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East Lansing kickstarts process to review city charter

City of East Lansing
Councilmembers voted unanimously to authorize a review of the city charter, which defines the structure of East Lansing's government.

The East Lansing City Council is kickstarting plans that could reshape the city’s government.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday to establish a committee that will review the city's governing rules and propose changes. Those amendments can range from minor grammatical revisions to shifting election dates or how the city government is structured.

East Lansing City Councilmember Mark Meadows introduced the measure, saying the committee will allow for a robust community engagement process that residents are eager to weigh in on.

“It's really important for us to engage the public and get applications from people who want to serve," Meadows said. "I think there's enough interest in the community that we're likely to get a whole bunch.”

East Lansing's charter was last reviewed in 1997 through a committee that included both Meadows and current Mayor George Brookover. The document has been amended multiple times since then.

Several residents had asked for a charter review at the end of 2023. Three charter amendments came before voters last year that proposed the city adjust the council's swearing-in date, increase the size of the council and support ranked-choice voting. Voters only adopted the ranked-choice voting proposal.

Meadows said the committee could consider those rejected measures and other charter amendment plans.

City Councilmember Dana Watson said she wants the board to consider a variety of perspectives.

“We have to make space in our decisions for representation of multiple types of voices. And so I hope to see that,” Watson said.

The city joins neighboring Lansing in authorizing a charter review. The Capital City elected nine members to its commission last week.

Next on the East Lansing City Council's agenda is to appoint seven members to the charter review committee. Any changes the group recommends will ultimately need final approval from East Lansing voters.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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