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Candidates for Lansing's Ward 1 want to address the city's lack of affordable housing

Photo collage of Ryan Kost (left) and Brian Daniels (right). Kost has red hair and white skin. He has a slight closed lip smile in the image. Kost s wearing clear glasses and a black zip up. Brian Daniels has light brown skin and is bald. He's smiling wide in the image. He can be seen wearing a black suit jacket with a light blue with polka dots collared shirt underneath.
Ryan Kost and Brian Daniels are vying a one-year term representing the northeast side that will begin in January and last through 2023.

Two candidates are competing for a partial City Council term representing Lansing’s Ward 1.

Brian Daniels and Ryan Kost are vying for a one-year term representing the northeast side that will begin in January and last through 2023.

Daniels was appointed by City Council to serve in the seat in February following the resignation of former Ward 1 Council Member Brandon Betz.

They'll compete Nov. 8 for a one-year term that will begin in January and last through 2023. The position opened after former Ward 1 Council Member Brandon Betz resigned earlier this year.

When Betz resigned in January after citing a desire to focus on his health and personal relationships. Last year, Betzwas censured by the rest of the councilafter it became public that he had exchanged profane and combative text messages with a Black Lives Matter activist.

WKAR asked each of the candidates to give us their pitch for why voters should elect them as a Ward 1 representatives. Both candidates said the lack of affordable housing is one of the key concerns for the Lansing community.

We also asked them to share how they hope to improve infrastructure on Lansing’s Eastside.

Here’s what they said:

Brian Daniels

Brian Daniels Pitch

Brian Daniels is a U.S Army Veteran and owner of Empower Lansing, an east side boxing gym. He was appointed by City Council to serve in the vacant seat left by Betz since February. The former U.S. Army veteran’s priorities include transparency, inclusion and bridge building.

How do you pitch yourself as a candidate to voters?

Hi, this is Brian Daniels, First Ward Lansing City Council representative, and I look forward to earning your vote on November 8th. Since my time on council, I've been able to build a coalition of people who are focused on working together across the aisle rather than focus on their political differences. We don't have time for division. Since my time on council, I've been able to get $500,000 for local roads to make sure our streets actually get fixed, $100,000 for the Old Town Commercial Association, to make sure that Old Town continues to grow and thrive. We live in a great city, one that deserves to be safer and to continue to grow. And I want to help be a part of that. It's an absolute honor to represent the people of the First Ward, and I hope that on November 8, you'll vote for me to continue to do so. Your voice matters. I hope I continue to be an advocate for you, and no matter what, vote on November 8th.

You were appointed councilmember In February, what have been some of your main focuses in that time?

I can give you a list of things I've done. I've been focused on trying to help from all angles. I've added $500,000 to local roads via the budget to make sure our streets are getting fixed.

I was able to get the Administration to commit $100,000 to the Old Town Commercial Association to protect the entity itself and make sure the progress in Old Town doesn't slow down.

I've voted for increased Transparency and accessibility on Council.

Security matters to me. I've helped citizens obtain cameras for their homes to increase their sense of security. And the security of the neighborhood.

I've helped citizens who were witnesses to violent crime find mental health services so they can more forward in a healthy way with the proper tools.

I've also held constituent contact meetings to get feedback and listen to the wants and needs of the 1st Ward.

I'll continue to work hard and try to build bridges in our community. It's important to heal the divisions we have. They hold us all back.

What are the biggest issues facing Lansing’s Eastside?

Safety and our housing stock. Crime continues to be an issue around the Eastside and Lansing as a whole. We have an understaffed police department which we're looking to address, we need to increase community engagement with more neighborhood watch groups.

People tell me they no longer feel as safe. We have to change that.

And our housing stock isn't getting younger. We have slumlords uninterested in investing in the homes they neglect now. We need to work with our State Reps to see what we can do to make them bring their homes up to code.

We also need a stronger, more efficient code compliance dept. This is something I've been working on since I was appointed February 1st. This is something I'll continue to push for.

How would you work to improve public safety in Lansing?

