By Lilli Khatibi
Entirely East Lansing
Candidates running for East Lansing City Council all support student involvement. One candidate in particular, Samantha Artley, has a unique outlet: communication through Greek life.
Artley, 22, is a 2012 graduate of the James Madison College at Michigan State University and an alumna of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority.
“From a young age I was always very interested in the idea of politics, but my AP history teacher was the one to really spark my interest,” said Artley. “We had to discuss the different presidents and through that, he saw my argumentative personality and gave me information on James Madison College.”
Artley said she toured the college and immediately fell in love.
“At the time, I went to a small Catholic school and graduated with 55 kids. I had this very closed mindset of what the world was and how things should be, and then I came to Michigan State and that all changed.”
Artley said that because of her involvement with James Madison, people of different nationalities, religions, and political beliefs surrounded her.
“Having those professors kind of dig into you and go back at you and actually challenge your ideas made me realize that I can expand my views and I’m allowed to have more than one view. I started developing those views and just fell in love with politics,” said Artley.
Artley said she interned at the Rossman Group her sophomore year and worked on advocacy.
“I helped do a press conference with Gov. Granholm and from there I just kind of dove into the whole political scene,” said Artley.
Artley worked on a U.S. Senate campaign for Clark Durant, a Republican. Granhiolm is a Democrat.
“They had a very small campaign and I got to be involved in a lot of the high-level decision making,” said Artley.
After her time on the Durant campaign, Artley received a job as campaign manager for Andrea Larkin for 54 B District Court.
“I took this an experiment to see if I actually know what I’m doing and learn how to connect with voters. I wanted to see if I could have a life in the political world,” said Artley.
Artley says that, if elected, she would bring a fresh new perspective to City Council.
“I’m not really entrenched with any East Lansing political mindset. I haven’t been in the decision-making process currently and so I don’t have any view of how things are supposed to be,” said Artley.
“One of the things I really want to look at is how we develop downtown,” said Artley. “I think there’s been some complaints on the DDA (Downtown Development Authority) not really focusing on marketing the city well.”
Artley said she wants to bring in more tourism.
“I want to make East Lansing more of a destination city than it currently is,” said Artley. “People come here for sports and for things that the university puts on. We’re not really making an effort to make this a weekend or weekday destination for dinner, retail, or just to stop by and check out.”
Artley said she would use her marketing experience to “rebrand” the city and make it more attractive.
“I would like to see more daytime retail. I would like to see more diverse and different businesses, something that can compete with other cities around the state,” said Artley.
“I think we need to figure out what we as a city need to focus on first. I think we need to ask ourselves what our priorities are, reassess where we’re at with them, and see if there is a better way to go about them.”
Artley said she’s ready to take on the responsibilities.
“I think I can take my professional career I have right now and combine it with how much I love to communicate. I’m a communicator by nature, and I have the energy,” said Artley.
Artley’s main campaign strategy has been to use her experience with Greek life to help incorporate student voice.
“There are 24 commissions and 22 departments within the city. I don’t see why Greek members, or students for that matter, wouldn’t get involved with that,” said Artley.
Artley said her experience with Greek life at Michigan State drove her to politics.
“From the Greek perspective, those are the students who are most likely to get involved in politics, get involved in advocacy. I don’t think City Council takes advantage of those perspectives enough,” said Artley.
Artley said Greek involvement is a unique perspective that the City Council has never had before and hopes it will be a push in the right direction.