By Kate Kerbrat
Entirely East Lansing staff writer
City Council candidate Ruth Beier has history with East Lansing. She received her bachelor’s degree in economics from Michigan State University, where she also played for the varsity basketball team. She returned to live in East Lansing five years ago.
Beier sits on the Downtown Development Authority for the city, and is in the Oakwood Neighborhood Association. The 52-year-old said she is dedicated to improving the relationship between the neighborhoods and the city.
“People think of the City Council as the city and the downtown, but really, we have all these really cool established neighborhoods, and they all have their own identity, and a lot of time they don’t feel listened to by the city,” said Beier.
Beier plans to involve neighborhoods more by getting their input when there are issues in their area, and to take their desires into consideration. Beier said that with so much focus going downtown, the neighborhoods still need to be protected. There needs to be time to establish relationships with all of the neighborhoods and improve communication between them and the city.
Beier said she hopes to improve relations between students and permanent residents. While one of her reasons in moving to East Lansing was to be around students, she said there should be a change in the way student housing is handled off campus.
“We’ve got these beautiful huge old houses with two or three or four bedrooms that now have 10 bedrooms and two bathrooms and 25 people in them. It’s just not a good way for anybody to live. It’s not good for the students; it’s not good for the neighborhood,” said Beier. “So I’d like to see a strategy to get those houses to be houses again, and then have denser housing near campus.”
Beier, a Democrat, works for the Michigan Education Association as a labor economist. Prior to that, she was associate director for the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at MSU, and was the deputy treasurer for the State of Michigan before that.
Beier said that having someone on the City Council who can read a budget and audit, along with her training to think logically rather than emotionally, will help the city.
Beier also wants to change zoning to make areas more uniform.
“It’s called a formed-base code, and you have what you want in a certain part of the city, not in another part of the city,” said Beier. “I think I might try and learn more about that and make the city more cohesive and beautiful and functional.”
Beier also wants to change the 50/50 law that requires half the income of new restaurants to come from food, an attempt at limiting the number of bars in East Lansing. Because some bars are grandfathered in, there is an inequality between old and new bars.
The international community is another group that Beier wants to aid. She said steps should be taken to help international students and East Lansing residents feel a stronger sense of community. The closing of Red Cedar Elementary School—one of the most diverse schools in the nation, according to Beier—decimated the Red Cedar neighborhood where many international families live, and something needs to be done to help the area.
Intent on staying in East Lansing, Beier has found her niche in the city. She recently became a fan of historical fiction, and has spent a lot of time at the East Lansing Public Library studying for her math class and reading.
“I do everything here. I live here, I come to the library here, I work in East Lansing, I visit campus almost every day,” said Beier. “I guess my favorite thing to do is to walk around campus on busy days, like football days. I can spend all day over there, it’s a blast.”
More information on Beier’s campaign can be found here.