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Tuesday, August 4,2009

CITY COUNCIL

candidates

by Neal McNamara


City Pulse asked each of the 15 candidates for City Council to answer four questions tailored to the ward seat they are seeking in 40 words. We also asked the candidates to come to our office to get their photos taken. Some candidates heeded our requests, some didn't - so if you see questions cut off or missing photographs, that's the reason.


AT LARGE




Kathie Dunbar (incumbent)


Would you be in favor of laying off city workers or drastically reducing city services to cure the city's structural deficit?

No. We still have time to explore creative opportunities for generating revenue and reducing operating expenses, like composting city yard waste in-house (which reduces our dumping fees) to create topsoil (which reduces construction landscape costs).

How did you vote on the sale of the North Capitol Ramp and why?
Sell. LCC has a parking deficit. Neighbors do NOT want another parking structure. A new ramp will attract customers away from our aging structure. Maintenance costs will rise as revenues drop. There’s no logical reason NOT to sell it.

Do you feel that development in downtown Lansing benefits the entire city? If yes, how?

We’ve had significant development all over Lansing – it’s just more noticeable downtown. Development creates jobs, repurposes obsolete properties, and expands our tax base. More revenue means more police, fire, and public services … for everyone.


How would you propose the city fix its aging infrastructure, most notably its streets?
We’ve increased dependence on cars while decreasing funding for roads. Maybe it’s time to consider that the answer to our pothole problem isn’t more tar – it’s less rubber. Reduce road wear by expanding freight rail, mass transit, and walk/bike options.



Brian Jeffries (incumbent)


Would you be in favor of laying off city workers or drastically reducing city services to cure the city's structural deficit?

Favor neither. Since I have been on Council, City has eliminated approximately 190 positions and severely reduced services to address structural deficit. Police and Fire held harmless. Without increase in revenue (tax increase or change in economy), trend will continue.

How did you vote on the sale of the North Capitol Ramp and why?

Supported sale, although poor deal for City. Without sale, Lansing Community College would build new parking ramp adjacent to surrounding neighborhood. Neighborhood concerns regarding negative impact ramp would have on quality of life and property values directed my decision.

Do you feel that development in downtown Lansing benefits the entire city? If yes, how?
Somewhat. No doubt major focus of City has been on downtown development. Greater benefit for the region. We need same effort and resources directed toward all neighborhoods to retain who and what we have, and to grow the entire City.

How would you propose the city fix its aging infrastructure, most notably its streets?
Do not support general increase in property taxes to fund repairs. Would consider voter approved millage increase for specific purpose and period of time. Example, complete road repair program fully funded over a 5 to 10 year period of time.



Harold Leeman Jr.


Would you be in favor of laying off city workers or drastically reducing city services to cure the city’s structural deficit?



No.

If you were on the City Council during the time it was deciding whether to sell the North Capitol Ramp, how would you have voted and why?

I would have voted to sell. Ramp is over 30 years old, LCC is the willing and a great partner in downtown Lansing since 1957. The neighborhood supported the sale.

Do you feel that development in downtown Lansing benefits the entire city? If yes, how?

Yes. From LCC to Cooley law to Oldsmobile Park to all the living units that have come about over the last 12 years are great There’s always a balance needed to show you care about the entire city.

How would you propose the city fix its aging infrastructure, most notably its streets?
The city has rebuilt the sewer system along with the roads in Wards 1 and 4 over the past 15 years and will contiue. I’m willing to support a Road Bond to do more roads over 10 years.




Shelton Phillips


Would you be in favor of laying off city workers or drastically reducing city services to cure the city's structural deficit?

I don’t think laying off city workers would ease city problems. Cutting back would help the city deficit. People need to work some times for less. Less is More until things get better!!

How did you vote on the sale of the North Capitol Ramp and why?
I would have voted to sell the North capitol Ramp to generate 2.7 million dollars to be in the City Reserve Fund. The city needs money badly, no time to turn down good deals.

