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Wednesday, July 27,2011

Meet the Candidates

by City Pulse Staff

On Tuesday, Lansing residents will vote in the City
Council primary election. The 1st Ward, 3rd Ward and two At-Large seats
are up for re-election this year, though the 3rd Ward race will not be
on Tuesday’s ballot because only two candidates are in the field —
incumbent A’Lynne Robinson and Jason Wilkes. They will square off in the
Nov. 8 General Election.


The top two vote-getters in the 1st Ward race and the top
four in the At-Large race also will advance to the Nov. 8 General
Election. Last month, City Pulse asked candidates to complete a
questionnaire to get their thoughts on relevant issues pertaining to
Council business over the last year. All candidates responded. City
Pulse requested answers be 50 words or less. Responses were not edited
or condensed. 


To hear the candidates’ views, tune in to the July 20 and
27 podcasts of “City Pulse on the Air” at www.lansingcitypulse.com


At-Large


At-Large candidates were asked:


1. How do you envision medical marijuana dispensary regulations?


2. Do you think it was appropriate for
the City Council to attempt to block the Market Place redevelopment
because of labor negotiations?


3. What would you like to see happen to the former Red Cedar and Waverly golf courses?


4. How would you improve the Michigan Avenue and Saginaw Street corridors?


5. Are you satisfied with the fiscal year 2012 budget City Council passed?


6. Do you support a property tax increase on city residents to help pay for public safety services?




John Krohn


Age: 30; Education: Stockbridge High School (1999), Michigan State University (2010); Occupation: Full-time  AmeriCorps position at the Ingham County Family Center in southwest Lansing (4H Youth Garden Coordinator)  and owner of Lower Peninsula Recordings.



1. It’s disingenuous of us to claim to encourage small
business growth, then hide these businesses away in industrial zones.
Let’s get dispensaries licensed and paying taxes, and the market will
eventually take care of their density and distribution. Let’s also give
our kids something better to do than smoke pot.




2. Absolutely not. The Marketplace
redevelopment is a good project that will increase population density
downtown, draw attention to the riverfront, and add to the growing sense
of momentum in Lansing. Workers have the right to bargain collectively,
not to block non-union contracts through influential PAC contributions.
Unions bought that vote.




3. I was severely disappointed that Carol Wood and Derrick
Quinney voted against letting voters decide on the sale of these
properties. Pat Lindemann’s plan is a great example of business and
environmental interests working together for the common good. Waverly
could be privately managed as green space by a non-profit.




4. East Michigan Avenue is doing well and doesn’t need too
much more public investment. Saginaw, Cedar, and MLK need smart
incentives to encourage the right kind of growth. Not fast food and
check cashing stores, but locally owned shops with proximity to the
sidewalk, fostering healthy behavior and community pride.




5. Yes, police and fire departments have been spared major
cuts up until now, but their time has come. Shrinking the budget is
difficult, but increasing taxes on citizens who are already struggling
is the wrong solution. Instead, increase home ownership and give people
opportunity, to stop crime before it starts.




6. No, I voted against the recent millage. It’s a tough
situation, but they could and should save many jobs and show their
dedication to serving the citizens of Lansing by renegotiating their
contracts. They are paid well for what they do, which is statistically
safer than trash collection or construction.




Rory Neuner


Age: 31; Education: Haslett High School (1998), Yale
University (2003), University of Chicago (2008); Occupation: Project
Coordinator for the Transportation for Michigan Coalition. 




1. Medical marijuana dispensaries need to meet standards
similar of what we require of other business, including zoning
regulations and health and safety standards. I’d like to see them
buffered from schools and churches. As with any of kind of business, I’d
like to see our zoning and development regulations encourage mixed use.
We don’t need 18 of any kind of business on Michigan Avenue. 




2. No. I was disappointed with the quality of leadership
we saw on that issue. It’s not fair to labor or the business community
to apply PLAs on an ad hoc basis. If elected, I’d partner with labor and
business to create a pro-active policy on PLAs and local hiring
standards for publicly-funded projects.




3. I’d like to see the proposed Red Cedar development move
forward. Either we can remediate the serious stormwater issues at the
Montgomery Drain, or the federal government will force us to do it.  I see an opportunity to create a gateway to Lansing from East Lansing and the MSU campus. 




4. Both corridors have tremendous potential. Let’s support
the work of both Corridor Improvement Authorities. On Saginaw, the City
needs to continue to partner with MDOT to find ways to improve
pedestrian safety. On Michigan Ave, let’s continue to explore enhanced
transit service and find ways to improve the streetscape aesthetics.




