Stephens wants East Lansing to be more attractive to MSU grads

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Michigan State University senior Aaron Stephens is running for his first term as an East Lansing City Council member.

He is challenging incumbents Ruth Beier and Susan Woods who are running for their seconds terms. Only two will be elected Tuesday.

“I do not think I am the youngest person who has ever run, but I believe I would be the youngest one who has ever won,” Stephens said.

Stephens has worked on campaigns for Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, as well as working on congressional campaigns.

“I have helped out a lot locally, I am still on dial for a lot of candidates across the state,” Stephens said.

Right now, Stephens is working with state Sen. Steven Bieda on voting rights.

“State Sen. Bieda is a great friend of mine. Right now we are figuring out how to get people registered to vote easier, especially on college campuses,” Stephens said.

Stephens said his interest in politics was sparked at a young age.

“I grew up with a divided household politically. My dad is a Republican, and my mom is a Democrat, so I would wake up to Fox News in the morning, and I would come home to MSNBC when I got out of school. I was getting both sides, so I had to figure out where my values were,” Stephens said.

Stephens said that he thinks local politics is the best form of politics.

I think it is the place where you can do the most. In the Legislature, you have to convince an entire body to go with you on a certain platform. On the local level, if my neighbor walks up to me and says this is an issue, then I have to convince two other people to help me solve that issue and then we can just get it done. I think that is a beautiful thing, and that is why I love local politics,” Stephens said.

Stephens works on issues at both the state and national level, and when he saw problems in his own city, he figured it was time to step up.

East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows said, “I think Aaron is a great guy. He does not have quite the connection in the community yet. You could consider him sort of to be an underdog. He has some good endorsements.” 

Stephens said, “I want to be the voice for the younger generation. I want to have a different perspective on the City Council, I feel like that is really needed, especially in a town with thousands of students, a town that really wants to attract young families but just is not right now. You get people who come to MSU, they stay for four years and then they just leave. They go to Lansing or they go to Detroit, they go anywhere across the country, but you do not have people who just stay here. I think that is one of the biggest issues in East Lansing, and that is a perspective that I bring to the table that the other councilmembers just are not going to,” Stephens said.