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Meet the 36 candidates running for Lansing’s City Charter Commission

Arjun Thakkar / WKAR-MSU

Updated on April 19 at 11:45 p.m. ET

On May 7, Lansing voters will elect nine candidates to lead the first revision to Lansing’s City Charter in more than 40 years.

Voters narrowly authorized a revision of the city’s governing document last November. 36 candidates are running to serve on a commission that will engage with community members, review the charter and propose changes to the rules that guide Lansing’s local government.

Those modifications can include minor revisions in language, or broader changes like shifting when elections occur and restructuring Lansing’s form of government.

The revision process will come at a cost. City Clerk Chris Swope has already requested $500,000 to support staffing and operations for the process, which must be complete by two-and-a-half years from now. Commissioners will each be paid a maximum of $18,000 for holding up to 90 meetings.

After the commission proposes its updated version of the charter, the document will need to be reviewed and approved by the Michigan Attorney General and governor’s offices. Lansing residents have the final say at the ballot box and will be able to vote up or down on the charter proposal.

The group vying to run for the commission includes a former state representative and city councilmembers, non-profit founders, business owners, union members and a number of youth candidates.

The Lansing Regional Chamber PAC, a political action committee representing city business leaders, has endorsed a slate of nine candidates. A group of nine other candidates are also campaigning together in response to concerns about “the influence of special interest groups” under the name Lansing Community Alliance.

WKAR asked the 36 candidates why they want to be elected to the commission and how they would approach revising the charter. Here's what they said.

Candidates were told to please keep their responses to up to 300 words. Their responses have been shared without modification.

Guillermo Z. Lopez

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Guillermo Z. Lopez is a member of the Lansing School Board of Education and several other committees, including the Michigan Commission of Services to the Aging, Lansing Promise Board of Directors and Lansing Board of Police Commissioners. He’s a former employee of Lansing’s Department of Human Relations and Community Services. Lopez has been endorsed by the Lansing Regional Chamber PAC.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

I am running for this position with the intent to review every article of the current charter and to help provide recommendations that will produce a charter that has the necessary checks and balances for good governance that protects the rights and responsibilities of city residents and which will lays the ground for their prosperity.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

I do not come into this with my mind set on changing any part of the charter without due study and reflection as to its potential impact on the community. The notion of changing from a strong mayor to a weak mayor form of government requires a deep dive as to how this change would impact the community in the present and in the long run. Changing the requirements of residents to serve in boards and commissions is also an item that I would like to study before making any recommendations for change. Same goes for any other proposed changes that come to the table.

Jesse Lasorda

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Jesse Lasorda buys and sells antiques for the group Rediscovered History and serves on the Ingham County Historical Commission. Lasorda previously worked for the Lansing School District and has served the Historical Society of Greater Lansing and Lansing Area African American Genealogical Society.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

I'm running to help make changes to an old and antiquated City Charter dating back to 1978. Voters made it clear they want changes that reflect what's involving currently.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

Residents have made it clear that a Strong Mayor System no longer works. I would advocate for a City Manager, Eight possibly Nine Ward City Council positions and eliminated the current four at Large Seats. Give Boards, Commissions and City Council more control. The Charter Language needs to reflect changes that have occurred in the past almost 50 years.

Mitch Rice

Mitch Rice is a retired mental health and addiction counselor. He volunteers for multiple organizations, including the City Rescue Mission of Lansing. Rice is a former member of the City Council in Coldwater and serves on the Lansing Board of Zoning Appeals.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

After we voters approved a City Charter Review, I considered running for one of the 9 City Charter Commissioners. I believe our City Charter should reflect the current needs of our city and culture. This was an easy decision for me. I see this as a 2 ½ year commitment for the people and have no other political ambitions. Additionally, I have the time, experience past and present in citizen, city and charter matters. I have accessed the Michigan Municipal League’s Charter Revision Handbook to help guide me in this candidacy.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

A review of the whole charter is needed to evaluate its current effectiveness for the citizens of Lansing in 2024 and for the next 15-20 years. Consider current culture, lifestyles, discrimination, access and input into local government and services. It is essential to engage citizens in the whole process, citizen focused meetings, continuous commission outreach, education on charter process for citizens, sharing ideas and information regularly throughout the process and promotion of commission activity. Key considerations: make Lansing affordable, meet citizen needs for city services, housing, education, activities and employment. The City Charter Commission can review current government structure and processes to determine what is working well and what may be changed to meet the needs listed. Areas to consider: Form of government: Strong Mayor or Manager; at large city council seats verses Wards only, training for boards & commissions. Elected offices verses appointed. Increase collaboration, communication and planning for city government from all appointed, elected and city employed people.

Stan S. Shuck

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Stan Shuck is retired after working for the city of Lansing for more than 30 years. Shuck has served as vice chair for UAW Local 2256.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

I have opposed the strong mayor system for decades. The obvious and continued economic deals that have crippled Lansings revenue streams needs to be addressed. The vacancies are also a huge injustice to the taxpayers that pay for these positions. And the services they provide. Hundreds of thousands of work hours that are paid for and budgeted. But not provided. A city manager system would oversea and streamline the hiring process. A manager system is at will. And a manager can be held responsible. The strong mayor system takes years to hold the mayor responsible through the voting process. Lansing needs accountability for the bad economic decisions being made. It's time for Lansing to come into the modern way of government. One that makes economic sense for the future of Lansing.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

There is plenty of house keeping issues and language that needs to be updated. The number of council members and at large postions need to be discussed. The continued dead lock in the council voting process is but one of the issues in the council language tgat needs review. The mayors language and powers also need to be discussed and addressed. Most successful city's have realized this and are going to City Manager systems. They're economically better off by changing to the Manager system. Over 150 municipalities in Michigan have already made the change. The Capital city needs to join them in that process. We can be a World-class city again. That starts with charter language and change. Lansing needs economic change for the future.

