Lansing City Council Primary Preview

Aug 5, 2019

Tuesday is the primary election for the Lansing City Council. Eight challengers will face four incumbents for four seats. Lansing State Journal reporter Sarah Lehr covers the council and she joined WKAR’s politics reporter Abigail Censky to preview the election. 

Interview Highlights

A Field Of Self-Ascribed Progressives

“City council races are nonpartisan, but Lansing is very democratic. So, most of the candidates are branding themselves as progressives. At-large incumbents Carol Wood and Patricia Spitzley are trying to hang on to their seats against challengers Yanice Jackson-Long, Julee Rodocker, Terry Eagle and write-in Dan Ross. And in Northeast Lansing four people Brandon Betz, James Pyle, Scott Hughes and Farhan Sheikh-Omar are challenging and Jody Washington for her 1st Ward seat.”

So far, the primary campaign has remained relatively restrained with limited in-fighting among 1st Ward candidates scrapping for the ‘most-progressive’ label. The race is expected to take shape after the field of candidates is narrowed following Tuesday’s primary, in which, four of six at-large candidates and two of five 1st Ward candidates will advance to the general election in November. Council member Adam Hussain currently represents the 3rd Ward and is running unopposed, guaranteeing his spot on the November ballot. 

The Big Issues

“Marijuana is an issue that's dividing more progressive candidates against those who are perhaps more conservative in their approach. Soon recreational pot shops will be popping up in Michigan, so city council will have to take a stand on whether to ban or to limit recreational marijuana businesses. Also, ballooning pension and health care costs will be impossible to ignore. How will Lansing pay $700 million in legacy costs over the next few decades? Will candidates be willing to cut services? And will they risk tangling with police and fire unions?”

After recreational marijuana was legalized in Michigan, city council candidates are being forced to stake positions on the marijuana industry as would-be regulators if elected. Candidates have also weighed-in on economic development, repairing Lansing roads and sidewalks and immigration as part of a candidate survey conducted by the Lansing State Journal

Picking Up The Pace

“Oh, I think the races will definitely pick up steam candidates have already reported raising more than 50 grand total. Campaigning will only intensify as we get closer to the general election November 5.”

Candidates have raised a combined $50,000 for this election cycle, marking signs of a crescendoing race. Read more about Lansing State Journal journalist Sarah Lehr’s reporting on money flowing into city council campaign coffers, here

Follow Abigail on Twitter: @AbigailCensky

Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahGLehr