Two to vie for mayor’s post; incumbents face no opposition in ward elections
Four incumbents on the Lansing City Council won't be challenged on the ballot in this spring's council elections. But the city's top elective post - mayor - will pit the longtime incumbent against a nine-year council veteran.
By the time the noon Tuesday deadline rolled around, only six candidates total had filed for the five open seats: Incumbent Kenneth Bernard and council member Harland Russell, who will challenge each other for mayor, and incumbents David Trinkle Jr. of Ward 1, council president Don Studnicka of Ward 2, Billy Blackwell of Ward 3 and Kenneth Ketchum of Ward 4.
That means Trinkle, Studnicka, Blackwell and Ketchum will retain their seats unless a challenger mounts a successful write-in campaign.
"I guess everybody must be happy with what's happening," Trinkle said after hearing that nobody but the incumbents had filed for the seats. "Usually, it's when somebody's mad about something that you get opposition running."
Studnicka, whose ward has expanded to include the newly annexed area in the city's southern fringes, said he thought he would be challenged for the first time since he first sought election to the council.
"In my case, I'm relatively surprised I didn't get opposition - because of the annexation action that's taken place. : There had been some rumors, some talk around town that someone would run, and that would have been fine, that's what it's all about," he said.
The lack of an opponent won't keep Blackwell from campaigning anyway.
"I'll still get out and talk to my folks, see what's on their mind," he said.
Blackwell said he would have welcomed a more crowded slate of candidates.
"I'd like to see more people get out and want to get involved in the City Council," he said.
For Bernard and Russell, the campaign can begin with an April 5 election in sight.
Bernard, a retired Army major, has been mayor for 20 years and says he's got some unfinished business to take care of including development of Towne Center, the public-private commercial venture on the city's south side that is designed to be Lansing's new downtown.
Russell, who has served on the council since 1995, is senior civil staff designer and project manager for George Butler Associates Inc. He has said he also would like to use his background to push along development of Towne Center.