Tim Knowlton

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Tim Knowlton is an attorney and long-time city resident.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

I was motivated by a desire to establish a 9-member City Council, eliminating the possibility of ties on the full Council, and permitting mayoral vetoes to be overridden by a two-thirds vote of the Council -- as the Charter now provides -- instead of three-fourths as an 8-member City Council effectively requires. In addition to an expanded City Council, I would like the Charter to provide for ranked-choice voting, which has been adopted by at least five Michigan cities, subject to authorization at the state level. RCV eliminates the concern about ""throwing away"" one's vote and the necessity of a primary election, saving the City money. It is a more democratic approach. While I favor an elected mayor, I also support Charter adjustments to more equitably distribute power between the Council and Mayor. For instance, I would support a system where City boards are selected 50% by the Mayor and 50% by the Council. I also favor a new method for resolving alleged violations of City Code, where persons accused of violations are extended some real due process, including, if requested, a hearing in front of a neutral decision maker, subject to written rules of evidence, with burden of proof on the City. Anyone with ideas about Charter revisions or my views, please email me at tsk9653@yahoo.com .

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

By and large, my personal test would be whether the proposed change increases democracy and equality for City residents. As part of community input, I would attempt to ascertain if certain proposed changes are counterproductive insofar as a significant group of citizens are concerned. Ultimately, most laws result in some unintended consequences. Of course, one needs to keep one’s ear to the ground in contemplating changes as a new Charter has to be accepted by Lansing voters. I think the Commission should have a website that addresses the topics that are scheduled to be discussed at each meeting and that specifically requests citizen input, including the development of polls to help assess the degree of support for different Charter options. I would also be willing to attend and take citizen input at forums sponsored by different groups within the City. Personally, I would make myself accessible to citizens to discuss their ideas.

Ted O’Dell

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Ted O’Dell works at LaFontaine Automotive Group. He previously served as city manager for Beaverton and is a former candidate for Lansing City Council. O’Dell is also a former legislative aide in the Michigan House and Senate.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

Because I would like to offer the citizens of Lansing an experienced voice and the issue of charter revision. As a lifelong public servant and advocate with experience in worker representation, public employee contract negotiations, grievance processing and representation, arbitration hearing representation, EEOC hearing representation, Federal adjudication of SSI and SSD cases I am the candidate who offers hands on experience and common sense governing thought leadership.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

The law mandates, City charter revision must be an open process which is inclusive of every part of our local community. Because this is a process which needs to be all inclusive, I go into the election, with no preconceived notions. However, as a 35 year resident of Lansing. It is my opinion some of the big issues coming before the Charter Commission will be the retention of a strong Mayor system and how a professional city manager could benefit future mayors and future council members. Should the mayor be a voting member of the city Council? If not, we should remove the requirements for the Mayor to attend council meetings. The Number of city Council members will certainly be a topic to be addressed. Data from across the country shows us those municipalities served by council members serving an in wards And districts tend to be more representative of the voting public as opposed to those who serve in a quote at large” capacity. We should seek to prevent unelected volunteers on boards and commissions from the hiring and firing of Dept. heads. That is a decision that should be left up to professional HR staff and chief executive officers of the city. There should be no changes to the operating system of the board of water and light that will hurt development or growth in our community. Unelected volunteers to boards and commissions should not be burdened with the hiring and firing of department heads or Department HR issues. Those things are best left to executive decision makers. All appointed boards and commissions should clearly serve in a “advise and consent” role. The commission should also look at requiring the ethics board to review and judge, ethical violations, and take those decisions out of the hands of locally elected political leaders. There needs to be an update of the language surrounding discrimination, and updated provision to include sexual orientation, gender, identity, and other factors. The commission should also look at making sure the office of the city attorney continues to be responsible to determine legalities of operations of the administration and city Council considerations. There should also be an update, to the cities, EOCC process to remove elected officials from that process. Lastly, maintaining a municipal tax authority for real estate and income is also an issue to be addressed as it is a major funding source to the city budget.

Brian C. Jeffries

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Brian Jeffries is the lead attorney for Student Legal Services at Michigan State University. He’s a former Lansing City Council member and has served on the Ingham County Board of Commissioners and Lansing Community College Board of Trustees. Jeffries has been endorsed by the Lansing Regional Chamber PAC.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

We have a personal responsibility to improve our community. I believe the Lansing Charter Revision Commission will be the most consequential local governmental entity in Lansing. The City Charter is our local Constitution. The Michigan Municipal League describes a charter as a document that "prescribes procedures to be followed in operating local government, establishes the powers and duties of elected officials, creates safeguards to protect against misuse of authority, and provides opportunities for citizen involvement. Michigan is a home rule state, and home rule gives the citizenry the right and responsibility to form its own government. A charter provides the mechanism for accomplishing the myriad tasks assigned to elected officials to govern their communities." Although there have been 8 amendments to parts of the current Charter since its inception (over 45 years ago), the Charter Revision Commission will be charged to review the entire document and make changes. These changes may include simply updating language, to addressing significant issues facing our community and how we want our City government to work and represent its citizens. As an attorney and in continuance of my public service, I cannot think of any greater responsibility nor anything more impactful than serving on the Lansing Charter Revision Commission.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

My approach - Engagement and involvement must be driven by a transparent community engagement process. I would encourage the Commission to hold educational forums and listening sessions throughout the City. This can be done working with existing neighborhood and community organizations including Faith-based and marginalized groups as well as other community stakeholders. In-person and remote meeting opportunities, with agenda and meeting minutes available electronically and in hard copies, should be part of the process. All meetings of the Commission should be open to the public and I would have the meeting notices posted on various social media platforms, print media, broadcast media and the internet. I would also consider creating a Charter Commission Public Engagement Sub-Committee to ensure people are heard and are directly involved in the process.

Changes - This will be the first revision of Lansing’s Charter in over 45 years. Many changes in law have occurred since then, so I would begin by reviewing the Charter to ensure that it conforms with the requirements of the Home Rule City Act and the Michigan Constitution. I would update the Charter to incorporate certain City policies and ordinances, such as the Human Rights ordinance. I will require a fiscal analysis be conducted of all proposed changes to ensure we understand their cost and affordability. My focus is not so much on revising a specific provision, but supporting changes to ensure that the revised Charter will empower our residents and earn their trust. My role will be to listen, with an open mind, to create common sense changes. The result: a Charter that requires transparency, openness, and public involvement in the City’s processes and operations; reflects the values and concerns of all our citizens; and that would ultimately be supported by a majority of our voters.

