WEDNESDAY, April 14 — Lansing City Councilwoman Patricia Spitzley formally announced her mayoral campaign this afternoon with a platform that includes plans for a “transformation” at the Police Department, additional financial oversight, more neighborhood engagement and complete transparency.
“Over the course of the past year, it has become increasingly clear that our city is facing unprecedented financial and social challenges,” Spitzley said, noting poverty and gun violence has been on the rise. “Reckless spending and unchecked discrimination have drained talent, skill and legal resources from the workforce of the government — severely endangering the city’s credit rating and overall financial health. We stand at a critical crossroads that calls for courageous leadership, a commitment to excellence, and an ability to see and tap into the full potential of the people of Lansing. I’m applying for the position of mayor to meet those needs.”
Spitzley works as a deputy redevelopment manager at Racer Trust, which was created out of the General Motors bankruptcy to clean up and redevelop the automaker’s toxic assets, like the old Fisher Body plant in Lansing. She was elected to her second term on the Council in 2019. Her current term expires at the end of 2023. Her successful election would trigger an appointment process.
“Lansing can no longer afford business-as-usual. People are tired of the same litany of bad decisions and empty promises that misguide us about city funds and spend our money on political paybacks that have nothing to do with our neighborhoods and the daily lives of people who live here. We need a Mayor who listens and brings us together for our common purpose of a strong and united Lansing,” Spitzley said in a release. “With your support, I will be that Mayor.”
A press release outlined the key aspects of Spitzley’s campaign — including community inclusion and input from neighborhood residents, transparency and accountability within the budgeting process, a commitment to diversity and “transforming” public safety in Lansing. A small crowd of mostly news reporters gathered at Wentworth Park today to hear more details.
Spitzley was careful to avoid the phrase “police divestment.” Rather than cut the police budget like Black Lives Matter activists would strongly prefer, she plans to find creative alternatives — like staffing additional social workers and rerouting 911 calls to other social service agencies.
“We need to reform how we do our public safety. I think it means transforming how we provide public safety services,” Spitzley said. “It involves looking at different options. There are a variety of ways to transform the police department, but it will be something that involves local community groups and residents. This won’t be done in a vacuum or behind closed doors.”
This year’s mayoral election has already garnered several viable candidates ahead of the April 27 primary filing deadline — including incumbent Mayor Andy Schor and former three-term Mayor Virg Bernero. Several other candidates have jumped into the race as well, including Farhan Sheikh-Omar, Melissa Huber, Larry Hutchinson, Arielle Padilla and Jeffrey Handley Jr.
Spitzley said she plans to differentiate herself from Bernero and Schor by being a “leader that believes in full transparency and full accountability,” who is also willing to work with community groups and other municipal governments to “help deal with a number of issues in the city.”
“I think it’s a good time for somebody who has leadership, who is able to work with surrounding local governments on a regional level. It’s a good time for someone who believes in fiscal responsibility. It’s a good time for someone who supports neighborhoods,” Spitzley added.
Schor was sitting on an unspent fundraising bank of about $180,000 in February, according to campaign finance reports. Bernero had about $106,000 cash on hand. Records show Spitzley has only about $1,200 as an ending balance in her latest finance reports.
But she doesn’t expect the funding shortfall will cause her to lose any competitive edge.
“I really believe we’re running a grassroots campaign,” Spitzley explained. “I believe that once folks are given a viable option to the current administration and the past administration and hear my vision, that I will have folks support me. It really boils down to how you want to invest: Do you want to invest in the future of Lansing or do you want to go back? I’m hoping that the residents of the city of Lansing will want to move forward together and invest in the future.”
Spitzley’s election would also make local history — making her both the first woman and the first African American to serve as mayor in Lansing. She said she doesn’t see that as a clear advantage in the election.
“I would be a great mayor. I’m an African American female, so I would be a great African American female mayor,” Spitzley added. “What helps you get elected is a vision for the future.”
Former Councilwoman Jessica Yorko helped Spitzley set up before today’s announcement near Wentworth Park. Yorko opted against running for re-election after her second term in 2017.