Do you feel that development in downtown Lansing benefits the entire city? If yes, how?
Yes, because people are hungry to something to do, even though these are hard times. Plus the city could use extra tax money. Downtown Lansing is growing and I am a strong candidate for change.

How would you propose the city fix its aging infrastructure, most notably its streets?

I would propose weighing all options to fix the aging infrastructure to the streets and city better. Complete negotiations for the bettermenet of the people of Lansing East Lansing and the tricounty area. “Fix THE Problem CORRECtly!





Rina Risper


Would you be in favor of laying off city workers or drastically reducing city services to cure the city's structural deficit?

I’m in favor of exploring cost saving measures and revenue enhancements, as a way of saving money and hopefully avoiding layoffs. If layoffs were inevitable, I’d work to minimize the adverse impact on personnel.

How did you vote on the sale of the North Capitol Ramp and why?

Even though I don't have all the information available, it's my understanding that the ramp is projected to earn $1,000,000 and operational expenses of approximately $400,000 for 2010. The Parking System also has $10 million in reserves to make repairs.

Do you feel that development in downtown Lansing benefits the entire city? If yes, how?

Development in downtown Lansing can benefit Lansing, if properties remain on our tax rolls, local labor for construction is hired, and employees purchase homes in the city. This issue requires our commitment to creating cohesion and exploring citywide development.

How would you propose the city fix its aging infrastructure, most notably its streets?
I'd contact MDOT's University Region TSC to find fund sources, which may include the Michigan Transportation Fund. We also have the option of establishing millages for road projects, and/or issuing bonds or some other debt method.




FOURTH WARD



Dennis Burdick


Do you think that Saginaw Street and Oakland Avenue should be turned two-way and made more pedestrian friendly? If so, why?

All streets in Lansing should be returned to two- way to assist with congestion. This would assist pedestrians, especially children, knowing that all the streets are the same, and they should look both ways before crossing.

How would you go about linking downtown Lansing with Old Town?


Linking these business districts could be accomplished by rezoning specific areas near the Grand River. I would work with the First Ward council person and Chamber of commerce proposals on accomplishing the linkage.

What would you like to see done with the money being generated by the tax increment financing district that covers most of downtown Lansing?


Assist in eliminating the City of Lansing’s income tax reduce mileage’s impact on property taxes, return the Rain Water assessments to the tax payer, and then reduce other tax burdens for Lansing people and business.


If you were on the City council during the time it was deciding whether to sell the north Capitol Ramp, how would you have voted and why?


My vote would have been for selling the parking ramp to Lansing community College. Having the space for more students to park would have brought more business to downtown. Every day it was delayed, was a day of missed business.




Chris Lewless


Do you think that Saginaw Street and Oakland Avenue should be turned two-way and made more pedestrian friendly? If so, why?

Yes, I do believe that the corridor would benefit from being a two-way street. Local businesses favor the change, and increasing foot traffic through the area will allow for better “branding” of the neighborhood and help spur development.

How would you go about linking downtown Lansing with Old Town?

Old Town has an active business association and is a major entertainment destination. Initially, I would like the EL/Downtown Trolley to pass through Old Town, and then eventually connect Old Town, downtown, and East Lansing with a light rail system.

What would you like to see done with the money being generated by the tax increment financing district that covers most of downtown Lansing?

I would like to see the beginning of a transit system to connect East Lansing, Old Town, and downtown Lansing. Other urban areas experience increased development around transit hubs, and Lansing can lead the region into the future through transit.

If you were on the City council during the time it was deciding whether to sell the north Capitol Ramp, how would you have voted and why?


While I would have voted to sell the ramp, I do not believe that the public has been fully informed of the sale’s effect on both the structural deficit (through increased department rents) or the city’s plan for parking.



Cynthia Redman


Do you think that Saginaw Street and Oakland Avenue should be turned two-way and made more pedestrian friendly? If so, why?

This is a state issue, not a city one. However, most of the complaints I have heard are from businesses, not pedestrians. Enforcement of existing rules will make these roads safer for all.

How would you go about linking downtown Lansing with Old Town?