Ross Yednock

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Ross Yednock works for the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services and is a licensed real estate agent. He is the treasurer for the Justice League of Greater Lansing. Yednock served multiple state elected officials, including as an assistant for then-Attorney General Jennifer Granholm before she was elected governor. Yednock is part of the Lansing Community Alliance.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

After the November election last year, I began talking with different people in my network about the commission. That led me to file paperwork so I could start collecting signatures to get my name on the ballot. I wanted to go this route because I thought it was important to listen to people throughout Lansing (and not just people “in the know”) about what they thought about the city, its charter and its direction. Quite a few folks I spoke to were not aware of its passing. Those I spoke with who had not supported its passing didn’t think it was worth the time, effort or money. Those I spoke to who supported the commission were frustrated, intensely so, about the direction of the city, a lack of investment in neighborhoods and a general sense of disconnection from our city’s government, and its people.

From these conversations it became clear to me that the work of the Commission needed to be done the right way: 1) The Commission should actively and intentionally engage Lansing’s residents and diverse communities and neighbors; 2) The work of the Commission must be open and transparent and not be used to push a particular agenda, or as a launching pad for any commissioner’s personal gain; and 3) The final product of the Commission should ensure that appropriate and adequate checks and balances are in place that hold Lansing’s elected officials and branches of the government accountable to the people of Lansing.

In simple terms, this is too important for politics as usual and I am concerned about any external influences impacting the work of the commission in a way that does not address the concerns, goals and wishes of Lansing’s voters and their vision for the future.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

The work of the Charter Review Commission is an awesome responsibility, one that demands transparency and openness. Michigan’s Freedom of Information and Public Meetings Acts require that all Commission meetings be open to the public and the Michigan Campaign Finance Act requires that every person who runs for the Commission must publicly disclose who is contributing to their campaign. I believe candidates for the City Charter Commission should go further and not accept funds from any current elected officials of the City of Lansing or their family members and people or businesses with contracts with the City of Lansing. I also think anyone serving on the Commission should not run for any city office in the first or second election after a new charter is adopted to avoid any appearance of impropriety, potential conflict of interest or personal benefit from participating on the Commission.

The Commission should spend its year educating both its members and the residents of Lansing on its process, its charge, and the options available under the law. The Commission MUST be intentional in reaching out to different communities and neighborhoods and actively seek their input, comments, and preferences for the work of the Commission. Already, there is a lot of distrust of our city’s government by different constituencies and the Commission must acknowledge this and seek to set itself apart from the current government as it looks at what our city’s future government could look like.

Sensible changes that should be considered include decreasing the number of at-large seats on the Council and increasing ward representation. This would help to decrease special interest money funding elections and increase community representation. I would also propose changing city elections to align with presidential/gubernatorial elections. This would increase voter participation while decreasing costs to the city.

Derek Melot

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Derek Melot is director of communications for the Michigan Association of Counties. He serves on the Capital Area Transportation Board of Directors and the Lansing Elected Officers Compensation Commission and is a former senior editor of Bridge Magazine, the Center for Michigan publication that would later become Bridge Michigan.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

A governing document requires periodic review and potentially alterations. The charter is overdue for such a comprehensive review. Should I be elected to the commission, my three principles would be: Transparency, Responsibility and Accountability. A major factor in the disengagement of many city voters – as reflected by municipal election turnout rates – is they do not see who is responsible for city action (or inaction) and do not think they can hold anyone accountable. The goal in the coming year should be to answer questions: Who is responsible? How are they held accountable?

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

A beginning point is to revise the membership of the City Council. No legislative body should have an even number of members. The charter's requirements for the number of council meetings is onerous and counterproductive. The charter mandates some advisory panels that serve no useful purpose and should be eliminated.

Samuel Klahn

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Samuel Klahn is a recent graduate of Michigan State University who founded Lansing Area Mutual Aid during the COVID-19 pandemic. Klahn is part of the Lansing Community Alliance.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

Lansing has given me a great life. I had a happy childhood, a top-tier education in our public schools, and the best support system possible. The love and support of this city empowered me to attend Michigan State and develop a skillset focused on the intersection of policy analysis and community engagement. Everyone in Lansing deserves to work, play, live, and raise a family with dignity and pride. Everyone in Lansing deserves to be heard, and have an actionable presence in determining how our city works for everyone. I am particularly concerned with ensuring that systems are accountable, transparent, inclusive, and equitable. I believe in Lansing. I am optimistic that we will have a Commission and a process that places the people of Lansing above any other interests or considerations, and that at the end of the day, we will enact a Charter that makes Lansing a better city. It would be an honor to serve on the Commission and to give back to my hometown.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

I think the Charter Review Commission is committed to an iterative process that constantly informs residents, solicits feedback, and implements feedback into the process. Any major revision needs to have strong support from the residents of Lansing.

People are talking about a lot of possible directions. Switching our elections to even years to better align with state and federal elections, or reevaluating the strong-mayor form of government for example. For the sake of integrity, we need members of the Commission who are committed to the process and to listen to residents more than we need people who want to push for their favored changes to our city government. I like the idea of making the boards and commissions appointed equally by the City Council rather than having the Mayor appoint all 200+ individuals. The Commission shouldn't just sit in city hall every other week, we should very intentionally go out into the community and make sure that we seek out perspectives from all walks of life.

Layna Anderson

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Layna Anderson is a communications manager at Michigan State University. She previously worked for Downtown Lansing Inc. Anderson is part of the Lansing Community Alliance.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

I moved to the Lansing area when I was 18 years old and have lived here ever since. I love this city. I believe we can improve the way Lansing functions, increase transparency and efficiency, balance power, and enhance inclusion. My unique blend of experience in both municipal government and communications makes me exceptionally qualified to tackle his this charter revision. I understand the scope and limitations of a city charter; what can and cannot be included in the document. I think we should study other city charters – other capital cities, other cities with similar population sizes – and consider if it would be beneficial for Lansing. I also believe we should aim to be thought leaders. In a few years, Lansing’s city charter could be the one folks in other cities are studying to try to replicate our success. I am confident that the right nine commissioners can accomplish this, and I am up to the task to join eight other folks in this task.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

I have three main priorities:

1. Restructure city council. We should have an odd number of members. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, including redrawing wards. For example, we can create six wards for our city, have one representative from each ward, and three at-large members. This would increase representation from previously underrepresented areas of the city.

