East Lansing has a new City Council after Ron Bacon (incumbent), Dana Watson (incumbent) and George Brookover were sworn in on Tuesday evening at the Hannah Community Center.
The trio of recent electees join Jessy Gregg and Lisa Babcock to form the full Council. Bacon and Watson, who were on Council by virtue of having been appointed, together became the first Black persons ever to be elected to the City Council of East Lansing.
Once all five members of Council were seated, the role of mayor needed to be filled by one of the five. For the last three months, since the resignation of Mayor Aaron Stephens, Gregg has been serving as the Mayor and Watson as the Mayor Pro Tem, but the roles don’t automatically carry over with the new council.
When the issue came to the table, Bacon was nominated by Brookover. No other Council member was nominated, and Bacon was unanimously elected to be the Mayor of East Lansing. Bacon is the first Black person to serve as the Mayor for the City of East Lansing.
Taking a point of personal privilege, Bacon thanked his family and took a moment to commend the other candidates in the race who did not win. He encouraged all of them to keep working for the community.
Bacon also said that the reality of being the first Black Mayor of East Lansing, in the moment, was a little overwhelming. He said he was standing on the shoulders of those who came before him in the City like Thelma Evans, the first Black person to serve on East Lansing’s City Council when she was appointed, and Dr. Robert Green.
Along with this, Bacon noted the history East Lansing has of being a progressive town in regards to issues like LQBTQ+ rights and housing access.
“I’ll do my best to honor this role and make a way where others can step through this door,” Bacon said.
When it came time for the group to elect the Mayor Pro Tem — the person who serves as substitute mayor when the mayor is unavailable — Watson was nominated by Brookover to be Mayor Pro Tem. But Watson herself then nominated Gregg for the role.
Gregg was elected to be the Mayor Pro Tem via a 4-1 vote. Only Brookover voted for Watson.
With Bacon’s elevation to Mayor, there have now been seven different Mayors in the City since 2015: Nathan Triplett, Diane Goedderis, Mark Meadows, Ruth Beier, Aaron Stephens, Jessy Gregg, and Ron Bacon. Normally a mayor serves for at least two years, but since the 2019 election, there have now been four mayors due to reignations by Beier and Stephens.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Gregg also thanked the community for their support during her brief tenure as Mayor.
Gregg remarked, wryly, that her tenure began with floods and ended with fires, though she noted that she wasn’t responsible for either happening. Bacon joked that he hopes there are no locusts to come.
ELi will be reporting on the new Council, but our reporting is always dependent on the support of readers. Donate today and see your gift doubled with matching funds!