5. No. I’m concerned about the layoffs to our Police force
and about the reduction in the number of code compliance officers. If
elected I will address budget issues quickly and communicate more
effectively with the public. We cannot wait until May to start asking
the administration questions about the budget or engaging with the
community.




6. I supported the May millage. I sit on the City’s Public
Service Board -- the severity of our budget situation means we are not
adequately maintaining basic infrastructure like streets and sewers. How
are we to attract residents and business if we aren’t willing to invest
in basic, vital services? 




Derrick Quinney


Age: 56; Education: Harry Hill High
School (1973); Occupation: Director of Health and Safety Michigan
AFL-CIO, Lansing City Council member At-Large.




1. I look forward to working with the Public Safety
committee and putting an ordinance in place that allows the city to both
monitor and ensure safe use of these facilities for all of our
community members. We need to respect the will of the 67% of Michigan
voters who passed Medical Marijuana into law while improving upon the
vague standards and regulations set out by the state law.




2. As a city council member my first
priority is the quality of life of my constituents. When we have an
opportunity like the Marketplace project to provide job creation
opportunities for our local residents we need to make sure those jobs
stay here. Especially, when developers are receiving tax payer
subsidies. When local residents receive good paying wages that money
gets reinvested into our community through taxes, homeownership, public
schools, shopping, dinning out, that ultimately contribute to fostering a
vibrant downtown and supporting many of our popular public services.




3. First of all I would’ve liked to see them remain golf
courses. However, in light of recent events I realize that is no longer
feasible. I am excited to see that the Red Cedar property is going to be
used to address environmental issues that have been neglected for quite
some time.


The issue at hand is whether or not the sale of these
properties should be placed before the voters in November. I know how
passionate residents of the city are when it comes to protecting our
natural resources and parkland. I want to have the most information
available to me before making any kind of decision that could result in a
sale of our land. While the development of these properties may be in
the near future we need all of the facts at hand in order to move
forward and make a proper decision in a transparent fashion.




4. I believe the corridor improvements are essential to
reviving the city. I support many of the proposed changes outlined in
the city’s master plan. Right now it calls for a lane reduction on
Saginaw and increased rapid transit and pedestrian friendly design on
Michigan Avenue. Along with improved streetscapes and bike lanes.


That being said, Michigan and Saginaw are not the only
vital corridors in this city. We need to look seriously at improving our
South Lansing corridors such as MLK, Cedar St., and Pennsylvania Ave.
The development of South Lansing is also essential in creating a city
that is attractive to all of its residents.




5. I don’t think anyone who took the vote on the budget
was completely satisfied. This year brought a host of budgetary
challenges that along with the cuts to revenue sharing made it
increasingly difficult to balance. I am particularly concerned about how
the ramifications of these cuts effect our public safety especially in
this tough economic environment. I am always looking into ways we can
save the tax payers’ money and welcome the views and opinions of all
stakeholders.




6. The residents of the City of Lansing expressed their
opinion relating to taxes in the millage vote last spring. I support the
will of the people and respect their decision.




Thomas Stewart


Age: 29; Education: Bath High School (2000), Michigan State University (2005); Occupation: CEO of Common Wealth Enterprises.




1. We need to write an appropriate ordinance that reflects
our community’s needs. Personally, I think we can handle this very
similarly to how we regulate liquor. We can require and limit licensing,
restrict how close they can be to churches, community centers, schools,
each other, etc., conduct criminal background checks, disallow use on
premises, put an end to loitering, and possibly explore restricted
zoning. 




2. No. I think unnecessary regulations make it harder for
businesses to want to come to our region. I strongly believe in paying a
livable wage far above minimum wage, but our businesses and the
development of Lansing is best served when businesses, within the bounds
of the law, have the freedom to choose who to hire and for how much
and, generally, to operate the way management sees fit.




3. I’d like to see the majority of the
land of these two golf courses continue to be used as green spaces for
the public. They’re a huge asset to our community and I think it’s a
shame that they’ve fallen into disrepair. I remain open about their sale
to developers as long as part of the development agreement is that they
keep a greater part of the land as parks. It would be great to see
collaboration between MSU Fisheries and Wildlife Division, Michigan’s
Department of Natural Resources, a developer, and the City of Lansing
that combined education and leisure.