2. Restrict the mayor's authority to appoint department heads. Currently, the mayor can appoint any individual to these roles, irrespective of their qualifications, education, or experience. This policy needs revision to ensure that only qualified candidates can be appointed to these critical positions.

3. Take a critical look at boards and commissions. There are a number of areas where we could increase resources. These three focus areas will help to create a city government that is inclusive, equitable, and transparent to residents.

Monte D. Jackson, II

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Monte D. Jackson II is an attorney and commercial real estate appraiser.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

My decision to run for the Lansing City Charter Revision Commission reflects my commitment to being an active participant in shaping the future of Lansing. I seek to streamline bureaucratic processes and address new issues facing our evolving community. I aim to modernize structures where appropriate, aligning them with evolving community values, while also preserving the aspects of the city charter that have been effective. Advocating for charter reform signifies my dedication to civic engagement and the pursuit of a more responsive and resilient urban environment for Lansing residents.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

My approach to reviewing the city charter aims to revise areas of the charter that can improve the efficiency of government and address the evolving needs of Lansing. A few of the changes that I propose include: (1) creation of an additional ward seat for city council, (2) a mandate for quarterly budget reports from the mayor that show the relation between the estimated and actual income and expenses, and (3) the addition of an ordinance that creates a legal cause of action for tenants against landlords who employ deceptive methods against tenants who don't possess the means to assert their legal rights effectively. For further review of my positions, please refer to my website at vote4montejackson.com.

Elizabeth Driscoll Boyd

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Elizabeth Driscoll Boyd runs the firm Liz Boyd Public Relations. She has held multiple roles in state government, including as press secretary for former Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Boyd has been endorsed by the Lansing Regional Chamber PAC.

Editor’s Note: after publication, Boyd offered WKAR a correction to a typo in her response which has been updated below.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

The city charter will guide Lansing’s future and that is why commissioners must conduct a review that is thorough, thoughtful, transparent, and without regard for special interests. I am a life-long resident of Lansing with degrees from Michigan State University and decision-making experience based on having worked with statewide elected officials of both political parties. While I have often wanted to seek public office, my professional and personal commitments have stood in the way. I now have the time to serve and that is why I am seeking election to the charter commission.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

I believe the process should be thorough, thoughtful and transparent. Further, commissioners should not be beholden to special interests. If elected I will approach this review with an open mind. I am anxious to research the issues and hear what people, both inside and outside city government, have to say about the current charter and how it works. The commission's research will lead it to offer recommendations that ultimately will be decided by the voters.

Corwin Donald Smidt

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Corwin Donald Smidt is a professor of political science at Michigan State University.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

I love this city, and I want to make sure that the charter reforms proposed are firmly based on research evidence showing it will support the vibrancy of this community. As a political scientist, I recognize charter revisions provide a great opportunity to strengthen Lansing government and help our elected leaders and civil servants become more effective at serving its residents. I am passionate about Lansing and want to see it flourish. I also recognize city charter changes can cause more harm than good, especially when done as sweeping overhauls. I have a healthy dose of scientific skepticism and remain cautious in supporting unproven reforms or too many changes at once. Institutional changes do not work without the buy-in of our civil servants and, most importantly, the public. The City of Lansing needs a tune up, not a tear down!

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

Compared to other candidates I would highlight two differences in my approach. First, I know how to read the research literature on what municipal reforms do and do not work and what findings are or are not applicable to our situation in Lansing. I would prioritize consulting those and acting on those. Two, I am trained in survey and community input methods, and would be focused on making sure all voices get heard in the process, not just the loudest voices. In terms of changes that should be made, a few obvious ones are changing to an odd number of city council members and updating the language to be more inclusive. The research evidence also suggests that moving to even-year elections would save the city money, increase civic participation, and not substantially change the balance of voices within elections. However, I am generally skeptical of the notion of campaigning on specific revisions. For instance, having more members on City Council may be initially appealing, until one wrestles with what that means for payment, the balance of at-large vs. wards, and the requirements for boards and commissions to have representation across all wards. Instead of supporting specific reforms, I prefer that this commission listens to the public to identify our priorities for what this charter needs to do. The commissions job is to then make sure all facets of the charter work together to support achieving those priorities.

Randy Dykhuis

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Randy Dykhuis is president of the Capital Area Friends of the Environment and chair of the Lansing Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Sustainability. He is a retired librarian and former director of the Midwest Collaborative for Library Services. Dykhuis is part of the Lansing Community Alliance.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

Civic engagement has always been important to me. That's why I spent my working life in libraries and nonprofit agencies. Over the years, I have been part of groups, both formal and informal, that have advocated on behalf of educational, social justice and environmental issues. In 1997, I chaired the millage committee for the then brand-new Capital Area District Library. It was not guaranteed that we would succeed. But we did. Twenty-five years later, CADL is a cornerstone of the cultural life of not only Lansing but many surrounding municipalities. More recently, I was part of a group of residents that advocated for the establishment of an environmental or sustainability commission in Lansing. I am sure that helped the mayor make his decision to form the Mayor's Advisory Commission on Sustainability a few years ago. I have been on the commission since its formation, and this year am serving as chair. Lastly, I'll point to Capital Area Friends of the Environment where I serve as president of the board. We formed CAFE in June 2023. Since then we have become a strong voice for climate action and a just transition to clean energy. When it became clear that Lansing needed an advocacy voice for strong climate action and sustainability, it was natural for me to swing into action and organize others to help create an organization which could provide that voice.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

I would like to see improvements to the functioning of boards and commissions. The appointment process must become more transparent and democratic. The current charter gives the mayor the power to make appointments with the advice and consent of the city council. Council should have a larger role in the appointment process. One possible change would be to make public the names of all those under consideration for any board or commission. This way the public knows who has applied. The selection for appointment could then be done by a committee that might include the mayor, city clerk and two members of city council. There may be other workable approaches that I would be happy to consider. These changes would have the effect of making the process more transparent and more democratic.

