Meet the 13 finalists for East Lansing City Council appointments

Final selections scheduled for Saturday after public interviews this week

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THURSDAY, July 30 — The candidate pool for the East Lansing City Council is shrinking.

Thirteen people will be interviewed over the next two days after the remaining members of the City Council whittled down the candidate pool yesterday evening from 22 applications. Two will be selected on Saturday morning to fill vacancies created by the resignations of Ruth Beier and Mark Meadows.

The first round of public interviews begins at 5 p.m. today and will continue at 9 a.m. tomorrow. Final deliberations and selections are scheduled for a public meeting at 10 a.m. Saturday.

All meetings will be held electronically and broadcast online and live on Channel 22.

Here’s a preview of the remaining candidates:

Adam DeLay is a department analyst at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services with a bachelor’s degrees in social relations and journalism from Michigan State University. He previously served as deputy director for constituent services for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office, assistant for U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow and as a Lansing Township trustee.

“We, as a nation, state, and community are currently experiencing levels of civil unrest not seen since the 1960s. As a country, we only get one shot at something like this every 50 years or so. We cannot waste this opportunity by only doing the bare minimum for racial justice. We need radical policy changes at all levels of government. We must totally rethink the role and structure of law enforcement within our community, and we shouldn’t stop there,” he said in a statement.

Andrew Neumann is a senior FOIA coordination officer for the state of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from MSU and a master’s degree in technology management from Davenport University. He also served six years in the U.S. Marine Corps.

“These are difficult times we are facing. Beyond the global crisis, the city itself seems embroiled in a failure of confidence in its leadership. I want to work to bring back a sense of honor and integrity to the city while continuing to promote open mindedness and diversity,” Neumann said.

Bezil Taylor is a co-facilitator for the Racial and Social Justice Collaborative at Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degree in social work from MSU. Taylor has regularly volunteered and also interned for State Sen. Stephanie Chang.

“I believe every person should have a fair and equitable opportunity to engage and participate in our civic duties as citizens. I also believe we all have a responsibility to advocate for the most vulnerable people in our society. I would like to bring a diverse voice to the City Council, as I am a social worker, researcher and policy analyst focused on social justice issues,” Taylor wrote.

Chuck Grigsby is an administrator at Great Lakes Learning Academy. He’s a member of the city’s Human Rights Commission and has served in a variety of other advisory capacities and committees for East Lansing. Grigsby also volunteers as a youth tutor and basketball coach.

“If appointed, Grigsby will be East Lansing’s first African American councilperson,” he wrote. “Grigsby has protected the rights and human dignity of all people. With his commitment to making a difference, and making an even greater contribution to his community, Grigsby is running for council. Chuck has passion and expertise in giving back to his community.”

Dana Watson is a health educator at the Ingham County Health Dept. with a bachelor’s degree in communication from MSU and a master’s degree in human and social services from Walden University. She serves on board for the Capital Area Housing Partnership, the East Lansing Planning Commission and volunteers for the Lansing People’s Assembly, among other roles.

“I am a mother of three and I bring experience as a co-parent, public health worker and person of color,” she wrote in her application materials. “I advocate passionately for those who are underserved and underrepresented. I have chosen opportunities that utilize my negotiation skills and I can use the skills as a city councilperson. I come to the table with my own ideas.”

Daniel Bollman is the principal architect at East Arbor Architecture and has master’s degrees in business administration and architecture from the University of Michigan. Bollman has served in a variety of volunteer capacities over the last 13 years, including on the Historic District Commission and as chairman of the East Lansing Planning Commission, among other roles.

“East Lansing is facing immediate and long term consequences as a result of the present COVID epidemic, its possible financial impact, and the imminent return of thousands of MSU students,” he wrote. “The departure of two veteran members of City Council has created a possible gap in Council’s familiarity with planning and zoning issues. My professional skills and volunteer efforts give me the experience that will complement the expertise of the City Council.”

