Altmann Announces Candidacy for City Council
Bailey resident and MSU Psychology professor Erik Altmann has announced he is running for East Lansing City Council. The election will be November 3 and three seats will be up for grabs: those currently held by Mayor Nathan Triplett, Mayor Pro Tem Diane Goddeeris, and Councilmember Kathy Boyle. Councilmembers serve for four-year terms.
Altmann has been a financial and reporting contributor to ELi. With the announcement of his candidacy for local public office, he will no longer be allowed to be either. I jokingly asked him if he was running for office just so he could no longer be asked to be a reporter for ELi’s Council Capsule.
Altmann answered, “I recognize that I’m shifting gears, from contributor to subject [of ELi]. I also recognize that ELi’s track record and org chart speak for themselves" with regard to nonpartisanship, "and that all candidates can expect to be in the hot seat in the coming months, which is just as it should be.”
Asked more seriously what moved him to run, Altmann responded:
“I love East Lansing, and want to represent the interests of the people who live here. Seems like a simple thing, but in recent years City residents have been getting less effective representation than big developers looking for tax breaks. It’s time to put the focus back on strong neighborhoods, redevelopment projects with clear benefits for the City, and a City Council that appreciates engaged citizens.”
An ELi reader, one I believe was unaware that Altmann was considering candidacy, recently told me that he believes “this town will never elect a professor.” I asked Altmann what he thought of that comment.
He replied, “Good thing I do not actually own a tweed jacket with elbow patches.” He added, “Whether or not it’s the issue [of that reader], I get that you don’t assume you know more than the others in the room. Especially in East Lansing. There is no matching the collective smarts of the people in this town, and I look forward to having a lot of help finding out what I need to know to make good decisions.”
The possibility that Councilmembers are being influenced by campaign contributions has become an issue of late, so I asked Altmann if there are any groups or individuals from whom he would refuse campaign contributions.
Altmann says, “I think it’s important to keep an arm’s-length relationship with developers and landlords, because public money is often at stake in development projects. So I won’t be accepting campaign contributions from them, though I look forward to working with them on projects that make the City better.”
I asked Altmann if there is someone in particular he’s hoping to replace on Council. He answered, “I’ll put this in positive terms. Council member [Ruth] Beier has inspired a lot of people, including me, with her leadership and the values she’s worked to promote. She’s not on the ballot this cycle, and if I’m elected it will be an honor to serve with her.”
Altmann’s campaign website is ErikAltmann.com. He says he welcomes people to “get in touch with me about what they see there and what’s on their minds generally about the City.”
Closer to the election, ELi will be asking all those running to answer a series of questions for our readers, as we did with the school board elections. If you have a question you want us to be sure to ask candidates, please let us know.