Each of these areas is unique unto themselves and I would be concerned that "linking" them may take away from some of that. Would consider a walk bridge over Saginaw and Oakland streets to make them easier to get to.

What would you like to see done with the money being generated by the tax increment financing district that covers most of downtown Lansing?

Would like to see more businesses in downtown (entertainment-orientated) so adding more law enforcement would be one thing to look at.

If you were on the City council during the time it was deciding whether to sell the north Capitol Ramp, how would you have voted and why?

I have been very vocal regarding the ramp sale. I was in favor of it because the city needs the money, LCC needs the parking space and would have been responsible for maintaining it, saving the city even more.




Tom Truscott


Do you think that Saginaw Street and Oakland Avenue should be turned two-way and made more pedestrian friendly? If so, why?

I believe Saginaw and Oakland should remain one way. They are Business 69 (Federal highway) and State 43 (State Highway), the main east/west routes connecting 96 to 69 and the northern entrance/exits to downtown Lansing and Old Town.

How would you go about linking downtown Lansing with Old Town?


Old Town is a valuable historical and cultural destination center. I would like to see a permanent trolley (CATA) take people to and from Old Town and also to other historic and culture sites.

What would you like to see done with the money being generated by the tax increment financing district that covers most of downtown Lansing?


I would use it to continue and promote the economic development of downtown, such as encouraging retail shops, turn the Knapp’s Building into a performing arts center. I would focus on projects that produce jobs and revenue.

If you were on the City council during the time it was deciding whether to sell the north Capitol Ramp, how would you have voted and why?


I would have voted yes to the sale of the North Capitol Ramp, thus putting 2.7 million dollars into the taxpayer’s city treasury which would have resulted in not having to borrow $800,000 from the city’s taxpayer’s savings account.




Jessica Yorko


Do you think that Saginaw Street and Oakland Avenue should be turned two-way and made more pedestrian friendly? If so, why?

While I’d love to see Saginaw and Oakland as two-ways, last year’s study showed it would create too much congestion. The recommendation of a road-diet with bike lanes and pedestrian friendly features will improve the business and residential areas significantly.

How would you go about linking downtown Lansing with Old Town?


Wayfinding signs and better pedestrian and bicycle connectivity, particularly at Saginaw and Oakland, using better crosswalks, welcome signs, kiosks, more clearly marked entrances to and maps of the River Trail on both ends.

What would you like to see done with the money being generated by the tax increment financing district that covers most of downtown Lansing?

The downtown TIF needs to keep paying down its debts. I’d like to look for ways to encourage taxable entities to purchase downtown property, without discouraging redevelopment. With more revenue, it would be great to consider a Performing Arts Center.

If you were on the City council during the time it was deciding whether to sell the north Capitol Ramp, how would you have voted and why?


I would have voted to sell the ramp. The price offered by LCC was fair. Now LCC will have to build it’s own ramp, with an underused city ramp next door. This isn’t fair to the neighbors, city, or LCC.



SECOND WARD



Sandy Allen (incumbent)


Many of the commercial zones along Pennsylvania Avenue, Cedar Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard are economically depressed and littered with abandoned buildings. How would you revive these areas?

I am considering an ordinance which would require a property which has been abandoned for a certain period of time to be razed. Parties entrusted in redeveloping these building should be given incentives or tax breaks.


How did you vote on the sale of the North Capitol Ramp and why?

I voted to sell N. Capitol Ramp. It is an aging structure requiring much renovation. LCC will build a new ramp close to ours. Guess where people will park. Economically, selling would have been the wise thing to do.


Would you be in favor of installing more Police Department surveillance cameras in the Second Ward? If so, why?

I believe we have a sufficient number of surveillance cameras in the Second Ward. They are expensive, and we are still compiling data on their effectiveness.

Would you be in favor of adding bike lanes to streets in the Second Ward? If so, why?

Yes, It is becoming an optional means of transportation, economically, environmentally, and infrastructurally (if there is such a word).