This starts with supporting the Bond proposal for Police and Fire. I've toured the buildings, I've spoken with leadership and officers about the need and what they want to see.

We also need to come find more job opportunities for Lansing residents. People with jobs, purpose and full stomachs make better and less desperate decisions.

With the concerns of inflation and a potential recession, how would you try help residents facing economic uncertainty?

I think education is key. Helping people to understand how to prioritize their needs and wants. I think we need to make sure we are working to bring different kinds of jobs to Lansing to help make our city recession proof.

What would you like to do to improve infrastructure on Lansing’s Eastside?

I'll continue to encourage development on Michigan Ave that creates economic opportunities for the neighborhood. It's not as easy as just approving or declining PILOT programs. We have to weigh the pros and cons of each project, while keeping in mind everyone in our community and whats best for the future of our city.

Ryan Kost

Ryan Kost Pitch

Ryan Kost Works for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in information technology. Before deciding to run for Ward 1 Council, he made it his mission to keep Lansing’s parks trash free. He regularly walks the city’s parks picking up trash.

How do you pitch yourself as a candidate to voters?

I'm Ryan Kost, I'm running for Lansing City Council. My focus is on community. When I say community, I mean me and you, the people that actually live here. Our parks, we need to do a better job of improving our infrastructure within our parks, and the programming in our parks for not only kids, but adults. In housing, there are many issues when it comes to housing. One of which is the 750 red tag houses we currently have. That is an unacceptable number. We need to focus on how to reduce that number and find out how we got to that number. I think that some things have been mismanaged here in the city. And the focus has been taken off of the neighborhoods and put into other areas, such as developments, and we need to take the focus back on to the citizens in the neighborhoods and the people that live here. Like you and I.

How would you work to effectively collaborate with the rest of City Council?

I have a great working relationship with many of the City Council members, and I plan to work with them the same way I do with my neighbors and the people in the first ward. That is collaborative, open, honest, and willing. City Council works best when it works together, as does our community. So I will be effective and tireless in finding solutions in the proper fashion of working together for the greater good.

What are the biggest issues facing Lansing’s Eastside?

The most significant issues facing the Eastside and the 1st ward are housing, lack of attention from the city, and defocusing on the people. We have over 750 red-tagged homes in the City of Lansing, which is unacceptable. The code compliance department is being mismanaged, and it is hurting all of our neighborhoods. The lack of attention from the city is apparent on every street, from our roads to our sidewalks, to streetlights out. The focus has been not on the people who live here but on the wealthy developers who have bought up most of the town. Now we sit with empty storefronts and neighborhoods that have been left behind. We need to have a city council member who has a passion for the people who live here, has been here for four generations, and understands Lansing, and that is me.

How would you work to improve public safety in Lansing?

You improve it by getting more community involvement. We first need to get community police officer positions filled. There are only 5 of the 12 posts currently filled. We also must do this together, and by that, I mean it starts with the city government responding to issues in the community and focusing on the people. When you disinvest in the community, it starts to fall apart. I want to put the focus on the people who live here.

With the concerns of inflation and a potential recession, how would you try help residents facing economic uncertainty?

We have been here before. I can tell you I will handle it as we handled it back when we had this hit us hard in the late 2000s, which is everyone has a seat at the table, we get input from all stakeholders, hear what is happening to people, make adjustments to help, avoid adding more bonds on top of already high taxes, and take one step at a time. We got thru this once before, and times were hard; I was here, I know, but I know we can get thru it together, which is vital. No one gets left behind.

What would you like to do to improve infrastructure on Lansing’s Eastside?

We need to start with the simple stuff. I would ask the mayor to request more money from the state for our roads, an accurate inventory of the condition of our sidewalks, and fixed lighting. That is the start of a long list of infrastructure issues that again have piled up as we have shifted the focus off our neighborhoods. I have reported hundreds of problems with sidewalks as I have gone out and fought for our community, and it is unacceptable to see the conditions of some sidewalks. We want to be a walkable community, then let's prove it.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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