Archive for Thursday, January 11, 2007

Incumbents all in for election

January 11, 2007

There's one advantage of incumbency Ward 3 Lansing City Council member Janette Labbee-Holdeman is lacking as municipal elections draw near this year.

While her name will be on the ballot this spring, Labbee-Holdeman is quick to point out she won't be running for re-election.

"I went down this morning and paid my $10 and I filed for election," she said in an interview last week, "because I'm an appointee."

Indeed, this will mark the first time Labbee-Holdeman has stood for election to the council. Council members appointed her to the seat in August, two months after Robert Ulin resigned because of professional commitments.

Half of the seats on the eight-member council are up for election this spring, and all four incumbents have filed for election. Labbee-Holdeman, Ward 1 Council member Dee Hininger and Ward 4 Council member Harland Russell all filed last week. Thus far, they face no opposition.

In Ward 2, incumbent Andi Pawlowski filed last month and faces a likely challenge from Sherwood Forest resident Mike Howell, who has announced his intent to run but as of noon Wednesday, Jan. 10, had not filed his paperwork with the city.

The filing deadline in noon Jan. 23.

At the time of her appointment, Labbee-Holdeman said she didn't know whether she would try to stay on the council after the end of her initial term.

"I really had to wait until I had a really good feeling for what the requirements of a council person are," she said. "There's a lot of commitment there."

One of Labbee-Holdeman's commitments is to work for more economic development in Lansing.

"We really have to offset our property taxes with some commercial taxes in the city. It's one of the things that I really feel very strongly about," she said.

City officials, she pointed out, have been diligent in those efforts. But Labbee-Holdeman said she wanted to keep the pressure on the efforts.

"We have to really almost have to keep our foot on the pedals so we don't miss an opportunity to bring businesses, corporations : I think we could market ourselves to small bio-chemical company type of things."

To be successful in economic development, she said, the city must make sure its infrastructure is sound. A longtime member of the city's Planning Commission, Labbee said transportation planning was an integral part of the city's mission. To that end, she said she supported efforts to make improvements on De Soto Road a priority and to take advantage of a $2 million federal earmark for the project.

Recreation, she noted, plays an important role in economic development. But unlike those who would push for development of Lansing Community Park, Labbee-Holdeman said she believed the city should first look to its elaborate trail system.

"We have really not done enough to connect these trail portions together," she said, noting the tourism potential of a good trail system.

She held up the Katy Trail State Park, which spans Missouri's midsection, as one example. "People come on purpose to bike and walk the Katy Trail," she said.

A recent University of Missouri survey, she said, found that 4.3 percent or 1.6 million visitors to Missouri each year engaged in hiking and biking.

"That's not to be snuffed at," she said, adding that trails could be used by people "age zero to 99."

Completion of the trails system, she said, combined with a marketing effort could result in bike clubs and other related enthusiasts to make regular visits to the city.

"If we had a really nice walking area, we could attract people to come and spend time here. There'll be developments, coffee shops and things coming in : It's something that's near and dear to my heart."

Labbee-Holdeman has been a Lansing resident for 33 years. She is director of bank card services for the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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