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Meet the Lansing City Council candidates running to represent Ward 3

Flickr - MI SHPO
Since 2016, Adam Hussain has represented Southwest Lansing residents as the Ward 3 City Councilmember.

In the Nov. 7 general election, voters in southwest Lansing will decide who they want to represent them on City Council.

Two-term incumbent Councilmember Adam Hussain is facing off against King Robertson to vie for the Ward 3 seat. The winner will serve on the council for a full four-year term through 2027.

Current councilmembers have focused on addressing red-tagged housing, negotiating the city's budget and enhancing economic development in Lansing. Ward 3 also includes Logan Square, a location that became the site of a mass shooting this summer. The council revoked a nearby venue's cabaret license following the incident.

WKAR asked the two candidates why they want to represent Ward 3. We also asked them how they would address policy issues that frequently come before the council. Here's what they said.

Candidates were told to please keep their responses to up to 250 words. Their responses have been shared without modification or editing.

Adam Hussain

A headshot of Adam Hussain, Lansing Ward 3 City Councilmember
Adam Hussain
Since 2016, Adam Hussain has represented Southwest Lansing residents as the Ward 3 City Councilmember

Adam Hussain was elected to the Ward 3 seat in 2015 and re-elected in 2019. He works as a social studies teacher at Waverly Community Schools.

Why are you running for Lansing City Council? What’s your elevator pitch for why voters should elect you?

The opportunity to serve Southwest Lansing has truly been a privilege. We have grown neighborhood and business associations and ensured their interconnectedness. We have worked tirelessly to connect the area’s non-profits, businesses, residents, and municipal leaders to effectuate real and sustainable growth. We have engaged in strategic planning efforts to move corridors and commercial districts forward, have literally built parks and playgrounds and brought about placemaking efforts throughout the 3rd ward, and resurrected programs such as the Lansing Business Facade Program to support small businesses. We have also worked on a number of policy initiatives to tackle the issues our stakeholders face in common. Examples include local ordinances to tackle predatory gambling operations and working with state partners on issues such as speed along our state trunklines. We’ve worked to enhance community policing, have been aggressive in our efforts to crack down on slumlords and protect both our commercial and housing stock, and have supported the creation of such entities as corridor improvement authorities that have the power to enhance business viability. There is much work left, however. We must continue to ensure that our infrastructure is addressed, commercial corridors and districts are supported, neighborhoods throughout the ward connected, scaffolded, and revitalized, and public safety and public services are prioritized. We have a number of projects that are in the works that could be transformational for Southwest Lansing. Among such projects are the ongoing redevelopment strategy of Logan Square, the demolition of the old Pleasant Grove School and subsequent building of a facility that will bring healthcare, banking, and community services to the residents of our community, and a Community Investment Trust effort on South Waverly that has potential for community ownership and wealth building. Although we have made tremendous strides over the course of the last few years, the job is simply not done.

In your opinion, what are Lansing’s biggest strengths?

We could easily discuss the fact that we have a thriving insurance and auto industry, that we have colleges and universities in and near Lansing that are truly World-class, that we are the seat of State government, that we have a robust park system, diverse housing stock, and stable built environment, or that we have two World-class healthcare institutions that employ thousands and provide life-saving services and other critical programming to our residents, among others. However, the people of Lansing are the biggest strength we have. We have a diverse, inclusive, and industrious community. We have scores of languages spoken, faiths practiced, and cultures demonstrated. We also have a multi-generational reality that speaks to the stability of the community. Simply put, our people are special and anything is possible with this team we have in place.

In your opinion, what are the biggest issues facing the city right now?

There are several challenges facing the city that require our urgent attention. The city’s unfunded legacy debt, currently at about $620 million, must continue to be prioritized. The city’s infrastructure continues to crumble and, most recently, estimates put the dollar amount in repairs and reconstruction at about $400 million. We have to continue to ensure that Lansing is safe and as such, we must prioritize public safety in our neighborhoods and in our commercial districts. We have a huge issue with our aging housing stock, particularly our rental units, and must continue to solve this critical issue. We must become more aggressive on the economic development front and consider all options in attracting and retaining employers. And, we must prioritize regionalization in the years to come.

How would you address housing?

We are meeting regularly with administration and law to address failed systems and policies. We are working with partners such as CAHP and the Land Bank on residential infill and housing diversity. We are marketing the little bit of contiguous, undeveloped land left in the city and exploring incentives and other tools to help with rehabilitation, renovation, and repurposing of older, blighted properties. We are working with state partners to secure more financial resources to support additional housing. These are, of course, but a few of things we are doing/must continue to do into the future.

