Last Thursday, the Association of Students at Michigan State University hosted a debate among the three candidates — Ruth Beier, Susan Woods and Aaron Stephens — running for East Lansing City Council. Topics included the income tax proposal that will be on the Nov. 7 ballot, whether the council would ever reserve a seat for a student, and what each candidate believes is the most important issue for Michigan State.
On the income tax the incumbents, Beier and Woods, were essentially on the same page, hoping it would pass after a deal could not be made with the university.
“If we want revenue, we have to have the income tax,” said Beier. “If it doesn’t pass, the first place we will look is closing the fire station on campus.”
“If it doesn’t pass, we will find other alternatives. Of course, the obvious way to do that is cut staff,” said Woods.
Stephens did not agree. In fact, he said he had no opinion at all.
“I do not currently have an opinion on the tax,” said Stephens. “I am in favor of an exemption for students and low-income families.”
About mid-debate, a question arose about whether the candidates would support a seat being reserved on the City Council for a student. None of the candidates firmly supported it.
Beier said that she couldn’t see how she could constitutionally agree with it, stating that there are a lot of ways to get involved.
“I think students who love the city and are committed to the city should run,” said Beier.
Woods said it might put a burden on students if one had to fill a seat.
“We welcome students,” said Woods, “there are a lot of commitments.”
Stephens chuckled at the question at first, as he is a senior at Michigan State, but said he would have to look at the constitutionality of the issue.
“I think a youth perspective can only be beneficial,” said Stephens. “In a city that has tens of thousands of students, I think they need to be represented.”
Because East Lansing is so involved with Michigan State, each candidate was asked what they believed is the most important issue to the university right now.
Every candidate had the same answer.
“Debt is the most important,” said Beier.
“Ditto,” chimed in Woods.
“I think I have to say the cost on every level,” stated Stephens.
“It was a great evening,” said MSU graduate and East Lansing resident, Domonique Clemons. “It was great to see so many students turn out.”
The City Council must fill two of its five seats come election day on Nov. 7. Beier and Woods are running for re-election. The deadline to register to vote is October 10.