Janeile Cannon is a retired senior communications technician for the state of Michigan and studied journalism at Bay de Noc Community College. She devotes her free time to volunteering for various community groups like AARP, St. Vincent DePaul and the state’s Democratic Party.

“I think we are finally on the march toward acceptance of people for what is in their heart instead of continued suppression by the mantle of prejudice and hatred generations have born on their tired shoulders,” she wrote. “Finally, I think we are ready to fully embrace non-traditional families such as transgender or non-binary families, people with mental health challenges, older people with much reduced resources, formerly incarcerated persons, and families struggling with substance abuse issues as people worthy of helping and loving as our neighbors.”

Jennifer Carrera is an assistant professor of sociology and environmental science and policy at MSU and has a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Illinois, among other college degrees. She recently resigned from Lansing Mayor Andy Schor’s Diversity and Inclusion Council and has previously volunteered with her therapy dog at local nursing homes and area hospitals.

“I think it is each person's responsibility to work in service to their community in order to maintain a just and democratic society. City Council serves an incredibly important role for the community, with its responsibility of establishing local laws in the governance of the city. As we sit in unprecedented times, I believe positive change for our nation will happen through the hard work of communities at the local level,” Carerra wrote.

John Monberg is an academic specialist at MSU and has a Ph.D. in science and technology studies from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, among other college degrees. At MSU, he has worked with hundreds of students to research, design, code and develop public deliberation spaces across Greater Lansing including with Our Michigan Avenue and Smart City Citizens.

“I have a deep understanding of the difficult decisions communities are required to make to succeed in the new economy,” Monberg wrote. “East Lansing is undergoing a major transformation that promises a successful future, but this transformation will require coordination across zoning policies, transportation systems, housing density, economic investments, and community groups with very different visions of the future.”

Nichole Biber is a library paraprofessional at Pinecrest Elementary School and has a master’s degree and Ph.D in English from Grand Valley State University MSU, respectively. She’s also an environmental activist and longtime ally to grassroots civil rights movements for social justice.

“At this time of undeniable, large-scale upheaval, local relationships will determine how our community will respond to sweeping change,” she wrote. “Faced with uncertainty, our collective focus will determine whether we are merely applying band-aids to increasingly inadequate systems, or if we progress with the determination to find new opportunities for resiliency.”

Peter Dewan is an insurance salesman at Lyman & Sheets Insurance Agency and has a bachelor’s degree in public administration from MSU. He has lived in East Lansing for decades and served on the city’s Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, the Downtown Development Authority, the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and other community roles.

“The citizens of East Lansing deserve stability and accountability from their local government. On many fronts, there is much at stake, and I believe that our leadership needs to set the tone where public discourse is not just welcomed but encouraged,” he wrote in his recent application.

Rod Murphy is a presenter for the Michigan Attorney General’s OK2SAY program in its Consumer Affairs Bureau who also works part time for the online studying program Quizlet. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English and creative writing, respectively, from MSU. Murphy is also a city recreation commissioner, spent 25 years as a volunteer coach for youth soccer and served as a board member for East Lansing Public Schools for nearly 10 years.

“I have training in the restorative justice model. I have helped students of all ages learn conflict resolution. I am neither afraid of nor put off by disagreements, even public ones, because I know how to keep the focus on what is right, not who is right,” he said. “We need calm, competent leadership and I am willing to provide that to the very utmost best of my ability.”

Ron Bacon is a therapeutic area manager for Genentech Roche and has master’s and bachelor’s degrees in organizational leadership and criminal justice, respectively, from Saginaw Valley State University. Bacon also serves as secretary of the Greater Lansing MLK Jr. Commission and chairman of the city’s Human Relations Commission, among other roles.

“Above any qualifications, I have a deep and abiding love for the ‘East Lansing Family.’ We are a community of many first that can forever be a source of great pride,” he wrote. “We are also a community seeking a practical way forward in the face of rapid social and economic change. I am not the complete answer, but I do believe that I will bring a perspective that draws us closer.”

Check back for continued coverage as the City Council makes its selection this weekend.

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