. about his platform.
Sophia Saliby: This is All Things Considered on WKAR. I'm Sophia Saliby.
In just a few weeks, Lansing voters will cast their ballots in a primary to select the city's next mayor. The Aug. 3 nonpartisan election will narrow down the number of candidates from six before the general in November.
WKAR is speaking to each one of them about why they're running and the biggest issues Lansing faces in the next few years. Joining me today is Larry Hutchinson, Jr.
And a language warning: a few minutes into our conversation, Hutchinson uses a slur used to refer to Black people in a reference to a moment in Malcolm X's life. I started by asking him why he's the right person to run the city.
Larry Hutchinson Jr.: Well, Mr. Hutchinson is running out of a sense of duty, a sense of patriotic duty. When they stormed my Capitol, I sat with it for a couple of weeks. And then I said, "Well, this is what I'm going to do." They tried to kidnap my governor. What did they expect me to do?
Mr. Hutchinson is running out of a sense of duty, a sense of patriotic duty.
I was sitting here in the pandemic. I have this, all of this education that the American people paid for with Pell Grants. I studied, and this is what I do. I do not need handlers. I do not need a campaign manager. I do not need a street team. I've done all this all on my own.
Saliby: A big issue in the past year has been policing. How would you reform policing in the city? And would that include defunding the force in some capacity?
Hutchinson: If I'm fortunate enough to be the next mayor of Lansing, Michigan, they will not even think about trying to kidnap me or harm me in any form or fashion, or the police for that matter. As far as what I would like to see happen to the police, let us stop with the this—let us focus on illegal firearms. That's my main focus.
If you get pulled over with drugs, I could care less. Destroy them. If you get caught with an excessive amount of money, we'll take it, we'll give you a ticket and you can come and get your money back if you can prove how you acquired it. But if it's mixed with drugs, then we'll have to take it. But I'm not filling up my jails with petty—I want our jail cells, our resources and our law enforcement to be focused on violent crimes and major offenses.
Saliby: What are the biggest issues involving racial equity in the city to you, and how do you plan to address them?
Hutchinson: Let's not act like Malcolm X in the eighth grade, his teacher, when he went around the classroom, they said, "What would you like to be?" One said, "A fireman." "A teacher." "A nurse," and all this. Malcolm said, "I want to be an attorney." The teacher said, "Oh, Malcolm, you're a nigger." Excuse my language, but that's what he said. It's in the book.
So, when I was banned from the debate, you know, for no good reason, anything in that article is political satire. There was no good reason for them to ban me from the debate, especially when Ms. Dunbar almost killed a 75-year-old woman then totaled two vehicles. And the other candidates, there are three elected officials, none of them read that article and said, "You know what? This is crap." There's nothing in here that any reasonable person would have taken seriously. "I want to eat my opponents?" Come on. But see, they discriminated against me. That's it.
When they come back to me and asked me how much I want? $100 million. They can mediate it and give me whatever they want. But this was unfair. I've never heard of it. Donald Trump talked about grabbing someone's vagina. They didn't ban him from the debate. This woman almost killed someone. They didn't ban her from the debate. So yes, racism is still alive and well here in Lansing, Michigan. I'm sorry.
Saliby: We're pausing this interview to provide some context. Mr. Hutchinson is referencing a column he wrote for the Lansing City Pulse which included threats against other candidates. It led to him being banned from a debate organized by the City Pulse and Fox 47.
He's also referring to a car crash earlier this year in which mayoral candidate Kathie Dunbar hit someone else's car. No injuries were reported, and Dunbar did not receive a ticket. I next asked Hutchinson how he would stop the most vulnerable in the city from being left behind after the coronavirus pandemic.
Hutchinson: Well, I think that we don't have to wait on money from the federal government and with our hat in hand. We have roughly 120,000 residents. If everyone would put into a fund $10 a month, we could eradicate many of the ills that plague our city. It will be some kind of vote, some kind of electronic apparatus and everyone would see, if you're more wealthy, you can put more into it. If you're less, put whatever you have into the kitty.
Let's build up million dollars at a time and build a Lansing Resource Center where we can teach people the pride of homeownership and move them from not, you know, these predatory landlords or these slum lords where they get caught up in a place where they really don't feel comfortable.
Saliby: Lansing faces hundreds of millions of dollars in underfunded pension and retiree health care costs. How would you address this problem if elected?
Hutchinson: I would certainly bring all parties to the table, and see how we could remedy the situation. If we need more money from the federal government, the state government, or if the people are willing to take less of their pensions, I don't, I'm not a numbers person.
I'm a democracy person. I believe in the Constitution, the founding of this country, what this country stands for and means. That this is the greatest country in the world. And I believe I live in the most beautiful place in the world to live and raise a family: Lansing, Michigan.
Saliby: I'm Sophia Saliby. You're listening to my conversation with Lansing mayoral candidate, Larry Hutchinson, Jr. I also asked him to share his elevator pitch to voters on why they should choose him.
Hutchinson: I believe that campaign finance reform is imperative because too many of our elected officials continue to run election after election after election, and that's all they focus on. I will serve one term. I will give you your city back. You entrust me with your four years, and I will give you your city back.
You entrust me with your four years, and I will give you your city back.
And I will prepare this city for the next mayor. Hopefully, it will be some young, bright, shiny new personality that will propel our city into the future as far as it relates to publicly-funded elections and an election holiday that we can create a model for the rest of the state and the rest of the country.
This is the best place in the world. I don't want to go anywhere else. I don't want to vacation in Jamaica or Italy or somewhere else like that. This is where I'm from. This is where I'm gonna be buried. I love my parks. I love my zoo. I love my museum. I love my Capitol. I love it all. Thank you.
This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.