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What Lansing residents need to know as City Council interviews candidates to replace Betz

Flickr - MI SHPO
Lansing City Hall.

Lansing City Council is interviewing candidates Monday night to replace Ward 1 representative Brandon Betz.

Here's what residents need to know.

What happened with Betz?

Betz, who represents Lansing's east side, stepped down earlier this year, citing a desire to focus on his health and personal relationships.

Hefaced criticism after sending profane and combative text messages to Black Lives Matter activist Michael Lynn, Jr. during an argument about a year earlier. A group of residents was trying to initiate a recall election to unseat Betz, although Betz's Jan. 7 resignation led them to abandon those plans.

How will the vacancy be filled?

Betz had two years left in a four-year term, so the rest of City Council will appoint someone to temporarily fill Betz's seat under a process outlined in Lansing's city charter.

The appointed replacement will serve through the rest of 2022. And an election will take place this year to choose someone who will represent the 1st Ward for one year starting Jan. 1, 2023.

The general election will happen in November 2022 and, depending on the number of candidates who file, a nonpartisan primary in August will narrow down the contenders to fill that partial term.

Who are the contenders?

Eleven people are seeking City Council's approval to replace Betz temporarily. They are:

  • Undra Brown
  • Caitlin Cavanagh
  • Brian Daniels
  • Benjamin Dowd
  • LaSandra Jones
  • Samuel Klahn
  • Ryan Kost
  • Glenn Lopez
  • John Schneider
  • Farhan Sheikh-Omar
  • Tirstan Walters

How is City Council handling the process?

City Council members will interview the 11 candidates during a meeting starting at 6 p.m. Monday, assuming all the contenders pass a background check showing they meet Lansing's requirements for office.

Then, they'll vote to advance three candidates for longer interviews that will take place during a 6 p.m. session on Tuesday. The council will vote after 8 p.m. Tuesday on its final pick.

Council members will use paper ballots to narrow down candidates, but the body's clerk will read into the record how each member voted, Council President Adam Hussain said.

"Engaging in this process in a very public way was very important to us," Hussain said.

Click here to watch the meetings virtually. Full applications from the candidates can be read in an agenda packet.

Sarah Lehr is a politics and civics reporter for WKAR News.
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