Mark Meadows Seeks Another Term on Council to Continue Long History of Public Service

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Thursday, August 22, 2019, 7:45 am
Brad Minor

Photo courtesy City of East Lansing.

Mark Meadows is gearing up for another election campaign in his long and storied political career. A long-time fixture on East Lansing’s political scene, Meadows has decided to run for reelection to one of the three at-large seats up for grabs.

Among the five seated Council members, Meadows currently serves as Mayor of East Lansing. If he is reelected this November, the five Council members will decide just after the election if he will serve as mayor again.

Meadows originally moved to mid-Michigan (Eaton Rapids) in 1975 after having earned his law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy. He landed a job in the Attorney General’s office and served as an Assistant Attorney General under Frank Kelley and former Gov. Jennifer Granholm until his retirement in 2002.

Meadows told ELi that his interest in politics predates his time serving as Assistant Attorney General.

“My parents were both politically active, so I grew up where being involved in politics was sort of a daily activity,” Meadows said. “My father was a city council member in St. Clair Shore. Politics was always part of the conversation at my house,” he said. “I got involved with anti-war politics and equal rights politics in the 1960s and moved around the country a lot to be involved with various different political activities.”

One of those activities was volunteering for Sen. Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign. He called Kennedy’s assassination an event “that really took the air out of our sails.”

Three-term state legislator

Meadows said it was volunteering on campaigns that actually got him involved in East Lansing politics.

“A good friend of mine, Dave Balas – who was also an Assistant Attorney General – ran for City Council in the ’80s and I campaigned for him,” said Meadows, who currently resides in the Hawk Nest neighborhood north of Lake Lansing Road.

Also around that time, he was appointed to the City’s Commission on the Environment, which was created in 1989 to implement what Meadows said one of the state’s first curbside recycling programs. During this time, he also served on the City’s Planning Commission.

Meadows’ first run at City Council was an unsuccessful one in 1993 that he says taught him some valuable lessons about campaigning.

“You learn something from every election you lose, and it's not the only election I’ve lost,” he said. (Meadows ran for judge of 54B District Court in 2012 but lost to Andrea Larkin.)

Feeling like he was on the right track, Meadows doubled down on his strategy of community involvement and ran successfully for a Council seat in 1995. He served as East Lansing's mayor from 1997 through 2005.

He left Council in 2006 because he won the Democratic primary to represent the 69th House District in the Michigan Legislature. He served three terms there, until 2012.

During his time in the Michigan State Legislature, he created the “69th District Citizenship Award,” which recognizes students who exhibit strong leadership in their schools and communities.

Meadows then decided in 2015 to try another run for City Council. He was elected alongside Erik Altmann (who is now Mayor Pro Tem and running for reelection) and Shanna Draheim (who is not running for reelection).

Passionate about protecting the environment

Meadows has served on a number of different boards and commissions, including the Tri-County Planning Commission and the Tri-County Office on Aging. He currently is the Chair of the Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club, and he also chairs the federal endorsements committee of the National Sierra Club.

“Environmental protection and protecting the environment for the future of this nation should be at the top of everybody’s list,” Meadows said. “Those are things I hold very dear. During my time as an Assistant Attorney General, I spent a lot of time on the environmental task force that the AG set up. To survive, as we go forward as a human race, we’re going to have to deal with the environment … and having clean water and air, and deal with global warming as it comes up, and right now we’re not doing any of that.”

Meadows said that when he returned to the City Council in 2015, it re-established strategic priorities that relate to protection of the environment and put the city on a path towards one hundred percent renewable energy.

“We’ve been moving in that direction and we will continue to move in that direction,” he said. “Our objective is one hundred percent renewable energy by 2030. Over the next decade, you’re going to see more and more renewable energy in the City, including our fleet of police vehicles, for example.

“The solar array on Burcham Drive – that's just the first of many. I’m very hopeful we can reach that objective.”

Meadows praised Ordinance 1445, which Council passed in March, because it mandates that newly constructed parking lots with 50 or more spaces be equipped with electric vehicle charging stations.

Proud of the parks expansion, fiscal acumen

One of Meadows' proudest accomplishments during his time serving in East Lansing was actually before he was elected, something that happened on the Planning Commission.

“I chaired the Parks and Recreation task force that was created, and it resulted in a tremendous acquisition of new park land in the City, the creation of the soccer complex and the aquatic center, and a lot of the recreational trails we have now,” Meadows said. “All of those projects came out of that task force. During that time, the residents recognized that we were underserved in recreation and we were able to get some bonds passed to make those things happen.”

Practicing fiscal discipline for the City is something Meadows prides himself in, and he believes it has earned him another seat on the Council. He explained that while serving on the Council with Sam Singh, they laid out Citywide what it costs to run each department. He said it lead to smarter decisions and long-term savings.

The recently passed income tax is something Meadows also lists as an accomplishment for himself and the City. He told ELi that it is something that puts the City on solid financial footing.

“It wasn't just me though,” Meadows said. “There is no achievement or objective that has ever been achieved by one person. It is the Council. We are a collegial body and we act as a single body.”

As for those other members of Council and the open seats, at this time Meadows is not making any endorsements of other campaigns. Erik Altmann, who is also running for reelection, has said he is endorsing Meadows.


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