LANSING, Mich. — Five of Lansing’s six mayoral candidates gathered at the Lansing Public Media Center Thursday night to give viewers a deeper look at each of their platforms in a televised debate hosted by Fox 47 News and City Pulse.
Mayor Andy Schor, Council Member Patricia Spitzley, Council Member Kathy Dunbar, Melissa Huber, and Farhan Sheik-Omar fielded questions on the city budget, violence, and policing throughout the night. The sixth candidate Larry Hutchinson Jr. did not participate in the debate.
Schor fielded several attacks from challengers to his seat that there has not been enough done in his four years in office. When asked why he deserved another term leading the city he said that while he’s proud of what he’s accomplished, “there’s still more work to do and I look forward to being that person if the city of Lansing will select me to do so.”
In opening statements, candidates were given one minute to outline specific plans or qualities they hope to bring to the city.
“Transparency, accountability, trust, and leadership. Without that you cannot provide basic city services to our residents,” Spitzley said.
Melissa Huber, a longtime community activist and organizer used her time to highlight a need for communication between local government and the community.
“There’s so many issues that we need to address but we’ve been separated and disenfranchised by our government,” Huber said.
Challenger Farhan Sheik Omar did not mince words in his evaluation of Schor’s work over those four years.
“We don’t have time for a re-do,” Sheik Omar said.
Council Member Dunbar was also critical of the current mayor’s leadership claiming that the city is in need of a leader to take action.
“We need somebody that’s willing to enact bold initiatives to enact the complex problems that we face,” Dunbar said.
Fox 47 News Neighborhood Reporter Larry Wallace asked each candidate by a show of hands to demonstrate who would work to decrease police funding while in office. Sheik Omar, Huber, and Dunbar were the only candidates to raise their hands.
Pictures from the debate
“What I believe is that we need to reallocate some of our funding to move more towards preventing crimes,” Huber said.
“I’m going to invest back into the community. Our kids need resources. They need opportunity. They need guidance, they don’t need policing,” Sheik Omar said.
In light of recent gun violence spiking in Lansing and the loss of three young teenagers, Spitzley took a moment to console the families of those lost.
“I’d be remiss to not offer my condolences to the families of the recent victims of the gun violence,” Spitzley said.
A key statistic that was levied multiple times throughout the night was the city’s rising homicide rate. There were 22 Lansing residents murdered in 2020 and now, six months into 2021 the homicide count has reached 16 according to police data.
Debate night may be over but the election season here is in full swing. Keep up with Lansing's mayoral race and watch the full debate right here with Fox 47.
Primary absentee ballots started going out this week and voters have until 8 p.m. on Aug. 3.
Those mayoral election dates to remember:
Primary Election: Aug. 3
General Election: Nov. 2
If you missed the debate you can watch it below
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