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Wednesday, October 23,2013

Changes in store for E.L. Council

Two four-year, one partial two-year term up for grabs on East Lansing City Council

by Andy Balaskovitz
The five-member East Lansing City Council will get at least two new members starting next year.

Two seats are up for four-year terms.

Another seat is up to complete the remaining two years of the term of Councilman Don Powers, who resigned.

All races are nonpartisan. Running for the four-year terms — incumbents Vic Loomis and Kevin Beard are not seeking reelection — are:

— Samantha Artley, 23, a 2012 Michigan State University graduate who managed 54B District Judge Andrea Larkin’s campaign last year. She works for the East Lansing firm Mitchell Research and Communications consulting on legislative issues and business marketing. Speaking with City Pulse in August, Artley said she wants the city to focus on its daytime business. “East Lansing really has developed a nightlife for the student population,” she said. “The focus should be on daytime and making a great place for businesses to start up here.”

— Ruth Baier, 52, an economist with the Michigan Education Association for the past 20 years with degrees in economics from MSU and Duke University. She has also worked as the deputy treasurer for the state. She serves on East Lansing’s Downtown Development Authority. Beier, who announced her candidacy in April, has received the endorsements of the Central Michigan Group Sierra Club, United Auto Workers Region 1-C and the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber and UAW announced similar joint endorsements for Lansing City Council candidates. “The city seems like it’s right on the cusp to becoming a vibrant small city,” Beier said in August. “And it needs people on Council who have experience and the integrity to do what’s best for the city.”

— Ben Eysselinck, 38, an implementation project manager at local software company Vertafore, who has also landed endorsements from the chamber and the UAW. He was born in Belgium. He earned a degree in political science and international relations from St. Olaf College in Minnesota before moving to East Lansing seven years ago. After working with information technology and software for the past 20 years, Eysselinck said at a candidate forum earlier this month: “It’s high time that a technologist like myself is in a position to lobby for and make decisions on situations where technology could be a good solution for us.”

— Susan Woods, 61, who is originally from California but has lived in East Lansing for 23 years. Woods founded the East Lansing Film Festival 16 years ago. Woods also received the Sierra Club endorsement. If elected, Woods wants to bring more arts programming to the community. “I think East Lansing is on a tipping point right now,” she said earlier this month. “People are moving to the downtown area. Businesses are starting to come in. I think we need to guide it into the right way.”

In the partial-term race, Kathleen Boyle, 64, is up against Joanna Bosse to retain the seat she was appointed to in September 2012. Boyle filled the seat on Council after Powers resigned. She’s an attorney with the Okemos firm White, Schneider, Young & Chiodini and has lived in East Lansing since 1985. Like Beier, she has endorsements from the Sierra Club, UAW and the chamber.

Boyle told City Pulse in August there’s “never a dull moment” since being appointed to the Council, particularly facing economic challenges.

“I feel a commitment to finish the term I was appointed to serve upon,” she said.

Bosse is a music professor at MSU specializing in the dynamics of music and dance. She has degrees from Houghton College and MSU and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. Like several other candidates during the forum this month, Bosse described East Lansing as at a “crossroads” when it comes to developing the city. (Bosse could not be reached for her age and a photo.)

“I think we can develop downtown in a way that is creative and in a way that holds developers accountable,” she said. “Our schools are good, but they could be better. And finally, East Lansing is expensive. Taxes are high and it makes it tough for retirees. We need to work in a transparent fashion so we can all understand that money is being spent in a way that articulates our values.”

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