By Rachel Beard
Lansing Township News Staff Reporter
This November, Lansing Township voters will be voting for more than just a new president of the United States. They’ll also be voting for a new supervisor for the township.
On Feb. 26, Kathleen Rodgers served her last day as the Lansing Township supervisor after more than 27 years in township government. Former board of trustees member Diontrae Hayes took her place on Feb. 29 and will serve as the interim supervisor until a new supervisor is elected on Nov. 8.
“When I learned that the former Supervisor Kathy Rodgers was leaving, I knew that my education in Public Management coupled with years of experience in state and local government could be an asset to the township,” Hayes said.
“I was thrilled when the board members unanimously chose me for this position. I feel beyond blessed and I hope to bring creativity, leadership, and passion to this position while creating a solid vision for the future of this vibrant community,” Hayes said.
Hayes hopes to continue the township’s projects in Eastwood Towne Center during her time as supervisor.
“A few of my goals as supervisor of Lansing Township are to maintain our standard of providing excellent public safety and constituent services to our residents, to promote sound economic development and redevelopment opportunities and to support the amazing expansion projects at the Heights,” Hayes said.
Hayes was selected for the position as interim supervisor by the board of trustees, but come November, Hayes will have the opportunity to run for the office and be voted into the position permanently.
“Charter townships typically elect their supervisors who function just like a mayor,” Michigan State University Professor of Political Science Laura Reese said. “Townships are different than cities though in that they have a standard charter, so there is little to no variation in how they operate.”
Lansing Township is one of the larger townships in Michigan and functions much like a town or city would.
“Some townships are bigger than cities now, so they’ve essentially taken on a very city-like feeling,” Michigan State University Associate Professor of Local Government Finance and Policy Eric Scorsone said. “We have about 1,200, almost 1,300, townships in Michigan. There’s about a hundred of those that would be considered larger, that they call charter townships, and the rest have typically quite small, still, type of governments.”
But unlike cities or towns, elected officials in townships are more directly involved in government operations.
“The other difference, at least in most of the smaller townships, is that the elected officials actually help operate the government and that’s kind of different than a city,” Scorsone said. “City councils don’t operate the government, the legislators do. They make laws and actually perform functions and do things like operate the police board or something. So there are still differences, but those differences are, at least in some places, not so clear anymore.”
In the meantime, Hayes’ promotion to supervisor leaves an absence on the township’s board of trustees.
“We are actively seeking candidates to fill the vacant trustee position,” Hayes said.
Currently, the township is reaching out to other sources to recruit applicants for the position.
“We have posted the position on the web, the [Lansing State Journal] has done an article about the vacancy, and Representative Andy Schor is putting the information out through his social media resources,” Lansing Township Clerk Susan Aten said.
Aten predicts that the township won’t be heavily affected by the vacancy.
“The Township Board [of Trustees] consists of seven members,” Aten said. “Things will move on as usual during the appointment process.”