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Our local library hosted a forum this week that gave Lansing residents an opportunity to see and hear from both Mayor candidates, both Clerk candidates, and all seven Trustee candidates. In preparation, we were all asked to be able to answer the question, “Why are you running for office?” I answered that question in my opening remarks, and then I reinforced the message in my closing remarks. The transcript below combines both my opening and closing statements:

Love of Community

diversity and opportunityMy name is Melanie Jongsma, and I’m running as an Independent candidate for Village Trustee because I love Lansing! I grew up here, and I’ve lived in several different neighborhoods throughout my lifetime here. It’s fun to see people from those neighborhoods in the crowd tonight—from Escanaba Avenue, where I spent my childhood, to the Villas of Lansing, where I live now.

History and Destiny

These good people who are part of my history with Lansing affirm for me what a strong history we have. I love our history, and I’m grateful for it. I’m also excited about our future. In fact, I think the best way to honor the hard work of the generations who built this town is to keep building it, to keep moving forward, just as they did generations ago.

Diversity and Opportunity

Perhaps what most differentiates me, particularly from the party candidates, is that I consider Lansing’s increasing diversity not a handicap to be accommodated, but a strength to be leveraged. For example, my young Korean neighbor is managing three successful businesses—one is in Lansing. Her mother would like to open a little shop as well—how can we help her? There’s a young black man down the street from me who has a successful music business. He plays gigs in Chicago and all over the country—but he hasn’t played at Autumn Fest yet. How can we get Lansing on his radar? How can we make sure our Spanish-speaking residents feel welcome and have access to the resources they need? These are hard-working people who want to build businesses and contribute to our community. They are a resource. They bring value to Lansing. And I want to make sure we’re not missing out on the opportunities they represent.

I’d like to see us be more intentional about reaching out and learning from each other. I have some unique experience building cross-cultural relationships. I have skills that I learned in my work with an international organization as well as in the multi-cultural church family I belong to in Glenwood. I’m excited to bring these skills to the role of Trustee because I think they will benefit Lansing economically, socially, and culturally.

Exciting Possibilities

These are exciting times in Lansing! And I may be biased, but I think this is an important election. The choice will be up to you. You can try and stay where we are; you can try to head back to where we were—or…you can choose to build on the work that’s been done—and move forward.

We have come through some tough economic times, and now we are financially healthier than we’ve ever been. We’ve worked hard to climb out of millions of dollars of debt, and now we’re starting to see the results of that hard work. We have some excellent, professional, qualified department heads in place who are collaborating with each other to serve Lansing. Cronyism is out. Territorialism is out. Inconsistency is out. What’s in is accountability, results, and exciting possibilities.

I want to be part of that. I want to contribute my skills and my time to keep moving forward—so I’m asking for your vote on April 4.


Community and Diversity: a transcript of my remarks

On Thursday, April 16, five Independent candidates combined forces to hold a "meet-and-greet" event at the Knights of Columbus banquet hall. An estimated 150–174 guests showed up to meet us and get a sense of the kind of people we are. Each candidate gave a short speech (3–6 minutes), and then we dispersed into the [read more...]

My political platform:
Issues, Ideas, and Ideals

One of the skills I can bring to the office of Village Trustee is listening. (This may not seem like much of a skill, but when was the last time you really felt listened to?) When I go around meeting people, I spend more time listening than talking. When I’m on social media, I do [read more...]


I don't have a lot on my resumé when it comes to community. I don't belong to any high-profile community organizations that you might see in the local newspaper. I've never organized a community event. There are no photos of me at a grand opening, or a volunteer recognition dinner, or a committee meeting. I [read more...]


As an Independent candidate for Village Trustee in my hometown this year, I'm advertising "Integrity" as one of my values. And I want people to understand what I mean when I make that claim. Most people appreciate that integrity has something to do with honesty or morality. That's true, but I also like the "engineering" [read more...]

Why I’m running for office

In mid-November of 2016, several people asked me if I had ever considered running for Village Trustee. I had been approached before and always laughed it off. I'm not well-known or wealthy. I don't crave power. I'm not even particularly extroverted. I have always been perfectly content to simply be a good citizen. But the [read more...]

Everyone has a story to share

For those of you who have followed my weekly posts for the past seven years, thank you for your readership and your participation in the discussions that sometimes ensued. I've enjoyed the community we created together. But now I'm taking a break from regular posting. I prepared the post below as a piece that can [read more...]

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