Bryan Decker

Many of the commercial zones along Pennsylvania Avenue, Cedar Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard are economically depressed and littered with abandoned buildings. How would you revive these areas?

Give tax incentives, city sponsored low loans, prepare individuals to become local business owners and prepare them to be successful.

If you were on the City Council during the time it was deciding whether to sell the North Capitol Ramp, how would you have voted and why?


I would voted to sell the ramp. LCC has been very good to the community. LCC had offered a faire market value. LCC would repaired the ramp. I would make sure the city workers would still have jobs.


Would you be in favor of installing more Police Department surveillance cameras in the Second Ward? If so, why?

If LPD says we need more cameras and they must be monitor 24-7. Cameras are very important tool to fight crime. I would preferred more community officers.

Would you be in favor of adding bike lanes to streets in the Second Ward? If so, why?


Yes, bike lanes is safest way for bikers to get around the neighborhoods. Miller road has a bike lane. It also tells the bikers we really care for their welfare.



Jimmie Currin Sr.

Many of the commercial zones along Pennsylvania Avenue, Cedar Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard are economically depressed and littered with abandoned buildings. How would you revive these areas?

Have Property Owners-clean them up! Not board them up and walk away. If Property owner (home and commecial) refuses then city steps in and changes property owner, I’d like to see properities maintaind like I keep my property

If you were on the City Council during the time it was deciding whether to sell the North Capitol Ramp, how would you have voted and why?


No way-the only thing the cement administration knows is sell-sell-sell. If they keep going the way they are Lansing won’t own anything and will still be broke.

Would you be in favor of installing more Police Department surveillance cameras in the Second Ward? If so, why?

No-these cameras are a Joke!

Would you be in favor of adding bike lanes to streets in the Second Ward? If so, why?


No! we have sidewalks and People will not use them- today they seem to think there suppose to walk down the middle of the street




Tina Houghton


Many of the commercial zones along Pennsylvania Avenue, Cedar Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard are economically depressed and littered with abandoned buildings. How would you revive these areas?

We need to rehabilitate our neighborhoods and businesses for a 21st Century economy. The City needs
to provide the necessary public services to these businesses and promote policies to use local businesses.

If you were on the City Council during the time it was deciding whether to sell the North Capitol Ramp, how would you have voted and why?


I would have voted to get the best deal possible for Lansing's residents and sell the ramp. We need to look at all possible measures to maximize city resources to provide high-quality city services.

Would you be in favor of installing more Police Department surveillance cameras in the Second Ward? If so, why?


Without top-quality public safety, our community will never prosper. All options need to be on the table and we need to use evidence-based evaluations to distribute public safety resources to protect families and businesses.

Would you be in favor of adding bike lanes to streets in the Second Ward? If so, why?

A walkable/bikeable community is always a positive attribute for a neighborhood. Despite our budget constraints, we need to do everything we can to improve the health and safety of our neighborhoods.




Jonathan Solis


Many of the commercial zones along Pennsylvania Avenue, Cedar Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard are economically depressed and littered with abandoned buildings. How would you revive these areas?

I would like to implement my ideas to create jobs and improve infrastructure for Lansing. Such as working with other cities, improving public transit, strengthening the Lansing Airport, offering and lowing tax breaks, finding new revenue sources, offering tax cuts

If you were on the City Council during the time it was deciding whether to sell the North Capitol Ramp, how would you have voted and why?

I would have voted against it for three main reasons. First the revenue the North Capitol Ramp brings into the City coffin every year compare to not having this source of income. Second, the amount of the selling price was

Would you be in favor of installing more Police Department surveillance cameras in the Second Ward? If so, why?

No, I will not be in favor of installing police surveillance in the Second Ward. I would like to see more community policing in the 2nd Ward which has a direct and positive effect compare to surveillance cameras.

Would you be in favor of adding bike lanes to streets in the Second Ward? If so, why?

Yes, I am in favor in adding bike lines in the Second Ward. By adding bike lines we can increase the health of Lansing residents, protect residents that ride their bikes in the streets, and help reduce pollution.


























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