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Lansing charter amendment would allow felons to serve on boards

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Lansing voters will decide the fate of a ballot proposal allowing people with felony records to serve on city boards and commissions.

Under Lansing’s city charter, people with a felony conviction within the last 20 years are barred from serving.

Mayor Andy Schor says he believes in second chances. He cites the example of a small business owner who he says has paid his debt to society for a mistake he made years ago, who now would like to serve.

“The City of Lansing should be willing to take what folks are willing to give,” Schor said. “And to let them volunteer and help their community.”

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor
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Lansing Mayor Andy Schor.

Like other appointees, a person with a felony record would still be subject to background checks and confirmation that their taxes are paid in full.

“It’s punitive to not allow those who have reformed themselves to serve their community,” Schor added. “They are taxpayers, and they’ve done their time for what they did in the past, and now they can be productive members of the community.”

The measure would not change the city charter provision barring felons from running for or holding elective office in Lansing.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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