4. I think it all starts with open communication with the
local neighborhoods that these corridors directly affect. From there we
can more readily assess the community’s needs and aspirations for the
area. A lot of these things are already beginning to happen, I just
think the city needs to take a more active role in facilitating these
discussions and preparing to help provide what assistance they can. 



5. No. Though, I don’t think anyone is
satisfied when a budget includes layoffs. I would’ve liked to see the
City Council work more directly with city department heads to gather
detailed suggestions for ways each department could save money. I think
we also need to be more open to working with neighboring municipalities
to share services instead of fighting over limited tax dollars. 




6. Yes. I believe providing quality public safety is one
of the core services a city government is supposed to provide and you
can’t do that very well when you’re faced with shrinking tax revenues. I
would rather err on the side of caution and keep police and fire jobs.
Then, we could continue to negotiate contracts and find other ways to
save and raise money while hopefully lowering the property tax burden
over time.




Carol Wood


Age: 61; Education: J.W. Sexton High School (1968); Occupation: CEW Consultant LLC and Lansing City Council




1. Regulations that allow patients &
caregivers to have safe environment without negatively impacting the
supporting community.


H & I Industrial  Zoning
Limit the number caregivers at dispensaries
Prohibit dispensaries & growing same location
Cap the number of licenses
Background checks
No consumption on premises 



2. Mr. Gillespie stated before Council he understood the
project when approved was HIS RESPONSIBILITY BEFORE closing to make sure
all incentives were in place or not close. Mr. Trezise stated approving
the agreement was not approval of incentives.  Based numerous issues including promises to labor not fulfilled, I voted no.


3. Park land part of the heritage of our community is.


We should preserve it.Quality of life issue.  


Unable to reopen for golf re-purpose the parks for recreational activities.  


Mr. Lindemann should continue environmental clean-up with easements at the Red Cedar much like he did with Groesbeck.


4. By creating a sense of place and improving the corridors one store at a time.  Old Town did not evolve overnight nor can these corridors.  Michigan Avenue has a great support base and many resources with unique neighborhoods working with the businesses.  Saginaw Corridor has is working to develop its own structure. 




5. No.  There were opportunities to make budget cuts that would have save police, fire, and code compliance employees; was not done.  With
the importance of this budget there were no Committee meeting where
Council could question Department Heads in reviewing the budget;
allowing for the interaction between other Council members and the
Directors.  



6. It would depend on the proposal. If explained properly
and assured that tax increase would pay for the salaries for public
safety, but it would be essential that cuts were made as well, such as
the rental of two precincts at $530,000 a year.




1st Ward


First Ward candidates were asked:


1. Do you believe medical marijuana dispensaries have had a positive or a negative impact on the 1st Ward?


2. Do you think it was appropriate for
the City Council to attempt to block the Market Place redevelopment
because of labor negotiations?


3. What would you like to see happen, if anything, at the former Red Cedar Golf Course?


4. What kind of improvements, if any, does the city need to make to the Michigan Avenue corridor?


5. Are you satisfied with the fiscal year 2012 budget City Council passed?


6. How did you vote in the May 3 election that asked voters for a 4-mill property tax increase and why?




Philip Damico


Age: 36; Education: (did not respond); Occupation: Laboratory Technician at Sparrow Hospital. 




1. I support medicinal marijuana, but we have to many on Michigan Ave.




2. Yes




3. A plan presented to the public, an assessment – more detailed.




4. More diversity of businesses – more fairs, arts fests




5. No




6. Didn’t vote and would of voted no




Harold Leeman


Age: 53; Education: Lansing Eastern (1975), Michigan State University (1981); Occupation: Owner, Leeman Consulting Services. 




1. They have had both a positive and a negative impact in
the 1st Ward. I’m willing to work with all parties to make it positive.




2. The “City Council” has a role to play when it comes to redevelopment of city property — taxpayers’ property!




3. It should not of closed in 2008 without a “plan,” and a
buy in by the Council and the taxpayers for future redevelopment. Many
city of Lansing residents are pist about it.




4. I, along with Eastside Commercial Club and mayors
Benavides and Bernero got the historical lighting put in, in 2006, and
it has helped the area! It needs road repaving, sidewalks repaved, bus
buy in.




5. No! – July 1 2011 – June 30 2012




6. Yes! If not, the city would have to make cuts to police
and fire. I would of voted for the mill increase, if I were on Council!




Joe Manzella


Age: 25; Education: Eisenhower High School, Michigan
State University (2008 and current); Occupation: Manager of Regional
Programs, Lansing Economic Area Partnership.



