Clockwise from top left: Aaron Stephens, Susan Woods, Scott Hirko, and Ruth Beier.
With less than two weeks to the filing deadline, only one candidate has completed the paperwork necessary to run for East Lansing City Council in the November 2017 election. City Clerk Marie Wicks tells ELi that only incumbent Ruth Beier has filed the required Affidavit of Identity and Nominating Petitions.
Two of the five City Council seats are up for grabs in November, including Beier’s and Susan Woods’. Woods has indicated that, like Beier, she plans to run for reelection, but Woods has not yet filed the paperwork that is required by Tuesday, July 25.
Nominating petitions have been obtained from Wicks by Woods and two other candidates: Aaron Stephens and Scott Hirko. But neither of them have yet filed the Affidavit of Identity and Nominating Petitions.
In April, Stephens did start the process of filing campaign information with the Ingham County Clerk’s office. As ELi previously reported, Stephens is an undergraduate Political Science major at MSU. According to the press release on his campaign Facebook page, “Before being hired onto Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential Campaign, Stephens was a volunteer organizer for the Bernie Sanders Campaign while remaining active in the classroom.” Stephens names as “key issues” “the city’s environmental future, working with interested parties to create a locally-coordinated approach to sexual assault prevention, as well as stimulating more community engagement.”
Hirko has not yet filed any paperwork with the County, although on June 15, in response to ELi’s report on Council campaigns, he posted to Facebook, “My financial paperwork is on its way to make EL Great Again!” Hirko is an Assistant Professor of Physical Education and Sport at Central Michigan University. He has indicated on his Facebook campaign page that his campaign platform will include: “reduction of EL Police by 50%”; “free parking downtown”; “expanding free music downtown along Grand River”; and “enhanced inclusion of green space in the terribly managed Abbot/Gr River City Center location.”
Woods is Executive Director of the East Lansing Film Festival. She has told ELi that her goals include promoting fiscally-responsible dense redevelopment in the downtown, providing senior housing, promoting the arts, supporting the institution of a City income tax, following the recommendations of the Financial Health Team, obtaining a raise for City employees, and building town-gown relationships. Woods does not have a campaign website.
Beier is an Economist with the Michigan Education Association and currently serves as Mayor Pro Tem. (The five City Council members decide who among them will be Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem.) She has told ELi that, if reelected, “my goals will be to continue to: improve the city’s financial position, respond to the needs and concerns of students and residents, insist that all new developments improve our city and pay their fair share of taxes.” Since being elected, she has maintained her Facebook campaign page as a place for posting about City politics.
It seems likely at least one of the candidates besides Beier will complete the filing requirements, and it is always possible additional candidates will emerge before July 25. But we asked Wicks what happens if there is only one candidate and two open seats.
Wicks replied that it was an interesting question. She added, “I can only speculate, but I think, first of all, the council would have to determine a process for filling that vacancy. She said that, as Councilmembers have done in the past when a seat has opened up because of, for example, a resignation or an election of a Council member to a state-level office, “they may elect to conduct interviews.”
Update: as of Friday, July 14 the City Clerk's office says that Aaron Stephens has sufficient number of signatures for his name to appear on the ballot for the November 7, 2017 Election.