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Candidates vying for Lansing, East Lansing council seats

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Absentee voting is already under way for candidates running for the city councils in Lansing and East Lansing. In Lansing, four are running for two at-large seats, which will go to the top two vote-getters. Two ward seats are also up. In East Lansing, six candidates are seeking three Council seats, which will go to the top three vote-getters. The election will be decided on Nov. 5, when polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

At-Large

The top two finishers will be elected.

Carol Wood — Lansing’s sitting Council president was first elected in 1999 and is running for her sixth and final term in office. At 69, she is a clear favorite, having won every precinct in the primary and 35 percent of the total vote. Wood was a strong counterweight to former Mayor Virg Bernero and continues to lead a Council bloc that forces Mayor Andy Schor to compromise on issues like marijuana regulation. Wood says she serves to give neighborhoods a voice.

Patricia Spitzley — As a first-term incumbent, Spitzley is also a favorite for re-election, but a narrower one after taking in 24 percent in August. Spitzley, 54, is an attorney for the Racer Trust, which was created out of the General Motors bankruptcy to clean up and redevelop the automotive company’s toxic assets, such as the former Fisher Body plant on the west side of the city. She has been an independent-minded swing vote.

Yanice Jackson-Long — This is Jackson-Long’s second try for the Council after not making it past the primary in 2017. The 41-year-old grew up in Lansing but worked for AT&T in Atlanta for much of her adult life. She returned several years ago to help with her family newspaper, the Chronicle-News, before taking a job with the Ingham County Treasurer. Jackson-Long is concerned about the city’s decrepit roads and limited options for youth.

Julee Rodocker — A lifelong resident, Rodocker, 49, is an electric materials purchasing agent for Consumers Energy. She ran unsuccessfully once for the Lansing School Board in 2014 and for the 2nd Ward Council seat in 2017. She serves on the Lansing Board of Police Commissioners. Rodocker wants a citywide finance audit and reforms to the pension and healthcare system for retirees.

1st Ward

Jody Washington — Washington, 62, seeks her third term. She works as a grievance and litigation specialist for the Michigan Department of Corrections and earlier worked as a nursing assistant. A lifelong Lansingite, she has long been a close ally of Wood.

Brandon Betz — Washington’s upstart challenger is an economist with the Michigan Center for Public Policy. Betz, 28, earlier worked for the Anderson Economic Research Group. He was born in Alaska and came to Lansing in 2017 to work for the state of Michigan, analyzing unemployment reports. Betz is running as a progressive millennial.

3rd Ward

Adam Hussain — Hussain, 37, is unopposed for a second term serving the southwest side of Lansing. A Waverly Community Schools civics teacher, he is the son of two-term Lansing Council Member Jody Washington, and aligns with her on most issues, particularly marijuana regulation, labor issues and neighborhood-focused development.

East Lansing

The top three finishers will be elected.

Mark Meadows — Meadows, 72, has served twice as East Lansing’s mayor, first from 1997 to 2005, and again starting in 2015. In between, he served as a state legislator. Meadows is a lawyer who worked three decades in the state Attorney General’s Office. If re-elected to the Council, the other four Council members will decide whether he should continue to serve as mayor, which is appointed from the Council, not directly elected.

Erik Altmann — The other incumbent, Altmann, 55, is an MSU psychology professor who first won election in 2015. Altmann commutes by bicycle between home and campus and wants to improve the city’s bike network with protected lanes as well as increase the number of electric charging stations. He has also supported the new city income tax and recent downtown developments.

Lisa Babcock — An outsider candidate, Babcock, 53, is an attorney and former Democratic legislative staffer who started her career as a journalist in northern Michigan. She’s running to increase transparency and accountability in city government and has called into question development deals and land sales.

Jessy Gregg — Gregg, 42, operates a boutique fabric store, Seams, in downtown East Lansing and has a fine arts degree, with fabric as her medium. She wrote for East Lansing Info before trying her hand in city politics and serves on the Ingham County Parks & Recreation Board. After the loss of the city’s folk festival, she’s running to ensure the arts community has a voice in city government.

John Revitte — Revitte, 69, is a professor emeritus of human resources and labor relations at MSU who has lived in East Lansing since 1991. He has served on the East Lansing Parks and Recreation Committee and worked to revive the farmers market. He started his run for office as the city tried to tackle its deer overpopulation and believes his background could help the city look to other places to solve its bigger problems.

Warren Stanfield III — Stanfield, a 20-year-old student at MSU and former wrestling star, is running to increase the student voice at city government and bridge the town and gown divide. Stanfield grew up in Detroit and graduated from Walled Lake Central High School before matriculating at MSU in 2017, where he studies political science and pre-law. He interned in the Legislature with Rep. Cynthia A. Johnson, D-Detroit.

Also, voters will decide if East Lansing should sell 27 acres of scrub land along the U.S. 127 freeway on the west side of the city. The land, to the southwest of the intersection of West Road and Coleman Road, was purchased through foreclosure proceedings.

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