Meet the candidates for mayor of Lansing


Primary elections are fast approaching and postal ballots are expected to arrive in the mail soon. Get to know the candidates before you vote, whether you’re voting by mail or in person on August 3 between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

In the race for mayor of Lansing, six candidates are in the running, including the holder. Here’s an introduction to each candidate, including what they had to say about racial equity and the unfunded liabilities in the city.

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Candidates in their own words

Andy Schor (incumbent): For the past three and a half years, I have proudly served as Mayor of Lansing, Michigan, which has been a tremendous honor. Prior to becoming mayor, I graduated from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where I obtained my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History, which ultimately led to me becoming County Commissioner and state representative.

Kathie dunbar: I am the Founder and Executive Director of the South Lansing Community Development Association, where our current focus is on improving access to healthy food through urban farming, free pantries and South Lansing Farmers Market. I have proudly served as a Lansing City Councilor since 2005, drawing on over 20 years of grassroots community perspective to inform policy decisions.

Kathie dunbar

Melissa Huber: I am a research and awareness specialist in community development and youth with a doctorate. in Community Psychology from MSU. Professionally, and as a long-time volunteer community leader, I have over 25 years of experience bringing positive change to youth, families, neighborhoods and businesses in Lansing and Michigan communities.

Melissa Huber

Larry James Hutchinson Jr .: No answer

Farhan Cheikh-Omar: No answer

Patricia Spitzley: I am the director of government affairs and deputy director of redevelopment of the RACER Trust. I sat on City Council as an At Large member for 6 years during my second term. I modified my employment contract with the Trust by relieving myself of all activities on the properties held in the city of Lansing.

Patricia spitzley

On racial equity and the treatment of city employees

Andy Schor (incumbent): Equity has also been a priority at Lansing since taking office, which is why I have invested in our Neighborhoods of Focus program, supporting minority and women-owned businesses through the Lansing CARES assistance, funded at-risk youth and increased affordability. housing throughout the city. Like Lansing, my administration is successful because of the diversity of its leadership and staff, and I have implemented implicit and explicit racial bias training in my administration to help ensure fair treatment of city employees. .

Kathie Dunbar: The current culture at City Hall is unlikely to change until we have a mayor who is willing to understand, be responsible, and take serious action to eradicate racial inequalities. It starts with an independent and comprehensive DEI audit of all systems: external communications (web content and social media, music we play through street lights), internal communications (employee policies, training materials, department communications), programs (who participates, who misses) and facilities (are accessible and welcoming physical spaces) – and ends with a commitment to correcting the shortcomings that result in unfair treatment of historically excluded and under-represented communities.

Melissa Huber: I will actively collaborate with various voices in the community and my cabinet to develop programs and determine budget priorities. I will provide leadership that enthusiastically and proactively engages in equity at all levels of our employee policies, resident service delivery, and vendor / tendering practices , as well as to identify the prejudices and discrimination implicit in the way we treat our residents and city employees.

Larry James Hutchinson Jr .: No answer

Farhan Cheikh-Omar: No answer

Patricia Spitzley: I would bring together schools, community organizations, businesses, mental health professionals to understand the problem and develop a strategy that includes employment, education, social activities and delisting of minor offenses, to tackle why our young people feel they have no choice but to choose crime. I will ensure that City staff are treated fairly by requiring department heads to prepare diversity plans that include hiring, promoting and retaining a diverse workforce.

On unfunded liabilities and legacy costs

Andy Schor (incumbent): My administration was able to make significant changes to reduce unfunded liabilities: we shut down the retiree health care system, cut amortization rates and shortened bond repayments, and combined plans to create $ 3 million savings per year. We will continue to work with our unions, the financial health team and others on ideas to reduce pension obligations and retiree health care.

Kathie Dunbar: According to the latest report from Boomershine Consulting Group, the unfunded liabilities of the pension system are much lower than reported in previous years and are expected to be fully funded by 2041. As the city’s funding outlook may change year after year, we must always be prepared to make difficult decisions in the event of future shortages, but I will do so transparently and in collaboration with all parties concerned.

Mélissa Huber: We need to find common ground that preserves the interests of all. After all, our retirees, current employees and residents all lose out if we don’t find a solution and our city goes bankrupt and / or is placed under emergency management. At the moment, I am also against selling off the Water and Light Board and sacrificing our long term income for temporary gain to cover this shortfall.

Larry James Hutchinson Jr .: No answer

Farhan Cheikh-Omar: No answer

Patricia Spitzley: First we need to make sure our budget is in order. Only then can we sit down and work with experts to develop a plan to continue to settle Lansing’s unfunded liability. I would not seek to unilaterally change policies. We cannot continue to make decisions that impact our Lansing residents and employees behind closed doors.

Campaign priorities and other goals

Andy Schor (incumbent): This community is my home, and I have worked hard over the past four years to invest in our neighborhoods, strengthen regional partnerships, improve equity, provide essential urban services, and improve economic and community development. There is still work to be done, and I ask for your vote to continue to develop our city so that all are proud to call Lansing home. Please see my website at for more information.

Kathie Dunbar: I am excited to create an organizational culture at City Hall, including our relationships with employees, retirees and the community, centered on collaboration, transparency and trust.

Mélissa Huber: I think our city has been ruled for too long by lobbyists, secret donors and outside interests. In the absence of much-needed campaign finance reforms, I have pledged to remain free from special interest campaign donations and any perception of their influence. I run with grassroots support and donations as I move to “eliminate politics from running our city.” However, these large donors of special interests allow their candidates to afford several flyers and road signs. I ask voters to remember who is behind every campaign mailing and court sign and decide if they like the way Lansing is run by outside influences contributing to the campaigns, or if we want to rule ourselves . I am committed to working directly for the residents of Lansing and I appreciate your consideration and your vote.

Larry James Hutchinson Jr .: No answer

Farhan Cheikh-Omar: No answer

Patricia Spitzley: Transparency, responsibility, trust. We cannot continue the status quo of making decisions behind closed doors that impact the residents of Lansing. This leads to mistrust of government, resulting in an inability to provide basic municipal services. As mayor, you are responsible for whatever goes right or wrong. If there is a bad decision or action, it is the mayor’s responsibility to seize it and present a solution to remedy the situation. There is currently an accountability deficit in the mayor’s office.

This story was assembled from questionnaires by LSJ press assistants Sophia Lada and Jordan Nelson. Contact us at [email protected] or at 517.377.1112.

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