The desire to serve her home community is nothing new to Sylvia Martens.
It’s something that she said she’s wanted to do for some time. But between raising two children and working for about 30 years at Citizens Savings and Loan — part of that time as the bank’s first female senior vice president and secretary to the board of directors — she said she never had quite enough of what she really wanted to justify making a run for office.
“If you want to do it right, then you need to have the time,” she said. “And that’s my belief —I don’t just want to do it, I want to do it right, that’s my motto.”
In retirement, she said she has found the time to devote to the job, though she said that phrase has also become a sort of guiding principle for her campaign. Martens said in making the decision and reflecting on her motivation, she doesn’t want to have streets or buildings named after her, nor is she running for recognition or awards.
“Knowing that children have good educations, especially my children and my grandchildren, those are my trophies,” she said.
To that end, Martens agreed that the next few years are bound to be important ones for the future of the Lansing School District. Implementation of a new state curriculum, increases in deployment of technology in the classroom and, of course, the construction of a $73 million voter-approved bond project will be taking place more or less concurrently. Martens said she feels those changes equal crucial decisions for the Lansing School Board.
“A lot of those decisions have been made, however, a lot of them are ongoing,” she said. “So it will be wonderful to see and to learn and to be part of the team that’s going to do that.”
Martens said those decisions include accommodating new technological needs, accessibility, security measures and newly emerging teaching techniques. With three grandchildren now in different levels of the Lansing School District, including one who will be a senior the year the new high school is scheduled to open, she said she has a stake in the way those new challenges are tackled.
Martens said she also helped oversee renovation projects at Citizens and is somewhat familiar with the details of construction, albeit on a smaller scale.
At the root of the way Martens said she would tackle the details and decisions ahead is a belief in ensuring all children in the district have equal opportunities and encouragement when it comes to their education.
“You want to have those doors open,” she said. “You don’t know the route that they need to take. But you need can go ahead and make them want to be the best they can be.”
Martens said it is important to her that the board work as a team on those goals. She also said it is important for her in communicating with constituents to maintain the kind of policy she took pride during her years in the banking industry.
“I had an open-door policy where it didn’t make any difference if it was a fellow employee or it was a customer, I wanted to do the best,” she said. “I would go and do the best that I could. It didn’t matter how much they brought in, I treated them equally.”
Martens is one of six candidates vying for three open spots on the Lansing School Board in the April 2 election. Incumbent Beth Stevenson, along with Taylor Wisneski, Steven Buffo, Garrett Martin and Rich Hauver, are also running.