I will also consider term limits for appointed board and commissions. Appointed positions are very different from elected positions. Term limits for elected officials harm democracy. However, with appointed positions, a limit of two terms would open boards and commissions to more individuals in the community and actually promote democracy. I have heard from some who have applied to serve that they find it difficult to get consideration because of what they perceive to be a “good, ol’ boys/gals club” where current members are constantly reappointed or recycled to other boards or commissions.

I would strongly support the establishment of a sustainability commission in the charter. Lansing needs a body that can advise both administration and city council on matters related to the environment and sustainability.

Julie Vandenboom

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Julie Vandenboom has worked in multiple roles for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and was involved with the creation of the Michigan Child Support Anti-Racism Transformation Team. Vandenboom is part of the Lansing Community Alliance.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

I’m running because I believe that Lansing can be a city for all of us. I’m running because I’ve thrived in Lansing and I want others to be able to do the same. I’ve heard from many people in our city who feel un-represented or under-represented in city government. Many have expressed to me that while there are opportunities available in Lansing, not everyone is aware of them. A lot of times it comes down to who you know and which neighborhood you live in.

Personally, I’m at a point in my life where I don’t have the same parental obligations I had when my son was younger. I have the time and the energy to commit to an obligation as large and as serious as the charter commission.

My number one priority as I run is to hear from Lansing residents about what’s working in your neighborhoods and what you might want to see happening differently in Lansing. Please reach out to me at julievandenboom.com or email me at vandenboomchartercommission@gmail.com.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

My first priority as we approach the review of the charter is to make sure that there is plenty of community input. I don’t mean just a 3-minute public comment period like you see at City Council meetings today - but an opportunity for community members to sit down and have in-depth conversations with commission members about issues that affect them in their daily lives. Commission members should be meeting Lansing residents in their neighborhoods - at community centers and in schools and churches. These meetings should be happening early in the morning, in the afternoons and evenings, and on the weekends, so everyone has a chance to attend. There should also be mechanisms in place for Lansing residents to share their input virtually, in writing, or one on one. These options should be deliberately considered and not added on as an afterthought.

As for some of the specific parts of the charter that could be revised, I’ve been involved in countless conversations with Lansing residents, including some of the other candidates. I hesitate to fully make up my mind about any of these issues before the commission forms, because we haven’t heard all of the voices yet.

I will say that I’m leaning toward the idea of increasing the number of wards in Lansing, and possibly decreasing or eliminating at-large representation on the Council. I’m also leaning toward recommending that Lansing move city elections to the even years, which would allow us to take advantage of increased voter turnout and would also offer significant cost savings to the city. I’d love to hear from Lansing residents on these and other issues.

Muhammad Qawwee II

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A U.S. Army veteran, Muhammad Qawwee II serves on the Lansing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion advisory board and is president of the UAW Local 4911 for University of Michigan Health-Sparrow. Qawwee has been endorsed by the Lansing Regional Chamber PAC.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

My goal is to be a vital part of enhancing the effectiveness, transparency, and accountability of our local government. Our current governing body is going well, but there is always room for review and change.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

I plan to go into our communities and see how we as a charter commission can work hand in hand to drive civic engagement to better our decisions. I will engage with multiple community groups, strengthen existing relationships and network to ensure our charter reflects the values, aspirations, and needs of our diverse and dynamic community.

Nicklas Wayne Zande

Editor's Note: Nicklas Zande did not submit a photo to accompany his responses.

Nicklas Zande is a frequent speaker at Lansing City Council meetings.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

Because I ran for City Council last year on the platform of changing the City Charter, and campaigned for its opening. And because of that success, I feel that I need to run to deliver what I promised to do with it.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

I'd review it in an open and transparent process, and update the people of Lansing on social media to at least give them a heads up about the next meeting. As for what changes I'd make, I would do away with the At-Large seats and increase the number of wards, make the City Attorney and City Treasurer elected rather than appointed, implement ranked choice voting, move elections to the even years, add a City Manager to help the Mayor run day to day operations, limit the Mayor's time in office to two four year terms, etc.

Dedria Humphries Barker

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Dedria Humphries Barker is an author and columnist for the Lansing City Pulse and former writer for Lansing State Journal. She previously worked as an English writing and literature professor at Lansing Community College.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

I am running for the Lansing City Charter Commission because I have the strong skill set in areas that the Charter Commission needs. As an educator and leader I know how to lead a group to be successful with a goal in a set period of time. I know how to cooperatively work with others. I know how to think through a problem, and find solutions and options. I know a diverse set of people and actively seek their point of view. My contribution to the City of Lansing has been to strengthen it and I will continue to do that on the Charter Commission.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

I would approach the review of the city Charter with a comprehensive read of the document and initiating discussions of it to make sure members can find agreement on meaning of key parts. I would use the resources that are made available to the Commission, such as the Michigan Municipal League. Much has changed in Lansing in the 46 years since the last Charter Commission met. Communication is one of those changes, both technology and messaging. I believe a policy that emphasizes communication as a value, and sets accountability on elected officials for effective communication with residents. This change will be a comprehensive statement on the many communication tasks that are now included in elected officials rights and responsibilities. In addition to a legal language version of the Charter, I also want a plain English version so that residents can be fairly sure when they read the Charter that they understand it. I also believe access to the ballot can be eased by looking at the number of signatures for petitions, and the possibility of collecting those signatures digitally. I think the Mayor and Council should share the power to initiate appointments to Boards and Commissions.

Michele K. Fickes

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Michele K. Fickes describes herself as a business professional.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

I love Lansing. I am running for the Lansing City Charter Commission because I have the passion and skills to make Lansing government more efficient, accessible, transparent, and responsive. I will give my thought, my time, my abilities to this community, contributing immeasurable ideas to its structure and working with other leading citizens to shape it’s nature as a city of dignity and culture. I will keep what’s right and work to fix what’s wrong.

I love Lansing, not just because I born here but I have deep roots in the community. I am planted here. I am here to contribute my time and talents in making it a better community. Therefore, I am committed to do the work in making that happen.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

The City Charter Commission should closely examine the city and its present charter, study the experience (best practices) of other cities or counties under their respective charters and forms of government, determine the best principles of local government to build into proposed charter changes, and then draft a new charter, charter amendments, or presumably an improved charter. The commission should seek input from all stakeholders especially city residents by listening and evaluating to address changes to the charter. This process should be open and transparent with regular communications to the public.

