Editor’s note: This is part of a series of East Lansing City Council candidate profiles ELi is running to help voters get to know the candidates. Check out ELi’s Elections coverage for more profiles. Click here to find our voter guide to the election.
Daniel (Dan) Bollman is running for City Council because he wants to bring to that legislative body his experience chairing the Planning Commission and working with zoning.
Three issues Bollman lists as motivating his run for Council include: maintaining and strengthening the City’s relationship with Michigan State University; having Council members with substantial local-government experience who empower City staff; and addressing issues relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion, specifically with regard to how DEI relates to budgeting and zoning.
Bollman is running for one of the two four-year seats and is seeking a seat on Council because he wants to “play an active role in keeping East Lansing a progressive, engaged community.” He said he is running now because “Mayor Stephens’ departure leaves his four-year seat available.”
Bollman said he would bring an “experienced perspective” to Council, which he said, includes his decade-plus years of municipal experience and “familiarity with the development process, urbanism, planning and zoning.”
In 2007, after living in Georgia for a period, Bollman returned to East Lansing when his wife was appointed as faculty at Michigan State University. Bollman and his wife have two children in East Lansing Public Schools.
Bollman received a Master of Architecture degree and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan in 2001. He founded East Lansing-based East Arbor Architecture in 2008. Bollman notes that he is also an Eagle Scout.
In terms of government experience, Bollman has served on the East Lansing Planning Commission since 2015, chairing since 2017. Bollman also served on the City’s Historic District Commission from 2008 to 2014, chairing during his final two years, and he served on the ad hoc Nonconforming Use and the Comprehensive Plan Urban Form Committees.
Prior to living in East Lansing, Bollman served on the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission from 1999 to 2001, and he worked for the City of Kalamazoo as its historic preservation coordinator from 1990 to 1995.
Candidate’s view on the important issues:
Bollman has a strong desire to see Council adopt the Form-based Zoning Code, which he sees as the next step in carrying out the City’s 2018 Comprehensive Plan. He served on the Planning Commission committee that worked with City staff for over two years on the development of the draft now being reworked.
Bollman told ELi in his candidate interview that the code he wants to see adopted would place emphasis on the public-facing aspects of buildings, as the code “aims to shape a safe, attractive public realm, support greater density and encourage inclusivity.”
Another issue important to Bollman is the City maintaining and expanding its partnership with MSU. He wants to seat more students and faculty from MSU on East Lansing commissions, arguing that individuals can bring knowledge from their fields of study.
“So, we can acknowledge our dependence on the University, but I think we can still expect a seat at the table in terms of the sort of things that the University might bring to us, and we might bring to them,” Bollman said.
A third major issue for Bollman is the need for “experienced leadership” on Council. Bollman noted that the next mayor will start with a maximum of two years’ experience serving on Council, unless a former Council member files to run. (Lisa Babcock and Jessy Gregg will be the longest-serving members of Council after this election; both were seated in November 2019.)
Bollman believes City staff are knowledgeable and Council members should be ready to collaborate with staff members.
“As a former municipal employee myself, I remember really appreciating the support of City leadership,” Bollman said. “So, I would intend to place my trust in the advice of City staff as we work to find solutions to the problems that we’re facing.”
A third issue Bollman mentioned are issues relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), both in East Lansing generally and in City government, especially with regards to budgeting, housing, and zoning.
For the budget, Bollman said the City “needs to critically review the budgets and performance of all its departments, and consider alternative ways to use our limited public funds.”
Bollman said that past zoning and housing policies have sometimes marginalized underprivileged communities and that neighborhoods must be accessible to all.
He told ELi that he would be eager to dedicate four years to exploring and improving on issues he identified.
Find out more from ELi about the November 2021 Council election, including filing deadlines, who is running, and more, by clicking here.