Ask ELi: Answers to Questions about East Lansing’s City Council Election

Wednesday, October 30, 2019, 8:26 am
By: 
Alice Dreger

Photos of candidates at the League of Women Voters forum, by Raymond Holt.

The East Lansing City Council election is next Tuesday, and the questions are coming in.

Why does a new flyer link Gregg and Meadows when Gregg seems to be running against Meadows?

Three readers wrote into ELi yesterday to ask why Jessy Gregg is appearing with Mark Meadows on a new high-gloss flyer, all three asking why Gregg appears to have aligned her campaign with Meadows’ if she has not.

Wrote one, “I do know that you have to dig through the fine print to see that neither candidate was contacted and did not participate in the publication. … in speaking with other citizens, all come away with the belief that the two are running together. As they are opposed on many of the issues, supporters on both sides are greatly disturbed. Could you look into this?”

Meadows has not endorsed Gregg. Gregg has not endorsed Meadows. They are not running as a slate.

As the reader quoted noted, the mailing’s fine print says that it is “not authorized by any candidate or committee.” The flyer in question is put out by the Greater Lansing Association of Realtors PAC (political action committee). You can see it here.

Gregg responded yesterday to our questions about the mailer to say she did not see the Realtors’ PAC mailer until we sent it to her. She said she did not approve it.

She was caught similarly off-guard by another mailer, produced by the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce PAC, and told ELi yesterday, “Since this is my first go-around with a political campaign, the PAC-produced fliers did take me by surprise at first.”

Gregg said, “In terms of the accuracy of the [Realtors PAC] flier, I can confirm that transparency, fiscal responsibility and economic development are all very important to me, although Mayor Meadows and I have different ideas of what transparent city government looks like.” (ELi reported on the record of transparency in East Lansing’s government as part of our campaign reporting.)

The Realtors’ PAC ad praises both Gregg and Meadows for “commitment and experience.” Gregg told us, “In this context, I’m guessing I would be the ‘commitment’ and Mayor Meadows would be the ‘experience’? I’m the challenger in this race, not an incumbent [and] my experience is in writing about East Lansing, which has definitely given me a deeper respect for the value of transparency when it comes to local politics.”

Meadows responded to ELi's questions about the mailer late Wednesday night, writing that he had "No comment on the mailer," and adding, "By law they can't consult with candidates about what they send out so neither Jessy nor I had anything to do with it."

He continued, "I only run with myself. In 2015 the chamber mailer had me and Nathan [Triplett] and Shanna [Draheim] plastered all over it and we obviously were not running together. This time Jessy and I were the only candidates the Chamber and the Realtors endorsed so of course we are paired up on their mailers. People are reading way way way too much into those mailers if they think we are running as a slate."

Both Meadows and Gregg accepted endorsements from the Realtors and each received a $1,000 donation from the Realtors PAC. ELi reported this week that Meadows has received an additional $6,000 from other PACs, as shown in this table from our pre-election campaign finance report:

See ELi’s full report here.

Did Grebner really send a letter about the election to 13,000 addresses?

No. Ingham County Commissioner and East Lansing resident Mark Grebner sent a political letter about the election to about 1,300 addresses in East Lansing.

Responding to a question about this from ELi, Grebner explained that he sent his now-viral mailer specifically to the chunk of East Lansing he represents (district 8) plus the Flowerpot/Red Cedar neighborhood.

As noted in the letter, he spent the funds (about $900) it because he wanted his voice against the incumbents heard.

Are there any write-in candidates?

City Clerk Jennifer Shuster has confirmed that there are no write-in candidates for this election. They would have had to file by October 25, so that means there will be no write-in candidates.

Are there restrictions on where yard signs can go?

A reader wrote to ask, “Are there specific rules for location of campaign signs? In previous cities I have lived in, campaign signs could not be in the boulevard between the sidewalk and road as it is a city easement, although many people didn’t follow that rule.”

About this question, the City Clerk referred us to the sign ordinance, a complex law. It appears from our reading of it that citizens are not supposed to put signs of any type in what is typically called the “parkway” in East Lansing, namely the space between the sidewalk and the road.

Incidentally, if you would like a Council campaign yard sign, the City Clerk’s office has a page listing contact information for all the candidates.

Can you vote now, rather than wait for Tuesday?

Indeed, you can. The Clerk’s office will be open this Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to register voters and to issue and receive absentee voter ballots. Thanks to a new state law, you don’t have to give a reason to vote absentee. That means you can vote in person at the Clerk’s office all this week, Saturday until 4 p.m., or Monday until 4 p.m. Read ELi’s special report on how voting has gotten easier.

Don’t forget that there is lots of information available through ELi’s nonpartisan voter guide. Also check out our guide to the special East Lansing land sale ballot question.

 

Note: This article was updated on October 31 at 7:20 a.m. to include the comments sent by Meadows after publication.

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