I am very passionate about structuring all city activities to reflect social equity and civic engagement, involving all members of the community in civic affairs and enhancing efficiencies.

• Infusing Equity: The need for social equity and infusing equity with into the City Charter as well as other city operational structures by evaluating access, quality, procedural fairness, and outcomes.

• Public Engagement: The importance of community engagement and how these principles of equity, accountability, transparency, accessibility, collaboration, and evaluations can be reflected both in the City Charter and in other structures.

• Enhancing Efficiencies: There are structural approaches that can clarify the structure, powers, functions, and procedures and improve the performance of the city government.

My hope is this revised city charter can contribute to an environment in which the city can rebuild confidence in democratic institutions, bridge the polarization gap and bitter partisan divides, increase our capacity for public problem-solving and move the city toward a genuine, participatory, multi-racial democracy while retaining the enhanced capacity for effective governance that have been developed over the past.

Joan Bauer

36 candidates are running for the Lansing City Charter Commission.
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36 candidates are running for the Lansing City Charter Commission.

Joan Bauer is a former Democratic state representative for a Michigan House district that included Lansing. Bauer has served in the Lansing Community College Office of the President and is a former at-large member of the Lansing City Council. Bauer has been endorsed by the Lansing Regional Chamber PAC.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

I am running for the Lansing City Charter Commission because I feel that my past experiences as a Lansing City Council member and state representative would be of value to the work of the commission. I am a longtime Lansing resident who has a history of community involvement. I love our city, have chosen to live in Lansing for the past forty years and am committed to public service.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

The Charter Commission provides the opportunity to thoroughly review the current charter and recommend any changes that could help our city government better serve our residents and strengthen our city. It is important that the commission members give thoughtful consideration of all issues, keep an open mind, seek public input and research models of governance. We are fortunate to have Michigan State University, Lansing Community College and the Michigan Municipal League in our region and the charter commission should avail themselves of their expertise. Most important, the Charter Commission must seek public input from all stakeholders in the community. I am keeping an open mind and, if elected, welcome the opportunity to be part of reviewing and revising Lansing's City Charter.

Stephen Purchase

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Stephen Purchase directs communications for the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights. Purchase serves on the city’s Board of Fire Commissioners and has served as chair for the Lansing School District’s Parent Advisory Committee. Purchase has been endorsed by the Lansing Regional Chamber PAC.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

I decided to run for the Charter Commission after seeing how our City Government works from the outside and after having served on the Lansing Board of Fire Commissioners. I have long given thought to the form and function of local governments, have had meaningful conversations with officials and staff working under various local governments. I would bring a rigorous, thoughtful approach to the work. Further, serving as Chair of the Lansing School District's Parent Community Advisory Committee (PCAC) has given me a keen appreciation for the importance of pursuing open dialogue with all parts of our diverse community, and I am committed to bringing that experience to bear in order to uphold a high standard for transparency and engagement.

We have a rare opportunity to improve government and better position it to solve the issues of an increasingly complex world. There is a high bar to enact any changes, and based on my experience, I believe I would bring a useful mix of thoughtful deliberation, consensus building and outreach, and experience to the table to maximize this opportunity for our community.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

The review of our city charter should be rigorous. The process should involve substantial community engagement; to educate the public, to provide ample opportunity for input, and to ensure transparency. I would draw on my work with PCAC facilitating community conversations. It is crucial for commissioners to do their due diligence, speaking to government officials, community members, experts, and those from other communities to identify best practices. I believe in bringing ideas to the table and testing those ideas through discussion and debate so that we hopefully arrive at the best possible proposals for revision. There are a number of technical changes that should be made to modernize the Charter. I would start by clarifying the role of boards and commissions to better serve as centers of engagement and transparency.

Britt Houze

36 candidates are running for the Lansing City Charter Commission.
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36 candidates are running for the Lansing City Charter Commission.

Britt Houze owns a clothing and marketing company and serves as a compliance supervisor for Skymint Brands.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

I am a concerned citizen looking to take a stand to give back and help my community. Lansing has been rich in opportunities and resources that have been fundamental in my growth and I know that I have the necessary skills needed to be effective in the office. I come ready to be a voice of the people and to have a conversation to hear all sides to make the best decision to move the city forward. I believe together we all can have a brighter future.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

I would first want to make sure we understand the duties and reach of the charter and make sure the language speaks to the current state of city life but also make a living document that looks out for future residents to come . Next would be to make sure that it is inclusive and that all residents of the city can have equal and fair access to opportunities and resources that are available.

Heath B. Lowry

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Heath B. Lowry is a staff attorney and policy specialist for the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence. He is also board president of the Westside Neighborhood Association. Lowry is part of the Lansing Community Alliance.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

I am participating in this race because it is a chance to use my skills to help build a Lansing that listens. That vision begins with establishing a community-driven, responsive government in our foundational document, the charter. My roots are firmly planted in this city—I am building my family here and constantly envisioning a brighter future. As I reflect on what enhances my love for this city, I appreciate the diverse neighborhoods, each with its own unique personalities and distinct needs. Every neighborhood, along with its residents, deserves a powerful voice within the government. In my experience, solutions often emerge from those who directly bear the weight of broken systems. I am committed to bringing this perspective to the Commission and ensuring that Lansing truly listens.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

I will advocate for a process and revisions that are community-centered, transparent, and future-focused. I pledge to drive changes that amplify the voices of those historically marginalized in government decision-making. As we delve into the intricacies of the Charter, which comprises interconnected components, several key areas warrant closer examination.

Firstly, the Commission should enhance checks and balances between the executive and legislative authorities within the city, particularly regarding the budget making process and appointment process. Secondly, we must critically evaluate whether our existing ward structure effectively serves Lansing’s diverse and vibrant communities. Currently, this structure falls short of adequately representing the wide spectrum of needs and opinions within our city.

