Editor’s note: This is part of a series of East Lansing City Council candidate profiles ELi is running to help voters get to know the candidates. Check out ELi’s Elections coverage for more profiles. Click here to find our voter guide to the election.
Ron Bacon is running for East Lansing City Council because he is interested in bringing a positive business perspective to grow the City through reduction of redundancies and inefficacies, greater cooperative alignment, and clarified regulation that promotes economic development. Three issues he lists as motivating his run for Council: legacy costs, including the unfunded pension debt; addressing the need for infrastructure improvements while construction costs continue to rise; and revenue recovery post-pandemic.
As he is looking to maintain his place on Council, Bacon has decided to run for the two-year seat, rather than a four-year seat. Bacon was appointed to Council in August of 2020, following the resignation of two Council members in July (Ruth Beier and Mark Meadows). Twenty-three eligible applicants sought the two open seats and 13 applicants were interviewed. Bacon was appointed alongside Dana Watson, and Watson is running for a four year-seat.
In an interview with ELi, Bacon said he chose the two-year track because it aligns with his background and “urgency of the moment.” Bacon said his “private sector exposure gives [him] a different type of urgency and expediency towards results.”
He is running for Council because he wants to see results, and he said he is open to hearing all sides of an issue to achieve desired outcomes.
“I am most interested in positive outcomes and fair impact,” Bacon said. “That is the balance I feel I bring to Council.”
For ten years, Bacon has lived in East Lansing, and his three children have attended East Lansing Public Schools.
Bacon received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and sociology and a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Saginaw Valley State University. He currently works for Genentech, a biotechnology company, and Bacon added that he has worked in the biotech industry for over 20 years.
Having played football in college, today Bacon is an assistant coach for the varsity football team at East Lansing High School. He draws on his secondary background in youth counseling and juvenile courts as he continues following what he names as his “passion for coaching and mentoring.”
In terms of public service experience, Bacon serves as chair of the MLK Commission of Mid-Michigan and as a board member for the East Lansing Educational Foundation. He previously chaired East Lansing’s Human Rights Commission.
On Council, he serves as a liaison to several different commissions, telling ELi that he was “honored to be liaison to and seat the very first Income Tax Board of Review and the Police Oversight Study Commission.”
For the nine months during which he has been on Council, Bacon has served as Council liaison for East Lansing’s Board of Review, Economic Development Corporation, Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission, University Student Commission, and Human Rights Commission.
Candidate’s view on the important issues:
Bacon told ELi that, “Legacy costs are one of the biggest challenges facing most municipalities including East Lansing, [and] it is important to balance this with the ability to support and promote growth as a city.”
If elected to Council, Bacon said he would also want to tackle “looming larger scale capital expense needed in many areas and departments throughout the City,” understanding that labor and materials costs are rising.
A third issue he named as important is “creating an accelerated environment to municipal, university and private sector revenue recovery post pandemic,” growing the tax base while trying to ensure that businesses, especially small businesses, are not negatively impacted.
Bacon says that part of support for economic development is an examination of codes, policies, and inefficiencies that might be getting in the way of business. Bacon explained that he wants to evaluate and modernize East Lansing’s regulatory system, so it fits the business environment and post pandemic changes, such as more people working from home.
He believes it is Council’s job to determine how to support growth, and he noted housing policy as one example.
“Most acutely, I have an interest in solutions to the challenges surrounding housing, using the complete findings of the housing study to create an informed path forward.”
In our interview, Bacon said he is particularly proud of the work Council has done managing the challenges of the pandemic, particularly mitigating revenue loss.
“This was happening while simultaneously working to create a safer and more inclusive East Lansing for all our citizens and visitors,” Bacon said.
Find out more from ELi about the November 2021 Council election, including filing deadlines, who is running, and more, by clicking here.