Are you thinking of running for East Lansing City Council this November? If so, you have until Tuesday, July 20, 2021, at 4 p.m. to submit all your necessary paperwork to the City Clerk’s Office.
East Lansing’s City Council elections are held in odd-numbered years, and those elected usually hold their position for four years. But this year, things are slightly different because Council members Dana Watson and Ron Bacon were appointed – not elected – following the resignations of Ruth Beier and Mark Meadows. Aaron Stephens, now serving as mayor, is completing his four-year term this November and has said he will not run again.
All this means that three spots will be open on the five-member Council during the election to be held on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. But one spot (the seat that had been Beier’s) will be for a two-year term only.
Prospective candidates will need to indicate on their paperwork the length of the term that they are seeking – the two-year seat, or one of the four-year seats. The person who gets the most votes among the two-year candidates will get that at-large seat. Among those who run for the at-large four-year seats, the two people who earn the most votes will be seated on the Council. (There will not be separate elections for the two four-year seats. All four-year candidates will be in a single pool.)
In East Lansing, the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem (substitute mayor) are elected by the Council, not voters. After the November election, the Council of five will decide who will serve as Mayor and who will serve as Mayor Pro Tem for the next two years.
So, what does the paperwork entail if you want to run?
You must submit to the Clerk an Affidavit of Identity, which is obtained from the Clerk and which asks for information like your address, email address, and phone number. This information will become publicly available once filed.
You will also need to submit Nominating Petitions. According to the City Clerk’s office, “The required signatures must be collected on non-partisan nominating petition forms,” which you get from the Clerk’s office. “These petitions for City Council must bear the appropriate designation to indicate the office sought by the candidate. Separate nominating petitions should be utilized for voters registered in Clinton County and Ingham County, as Precinct 17 falls completely in Clinton County.”
Prospective candidates must submit at least 50 and no more than 100 signatures of registered East Lansing voters endorsing the campaign. There is no requirement to obtain signatures from East Lansing voters in both counties – one county will suffice. But note that an East Lansing zipcode is not the same as being a voter in the City. Check with the Clerk if you need to know the boundaries of the City for election purposes.
Both the Affidavit of Identity and Nominating Petitions are available from the City Clerk’s office, located in East Lansing City Hall, 410 Abbot Road, East Lansing, MI 48823.
Candidates should be aware that they are subject to Michigan’s Campaign Finance Act, and about that, the City Clerk recommends getting information from the State Bureau of Elections (517-373-2540) or the Ingham County Clerk’s Office (517-676-7255).
And, if you go the process and then get cold feet, you do have a small window of time to withdraw from the race. Written notices of withdrawal must be submitted to the City Clerk by 4 p.m. on Friday, Jul 23, 2021 – just three days after the paperwork filing deadline.
For those interested, the City Clerk has put together this information sheet on declaring candidacy in the upcoming election.