Additionally, we also should review what, if any, authority should be vested to the Boards and Commissions. These structures hold vast potential for civic engagement and should be optimized to their fullest capacity. Lastly, the Commission should work toward improving election accessibility by aligning our election timing with statewide elections and revisiting qualifications for public office. These changes have the potential to amplify the voices of all Lansing residents.

Jazmin Anderson

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Jazmin Anderson is director of equitable economic development with the Lansing Economic Area Partnership. She previously worked at Downtown Lansing Inc. and the Michigan League for Public Policy. Anderson is part of the Lansing Community Alliance.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

I'm running for the Charter Commission because I'm deeply rooted in Lansing and passionate about our community's future. With a strong foundation in community engagement and economic development, I'm excited to bring a fresh perspective to the table. My experience at LEAP, Downtown Lansing Inc., and the Michigan League for Public Policy has equipped me with the tools to navigate complex challenges and foster positive change. I aim to bring fresh perspectives to optimize governance, provide strategic oversight, and ensure inclusive engagement. Together, we can build a Charter that reflects everyone's needs and fosters a thriving, responsive Lansing.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

If elected, my approach to reviewing the city charter would be rooted in community engagement and thorough research. I have already started educating residents and gathering their input over the past couple of months. Throughout the review process, I would create a collaborative environment, actively involving stakeholders from all areas of the community. By facilitating dialogue and leveraging collective expertise, we can develop a charter that reflects Lansing's values and aspirations, while simultaneously promoting effective and accountable governance.

A major focus of our discussions will be the structure of our city's governance—whether we should opt for a strong mayor system, a weak one, or perhaps a council-manager setup. We will also consider factors such as the number of wards, the composition of the city council, and the formation and authority of boards and commissions. Additionally, it is important to examine election procedures to ensure democratic participation and representation.

Ultimately, my goal is to enhance checks and balances, increase transparency, and ensure equitable power distribution within the city government. This may involve restructuring roles and responsibilities to better serve the community's interests.

Jerry Norris

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Jerry Norris is CEO of the Fledge, a community center that houses volunteer services and educational programs. He has work experience in quality assurance and system management positions. Norris is part of the Lansing Community Alliance.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

The decision to enter the charter commission race came after much contemplation and was anything but easy. My commitment to ""the Fledge"" is unwavering, and it requires substantial daily effort to fulfill our mission. The weight of this responsibility meant I had to be certain I could build additional capacity within our team to continue our work effectively, even as I dedicated time to serve on the commission, should I be elected.

I followed the developments of the charter revision closely, recognizing the gravity of what it signified for our community. It was in these discussions and planning sessions, as part of the People's Council, that I felt a pull towards contributing more directly to the city's future.

The encouragement from the community was heartening; several individuals, acknowledging my background and experiences, suggested that my skills would be an asset to the commission. This, paired with my deep-rooted connection to Lansing—a city that has been a nurturing ground for me through the support of family, mentors, and the broader community—fueled my resolve.

Yet, it was not until the final day for submissions, around 2:30 PM, that a pivotal development occurred. An event, which I am not ready to disclose publicly, provided the assurance I needed that ""the Fledge"" could continue to thrive and that I could indeed commit the necessary time and energy to the commission.

My decision to run is driven by a belief that poverty is a policy choice and that with the right strategies, such as improved transparency, equitable practices, and participatory democracy, we can effectively address it. It is time for me to leverage my unique perspective and expertise towards crafting a fairer and more effective city charter, contributing to a more prosperous Lansing for all.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

My approach to reviewing the city charter is methodical and community-centric. Firstly, I will leverage my current understanding of the charter as a springboard for deeper analysis. Secondly, I'll build on this foundation through specialized training to discern the potential scope of amendments.

Thirdly, my existing connections with many current candidates—nearly 30—augur well for fruitful collaborations, given the high likelihood of working alongside familiar faces once elected.

Fourthly, my decade-long tenure at The Fledge has equipped me with a set of working hypotheses about our city's needs, directly shaped by community interaction and feedback.

Fifthly, my lifetime bond with Lansing—spanning 57 years—enriches my perspective and further informs my hypotheses about what changes may be necessary.

Finally, I am committed to rigorously testing these hypotheses against their feasibility, community input, their societal costs, and most crucially, their impact on democratic participation. The litmus test for any charter amendment I endorse is clear: Does it enhance or hinder our citizens' engagement in the democratic process? My aim is to foster a charter that galvanizes civic involvement and upholds the tenets of an empowered, informed community."

Lori Adams Simon

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Lori Adams Simon is the interim director of equity and inclusion at Lansing Community College. She previously directed DEI efforts at Sparrow Health System and served as a chief of staff in the state legislature, president of Lansing’s Board of Ethics and as a member of the Lansing NAACP.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

My purpose has always been to serve others and my community. Because of this, I decided to run for the Lansing City Charter Commission to make a significant contribution to the City of Lansing. By serving on the Commission, I would be a part of a team that will play a vital role in assessing and revising the city’s governance structure and together through community engagement could implement changes that will shape the future of Lansing for years to come.

I see areas of opportunities where Lansing's government could be more effective, transparent, and accountable and as a Commissioner I could advocate for those improvements.

The foundation of my campaign and service on the commission will be Collaboration, Respect, and Transparency. I am committed to working collaboratively with the commissioners and city residents for the next three years; I will be respectful to everyone involved in the process, as well as listen respectfully to the diverse perspectives of Lansing residents; and I will demand and foster open and transparent dialogue to ensure that the city’s governance structure reflects the aspirations of Lansing residents.

I also understand that representation matters and I want to represent Lansing especially the 3rd Ward. The Commission needs members with diverse backgrounds and perspectives who have strong interpersonal skills and who are culturally competent. I want to ensure that all Lansing City residents have a voice and that their voices are heard so collectively we can revise the charter in a manner that is equitable for all.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

As an independent thinker, I will approach the revision process with an open mind. I will be focused on several key areas during the revision process.

It will be imperative that everyone involved in the process understands the current charter and thoroughly reviews the existing charter to understand its strengths, weaknesses, and outdated elements. For example, I will be focused on removing unintended biases in the document and making sure that the language in the charter is inclusive. Case in point would be updating the Non-Discrimination and Civil Rights section to be in accordance with state and federal laws.

