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Wednesday, August 1,2012

City Pulse endorsements

Herewith, City Pulse offers its views on the best candidates in many of the competitive races in Tuesday’s primary election. Most of these are in Democratic races, in light of the non-competitive GOP elections or the views of candidates in those rac

by City Pulse

Drain Commissioner

Incumbent Pat Lindemann is not a perfect public official.

The gregarious incumbent intermingles his personal and professional life more freely than appropriate, as proven by his request that county inmates dump some mulch at his house and “spread it around.” His hiring practices and awarding of contracts are suspect. These and other issues brought to our attention deserve continued monitoring by City Pulse and the public, regardless of whether it’s an election year.

But, in the end, “Who would do the best job as Ingham County’s drain commissioner?” The obvious answer is Lindemann. For as brilliant as he is, challenger Mark Grebner, a longtime county commissioner, knows admittedly nothing about the technical aspects of the job. When asked for his plan for the Montgomery Drain, he laughed off not recognizing the name, calling himself just a “civilian.” The Montgomery Drain is what needs to be fixed in order to stop the Red Cedar River’s pollution — and anyone wanting this job should know at least that much.

Grebner admits bolstering his pension is part of why he wants this job. We think it’s too big a part. He says he’d serve no more than four years, which would give him the pension boost he wants. Then Ingham County could start over again finding someone to lead this important office.

Moreover, Grebner has had more than two decades on the Board of Commissioners to raise all the issues he has raised only in this campaign. He and other elected officials have failed the public by their silence if indeed Lindemann runs his office as badly as Grebner says.

Grebner says he would be just a manager if elected and wishes the position were reduced to an administrative appointee. Michigan elects its county drain commissioners — and rightfully so. It’s the state’s only elected official who can impose a tax without a public vote. Projects from this office must promote the free movement of water without flooding. In this era in which state elected Republican officials are doing all they can to give business the freedom to further wreck our environment, being able to elect a county drain commissioner is vital to our water. And electing one with Lindemann’s vision and experience is, too, despite his imperfections.


State Representative, 67th District

In the Lansing area, we’ve been spoiled with open, reachable representation both past and present. Walt Sorg would continue in that tradition on the Democratic side. Sorg is a progressive voice with a broad vision of where this state needs to go while being realistic about what can be accomplished if the Democrats remain in the minority.

We’re convinced Sorg will go beyond being one of 40-some “no” votes on drastic Republican-pushed “reforms.” He’s committed to making alliances on the other side of the aisle and pushing for advances in such areas as alternative energy and electric cars. Recognizing the non-competitive nature of the Republican primary in the 67th and 68th, we see no reason to endorse in either.


State Representative, 68th District

Speaking of open and honest representation, we believe Andy Schor is best suited to represent Lansing and Lansing Township. 

Nearly all of his opponents have a public service track record, but Schor has distinguished himself as an independent voice with above-board character. Whether you agree with him, Schor’s positions are well reasoned and defendable.

The seemingly incorruptible Schor works well with labor, business and everybody else, for that matter, without being shamelessly in anyone’s back pocket. 

That said, we’d like to recognize Griffin Rivers. While we’ve had limited exposure to Rivers in the past, his stature within Lansing’s political community and his unique set of experiences is impressive.


State Representative, 69th District

East Lansing and Meridian Township Democrats are in a no-lose situation with Sam Singh and Susan Schmidt. However, we are endorsing Sam Singh because of his star power potential.

Even as an East Lansing City Council member at 24, Singh was politically mature for his age, resisting the pitfalls that blow up the careers of young rising stars. Singh’s yearlong, around-the-world trip speaks to this maturity, his desire for new ideas and personal growth. 

At age 41, Singh has the potential to do great things for the state and possibly the country. He’s a great face for the Democratic Party, and we want to encourage his political career.

On the Republican side, Meridian Township Supervisor Susan McGuillicuddy’s strong environmental record has resulted in smart growth for Meridian Township. These days, the Republican Party is chocked full of Tea Party butt-kissers. McGuillicuddy’s moderate streak is a refreshing reminder of what the party of Bill Milliken once looked like.


County Commissioner

Three incumbent Democratic commissioners are facing primaries because of their stands against organized labor on needed county retirement benefit changes and labor’s unreasonable standoff with Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero on the county’s mowing contract.

In these tight budget times, independent commissioners willing to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money should be rewarded, not tossed aside in favor of tools for one powerful lobby. We urge Democrats to vote for Carol Koenig in the 9th District, Brian McGrain in the 10th and Deb Nolan in the 12th.

In the 4th, we like 24-year-old Catherine Mooney’s excitement for building bridges in government. However, we support incumbent Debbie DeLeon, who has been a passionate voice for labor and minority appointments and has more than 10 years’ experience on the board. DeLeon recently had a formal ethics complaint dropped against her for her handling of Road Commission personnel issues, so we’d like her to pursue Mooney’s attitude on consensus building. And we hope this isn’t Mooney’s first run for elected office.

In the open 3rd District, long-time Virg Bernero hand Joe McDonald has been vital in assisting the mayor keep Lansing on a trajectory of growth and prosperity. We’re concerned about the loss to the city if McDonald’s time commitments are split. Sarah Anthony is a sharp candidate born and raised on Lansing’s south side. She’s worked with Rep. Joan Bauer and is active in a broad swath of community activities. We endorse Anthony in this one.

Finally, in the 14th, Tim Fischer has a wide range of experiences — from the Michigan Environmental Council to Peace Corps volunteer to being a fifth generation beekeeper. He’s serious about serving the public and representing rural Ingham community. He deserves a vote.


Ingham County Circuit Judge

Two of the five candidates will advance to the November General election. They should be Ken Ross and Jim Jamo.

Ross’ experience as state insurance commissioner and in the financial sector gives him unique experiences to assist in areas of the law where such exposure is rare. Since Ingham County Circuit Court is typically the first stop for legal action against the state, there’s comfort in knowing someone with Ross’ high competency level would be adjudicating the matter.

Ross also would be the first openly gay member of the Ingham County bench, a milestone worthy of celebration.

Jamo’s resume for this position is remarkable. The practicing attorney for 27 years, with experience throughout the legal system, Jamo’s diverse experience, fairness and even temperament makes him a favorite among active and retired judges, making him a defendable pick.


54B District Court Judge

We haven’t always agreed with retiring Judge David Jordon, but he is a good judge of character. He and other retired judges are lining up behind Andrea Larkin. We will, too.

We like Larkin’s staying power for the position. She won’t be constitutionally barred from running again after one term due to age. We believe having a woman on the district court bench adds a perspective that has been absent from 54B. This, combined with her experience in civil and criminal matters, makes her a great fit.


Ballot Proposals

Many ballot proposals will be in front of area voters, but we feel passionate enough to opine on two. The rezoning of 4133 Okemos Road in Meridian Township for physician Shannon Wiggins, unfortunately, needs to be voted down. This publication supports medical marijuana, but Wiggins is not a good face for the movement, having been punished by the state for overprescribing medication.

We also want to push the pause button on the sale of the former Waverly Golf Course property. We support the redevelopment of the site, but would like an idea of what the city has in mind for the land.

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