How would you address public safety?

Any level of violent crime in Southwest Lansing is unacceptable and we’ve aggressively worked to abate. Once viewed as the unsafest area in town, data from May 2021-May 2023 shows that Southwest Lansing is now arguably the safest. We’ve worked to support and connect neighborhood organizations, grow new associations/watch groups, address underlying causes of crime in partnership with local agencies, strengthen relationships between neighbors/police, address nuisance properties and activity, craft ordinances to give Lansing greater leverage when addressing the foregoing, study our crime and address with smart, data-driven policing, and more. We will continue the work!

How would you address economic development?

I have chaired Economic Development and Planning multiple times and as part of the broader body, have helped lead the charge in vetting and approving numerous brownfield plans, obsolete property incentives, exemptions for the building or expanding of industrial facilities, and the like, when the developments create livability and job creation for the community. I have assisted in creating hundreds of local full-time employment opportunities and thousands of temporary construction jobs while making Lansing a more vibrant and sustainable community. Further, I advocated for the moving of the Lansing Economic Development Corporation from LEAP to the City of Lansing. As a result, we have seen 100% of the attention and resources allocated to the LEDC focused on the marketing and development of our community. And of course, I have advocated at the state level for additional economic development tools to be added to the state's toolbox so that we can be more competitive in attracting major employers to our region. Beyond some of the efforts to bring in large employers and diverse industries, I have worked to support our small businesses here in Lansing. I have worked with Economic Development and Planning and the Lansing Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) to explore avenues for creating access to capital for small businesses that have historically struggled to do so. I have helped small business owners in Lansing in securing consultation in financing, licensing, and taxation. Further, I advocated for a small business façade program in 2017 because I was hearing that business owners were not able to prioritize the exterior of their businesses when dealing with furnaces, plumbing, and other such matters. Beyond the obvious, we must consider the environment that we create and support to sustain economic development and job creation. Supporting additional funding from the general fund for infrastructure while also advocating to the state for changes in the allocation of road funding have been central to my work on the city’s built environment. Proactive code compliance and efforts to crack down on predatory businesses were sorely lacking in the early days of my representation. Consequently, I advocated for the creation and funding of a new position within Code Compliance that focuses solely on our commercial corridors, in addition to supporting added capacity within Economic Development and Planning. I spearheaded an effort to amend our signage code to ensure that illicit and ill-placed signs were able to be taken care of efficiently. I collaborated with the Board of Water and Light (LBWL) Commissioners to initiate a PILOT Stronger When Acting Together (SWAT) campaign to ensure that every business owner in Southwest Lansing was able to access energy efficiency programs offered through the LBWL. I also worked with the City Attorney and Public Safety Committee to create an ordinance that would allow the LPD and OCA to investigate and prosecute owners of illegal gambling establishments. The aforementioned are just a few of the avenues I have and will continue to traverse.

How would you address the city’s infrastructure?

I think we need to continue to focus on our two largest revenue streams, property and income taxes, and find ways to enhance those revenue streams. We need to make Lansing a better place to live, work, start a business, and grow a business. We also need to continue to pressure our partners at the state to amend the formula in PA 51 that results in urban areas receiving less money than rural and state infrastructure. We need to publicize the success and necessity of the road millage and ensure that voters understand the importance of continued support for such measures. I also believe we need to examine the budget closely and determine areas from which we can divert funds to roads and other transportation infrastructure.

Voters in November will weigh in on a ballot question that asks if the city charter should be revised. What’s your position on a possible charter revision?

My position is that folks should work to understand what they are voting on before voting. For informational purposes, the Lansing City Charter states that “the question of whether there shall be a general revision of the City Charter shall be submitted to the voters of the City of Lansing at the November general election held in 1987 and every 12 years thereafter and may be submitted at other times in the manner provided by law.” Consequently, City Council places the question of whether we should review the Charter and possibly consider changes on the ballot every 12 years. If voters approve a Charter revision, then an election is held within 60 days to elect a 9-member Charter Revision Commission. All meetings of the Commission are public. The Commission will hold meetings to review the charter and consider revisions. They would have three years to adopt a revised charter before being terminated as a body.

If the Charter Revision Commission meets and proposes a general revised charter, it is again submitted to the voters and the voters have the final say (after proposed revisions are approved by the Governor). If the voters reject the revisions, the Commission can 1.) take no further action and cease to exist or 2.) they can proceed with a further revision. Revisions can be submitted to the electors three times within a 3-year period.

King Robertson

King Robertson did not respond to multiple requests to answer our questions.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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