I would research and analyze current challenges faced by the city of Lansing. And then I would look for areas where the charter can be improved to address those issues.

I would actively seek input and listen to the concerns and priorities of the city residents through public hearings, forums, online surveys, and outreach to diverse community groups. During this process clear and transparent communication about the revision process, any proposed changes, and their potential impact must be conveyed and made accessible and understandable to the city residents.

I would research how other cities address similar challenges through their charters and seek advice from experts in local government, law, and policy. I would advocate for solutions that represent the best interests of the entire community while fostering collaboration between the commissioners and the community.

It will also be important to consider how the revisions will impact the city's growth and development and take into account any costs associated with implementing proposed revisions.

By focusing on these areas, as a commissioner I would be contributing to a revision process that is inclusive and well-informed, and the end result will be a stronger, more effective and equitable city charter.

Ben Dowd

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Allie Siarto

Ben Dowd is associate director and chief operating officer at the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM). He has experience in banking and has served on multiple non-profit boards, including as chair of Lansing Pride and president of the Old Town Commercial Association. Dowd has been endorsed by the Lansing Regional Chamber PAC.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

I am running for the commission because I feel I have a lot to offer. I have proven myself to be able to work with groups in the community to get to a common goal. I think it is important to have someone who can assist with keeping the group moving forward and being able to direct conversations to where they need to go, should they not directly impact the conversations about the charter.

I also want to ensure that things are reviewed with an equity lens. The last version was adopted without the considerations of representing all parts of our community, and it is imperative that inclusive language is represented in the charter.

Lastly, I don't have a specific issue or topic that is driving me to run. I strongly feel we need to use a democratic process to understand what the community wants to see in the new charter and I am coming into that without influence of desire for any specific ""must change"" items. This is my personal approach and I know that others have different styles. I want to ensure we have a space for the community to share with us what they want to see happen and we uphold that.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

The approach of this will need to ensure that the commission has many ways for the public to give input. Hosting meetings across the city, allowing for online communication, and written correspondence are a few ways that we must ensure are available. The commission needs to understand that we will all have individual feelings and no one opinion is more important than the others and that the majority voice of the community is what must be adhered to.

We have seen a lot of topics of possible changes surface. All of these are up for discussion. The primary changes that must happen are ensuring equity in the charter as well as amending a few areas that need to be updated to maintain a legal nature. The rest really isn't up to me, personally. My role will be to assist the community in coming to agreement on what should change and how.

Jason Wilkes

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Jason Wilkes is a program director with the Retired & Senior Volunteer Programs of Ingham, Eaton & Clinton Counties. He also serves as vice-chair of the City of Lansing Board of Public Service.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

Decision was based on concern for the City of Lansing and the direction is has been going. As a facilitator for Rejuvenating South Lansing we dig into may areas of concern that residents have. With being a neighborhood leader for over 20 years and listening to the concerns of residents during that time, I can use that experience to collaborate with residents to plan the best path forward for Lansing.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

Review it piece by piece, educate others on the Charter and ask for their input. Balance it with the over 30 years of service to this community and determine what is the best path to take. Listening and collaboration are two things not happening enough.

I have not been campaigning because I would have to step down from my position from the Board of Public Service and I have a passion for that position. There are too many people who bounce from position to position to put that on a resume. I generally dislike those kind of people and do not want to be seen as one of them.

Erica Lynn

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Erica Lynn is a senior project coordinator at the Michigan Public Health Institute, co-founder of The Village Lansing, and co-host of Merica 20 to Life. Lynn is part of the Lansing Community Alliance.

Editor's Note: Lynn submitted her response after initial publication.

Why are you running for the Lansing City Charter Commission?

I very strongly and publicly advocated for, and organized around passing the charter review ballot initiative. Much of the work that I do in our community focuses on going upstream and addressing root causes to the issues that we are seeking solutions to, emphasizing proactive, strategic, and intentional approaches to problem-solving. I am running for the Commission to contribute my professional and community experience and passion for fostering community resilience, to ensure that our city's foundational document reflects the diverse needs and aspirations of our city, and all residents, in an impactful and sustainable way. I believe this will strengthen the foundation of our community for generations to come.

How would you approach the review of the city charter? Are there any changes that should be made to the charter?

I am committed to continuing to garner insight and feedback from our community to integrate into, and enhance my priority areas. My key focuses are: Ensuring equitable distribution of power between the city council and administration, through checks and balances to prevent an imbalance of power. Measures to enhance transparency in decision-making processes of city boards and commissions, and inclusive representation to reflect the diverse needs and voices of the community. Clear accountability mechanisms for both the city council and administration to ensure responsiveness to community needs and adherence to ethical standards. Weaving an equity framework into the city charter to guide policymaking and resource allocation, prioritizing equitable distribution of resources and opportunities across neighborhoods and demographics.

Jody Washington

Jody Washington photo
Scott Pohl
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WKAR

Jody Washington represented Ward 1 on the Lansing City Council for two terms until she lost a re-election bid in 2019. She works for the Michigan Department of Corrections. Her son, Adam Hussain, currently represents Ward 3 on the council.

Washington did not respond to multiple requests to answer our questions.

Keith Williams

Keith Williams is a management consultant with Pondera Advisors. He previously directed the Michigan State University Alumni office. Williams has been endorsed by the Lansing Regional Chamber PAC.

Williams did not respond to multiple requests to answer our questions.

Miranda Swartz

Miranda Swartz is a member of IBEW Local 665. Swartz has been endorsed by the Lansing Regional Chamber PAC.

Swartz did not respond to multiple requests to answer our questions.

Simon Terhaar

Simon Terhaar works for an insurance company and has volunteered at multiple community events. He describes himself as an advocate for affordable housing.

Terhaar declined to respond to WKAR’s questions, stating that he’s not actively campaigning and is working to support other candidates in the race.

Justin Sheehan

Justin Sheehan is executive director of Lansing Promise. He has a background providing legal services, including in a leadership role at Michigan Community Resources.

Sheehan did not respond to multiple requests to answer our questions.

Douglas VanBuren Mulkey

Douglas VanBuren Mulkey is general manager at The People’s Kitchen.

Mulkey did not respond to multiple requests to answer our questions.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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