1. Some have and some have not had a negative impact.  The more respectable-looking establishments don’t seem to bother people as much as the messy-looking ones.  Business
owners could do a lot for their stature in the community by taking care
of their storefronts and playing it cool about what they do.



2. No.  This was a conflict between two private parties – a developer and organized labor.  I am still puzzled why the council had to get involved and play judge.  It’s
in the city’s interest to have these two parties come to an amicable
decision on their own – council should have helped facilitate that
rather than jump into the middle of it.  



3. I think the entire Frandor area is ripe for transformation.  I
hope the property owners, Drain Commissioner, Land Bank, Lansing,
Lansing Twp, and East Lansing can navigate the regulatory and political
morass to reinvigorate this important gateway to Lansing. 



4. Michigan Avenue and Grand River Avenue is the only thoroughfare worthy of advanced transit like Bus-Rapid Transit.  This type of investment is important to helping Lansing win the future.  Cities
across the nation are making these investments, so it’s not a question
of Lansing pulling ahead of the pack, but making sure we don’t fall
further behind. 



5. No.  The cuts to core services threaten the reasons I chose to live in a city.  I like good roads, decent public spaces, safe streets, and quick fire response – with those things, you get what you pay for. 



6. My personal vote was the lesser of two
evils – I voted in favor after councilmembers made crystal clear their
intention to use those funds for those core services.  The
confusing nature of property taxes – made more so by Headley and Prop A
– make this an issue that should have had much more coverage and public
discussion.




Lynne Martinez


Age: 63; Education: Ladywood High School (1966), North
Eastern Illinois University (1981); Occupation: Owner/ Principal,
Martinez Consulting Group.




1. While I support patient access to Medical Marijuana, I
think the heavy concentration of dispensaries on Michigan Avenue is
having a negative impact and creating community discord and concern.




2. Council had an existing agreement supporting the Marketplace development.  It was not appropriate for Council to attempt to impose new conditions on that agreement.  Council
has the right to ask Labor and the Developer to negotiate PLA. They
should have more actively facilitated agreement and should develop clear
policy.




3. I support the proposal authorizing
sale of 12 acres of the Red Cedar Golf Course, offer it for sale at
market price to a developer who would create a mixed use development
approved by Council, using proceeds of the sale to create a 49 acre park
/ surface water control project.




4. The draft Lansing Master Plan recommends improving
existing structures along Michigan Avenue and creating nodes of higher
density mixed use development, combined with road and transit
improvements.  Local
governments created the a Corridor Authority to oversee development.
Overlay District zoning allows higher density and mixed use.  I support this framework. 




5. No. Council could have levied additional millage or better advocated for the millage they placed it on the ballot.  It
is not acceptable that we are laying off so many police and fire
responders, reducing code enforcement and have no funds for repair of
City roads and streets.




6. I worked for and voted for the 4 mill property tax
because public safety, code enforcement and safe, drivable, walkable,
bikeable roads are critical quality of life factors for Lansing or any
city.




Jody Washington


Age: 54; Education: Eastern High School; Occupation: Grievance Specialist,  Michigan Department of Corrections (full time) and Nursing Assistant, Pines Health Care Center (part time). 



1. The majority of the dispensaries are in the 1st ward.  Because of the clustering and number of dispensaries, I think they have had a negative impact.  I believe we need a cap, they need to be spread out through the city. And there must be some regulation and oversight.  




2. Because the courts had stated labor issues could not be
used to determine incentives, I think it was inappropriate to attempt
to block the development.  However, if there were other issues beyond the PLA, I do not have enough information to comment intelligently.




3. I have seen the proposed presentation three times.  I like the idea of selling the 12-13 acres and providing housing, retail, and some park land.  The city would need to be pro-active and involved in the project to ensure it is what the public envisions and desires.




4. We need to take a serious look at the store fronts,
ensure there is mixed use on the avenue, and engage in meaningful
development so that we can have a vibrant corridor to the capitol of
Michigan.  We need a clean up and the rain gardens need attention.  This should be one of the gems of the city.




5. We had a perfect storm--state revenue
sharing cut-backs, early retirements that lessened income tax revenue,
property values dropped lessening property tax revenue, and the overall
fear of consumers.  All this, combined with the millage vote, I think they did the best they could.  The next budget needs to be reviewed immediately.  The council needs be pro-active and visionary, so we don’t have another last-minute scramble.




6. I voted yes.  I understand why some would not, but I realize these are critical times and our city needs more revenue. 

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