Council Candidate Warren Stanfield Wants to End “Taxation without Representation”
Warren Stanfield, one of six candidates running for three open spots on East Lansing’s City Council in November, hopes to fix what he calls one fundamental problem with democracy here: “taxation without representation.”
Stanfield told ELi in an interview that what originally got him interested in politics was the election of President Barack Obama.
“Right around the time he became president, I knew what I wanted to do, there was no question about it,” he said.
It was the passage of the income tax in East Lansing that got him interested in City politics, and that, he says, was also the issue that motivated him to run for Council.
Stanfield says the income tax targeted students, and that the number one rule in American democracy is “no taxation without representation.”
“You can’t have more student money coming into the City and not allocate these people needs,” he said. “Currently, there are no MSU students on the East Lansing City Council and I feel that as time moves on, we should always have a Spartan on the board.”
He said that one of the things he's most passionate about is “getting more African-American males accounted for.”
Stanfield was born and raised in Detroit and graduated from Walled Lake Central High School which he says has “one of the best wrestling programs in the nation.” Stanfield wrestled in high school and also at MSU.
He’s currently a senior at Michigan State majoring in Pre-Law and Political Science. He said that he plans to go to the MSU College of Law to either study immigration or criminal law.
Stanfield worked for four months as a legislative intern to Rep. Cynthia Johnson and also as a page in the Michigan House of Representatives.
"I’m on the House floor assisting with the Representatives,” he explained, adding, “It’s nice getting to know the Reps and it’s a great place to get political experience.”
“I get a lot of looks and people are surprised when I say I'm a politician,” he said in his interview with ELi.
“But where I’m from, if I have five bodies on my belt by the time I’m 18, it would not be that big of a deal,” he said, using an expression that refers to homicides. “It’s nothing for a black kid to go to jail around this age, but it's [considered] weird if they try to do something positive and change their community.”
Stanfield strongly believes the City of East Lansing needs to have more minority representation.
“A big problem that we have in the city is that the Asian community contributes a ridiculous amount of money to our economy, but they're not represented often times because they are not citizens,” he said.
If he is elected, he would like to form a committee on foreign nationals and their interests.
“They're another group that’s being snatched up by this income tax law that was passed and have been taken advantage of,” he said. “Regardless of if they are registered voters of not, we need to have their voices heard.”
Another issue Stanfield is passionate about is financial literacy for East Lansing’s young adults.
“We need more community programs for your young adults, because a lot of times we just leave that on the university. These young twenty-somethings make up a large portion of our economy and they're not necessarily one-hundred-percent financially literate. They may not be up to speed on some of the housing laws or income tax laws.”
Stanfield said the fact that he is young and relatively inexperienced in local government should not matter to voters in the upcoming election.
“I would say that young and inexperienced people make up most of your economy [in East Lansing]. I would say that a lot of people wouldn’t be here if it weren't for young and inexperienced people.”
According to Stanfield, the current City Council needs to be more transparent and welcoming.
“They need to be less arrogant. People who have the information here in East Lansing feel like they can treat the people who don't have the information however they want.”
If elected, he plans to work on the relationship between the City and the students that are here to attend Michigan State.
“It’s about creating a place that's accepting to people that might not be here for very long. There's a derogatory attitude towards college students and it’s harder for some lower-income students to handle that.”
The election is November 5 and there are six candidates for three open seats. Voter registration information can be accessed via the City Clerk’s website. After October 21, registration must be done in person at the Clerk’s office.
Council candidate profiles from ELi:
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