Mayoral Shocker: Virg Bernero Won’t Seek Fourth Term

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero shook up the political landscape of the capital region Monday when he announced he would not be seeking another term in office. His 12-year reign as Lansing mayor will come to an end at the end of 2017.

Citizens of Lansing,

Serving as your mayor these past twelve years has been the greatest privilege of my life. Through good times and tough times, it has been an extraordinary and unforgettable experience. Together, we have worked tirelessly to make Lansing a better place. And we have succeeded in countless ways. Nonetheless, after much thought and extensive conversation with my family, I have decided I will not seek a fourth term as mayor of Lansing.

While I truly love serving the citizens of Lansing as mayor, I must put my family first now. I have served in public office for 25 years. Throughout this time, my family has been at my side. My wife, Teri, and our daughters have helped me and always stood with me. With my 91-year-old father, Giulio, living with us, I simply cannot do justice to the city and my family, while running a 7-month campaign, though I still have a lot of competitive spirit in me.

I will spend the next 10 months continuing to build our city up, rather than tear an opponent down. I will put the finishing touches on some key developments and begin some transformational projects before the end of my tenure. And then I will turn the page at the end of this year and begin a new chapter for myself and my family. I am proud to say that the next mayor will inherit a city in far better shape than I did in 2006.

Since 2006 my team has leveraged more than $2.3 billion in new economic development that has retained and created more than 12,000 jobs. After a 12-year project, Lansing is now the second city in the entire country to remove all of the lead water pipes in the city.

We fought to save General Motors and helped our hometown car company invest another billion dollars in their Lansing facilities. We strengthened regional partnerships with neighboring townships to drive new economic opportunities through 425 tax-sharing agreements. We collaborated with Ingham County to secure regional funding for Potter Park Zoo and the Lansing River Trail.

New development projects are taking off in every corner of the city that will create even more jobs, attract new city residents and strengthen our tax base. Unemployment in the city has now fallen to its lowest level in 15 years. Lansing has the wind at our backs.

To everyone who has been part of this city’s remarkable success over the past decade, I offer my heartfelt thanks. I have been truly blessed with phenomenal partners in the public and private sectors in metro Lansing. The successes belong to you. The mistakes and shortcomings are mine. To my friends and supporters, I ask that you show every courtesy to whoever succeeds me in this vital office. Lansing’s success is up to all of us.

It was widely believed that Bernero would run for re-election this year. As state Rep. Andy Schor (D-Lansing) prepared to make his own mayoral campaign announcement, Bernero fired a warning shot, claiming that Schor would run a dirty campaign.

Bernero’s time in office has been less than squeaky clean, however.

In 2016, city attorney Janene McIntyre abruptly left office, taking a $166,000 severance package with her. No formal explanation was ever given for the quick departure and hefty payout, leaving tongues a-wagging. While no rumors have yet been confirmed. it’s thought by some that Bernero decided not to seek re-election because of concerns that ghost might come back to haunt him.

But Bernero’s absence leaves a vacuum that many will want to fill. With a Bernero-Schor showown now out of the picture, it’s possible that many will rush forward to throw their hats into the ring. Even before Monday’s surprise announcement, city council member Judi Brown-Clarke had been thinking of making a mayoral run.

What happens from  here on out has yet to be settled. This year’s mayoral race had always been expected to be exciting, and it looks like it still will be, just in ways no one had expected.

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