Bernero, new council members take oath of office


Lansing’s mayor, three council members and the city clerk were sworn in Monday evening at the Lansing Center.

Mayor Virg Bernero inaugurated after winning his third term as mayor in November by a wide margin, according to results from the Lansing City Clerk. He used his inaugural speech to address residents’ concerns about the Lansing Board of Water and Light’s responses to the sweeping power outages in the wake of December’s ice storm.

“The community’s preparations for a natural disaster of this scale were no match for the ferocity of mother nature,” Bernero said. “We cannot control mother nature, but we can control how we respond in times of crisis.”

He said that the independent review of the board’s response will identify what went wrong and why, promising to “implement whatever measures are needed to make sure our citizens are protected.”

“Let me be very clear,” Bernero said. “This will be fixed. From this ordeal we will learn and we will be stronger and we will have a better Board of Water and Light than we had before the storm.”

Two MSU alumni were inaugurated to the city council. Kathie Dunbar was inaugurated to her third term, and Judi Brown Clarke will be serving her first term on the council.

The only new councilmember sworn in on Monday, Brown Clarke, has a long history at MSU. As a sprinter in MSU’s track program, Brown Clarke was named the NCAA’s 1983 female athlete of the year. She went on to win a silver medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics and has been inducted into the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame. She is currently the diversity director at MSU’s BEACON center.

“I think that Spartan pride connects you to the community, and it’s just one more thing that makes me really want to serve this area,” Brown Clarke said. “Being part of Michigan State is one of the draws that brought me back to this community.”

Another large figure in MSU’s track and field history attended the ceremony to support Brown Clarke, retired coach Jim Bibbs. Also a member of the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame, Bibbs coached track and field for almost 30 years and worked closely with Brown Clarke. They have remained close ever since, with Brown Clarke referring to Bibbs and his wife in her inauguration speech as her “second parents.”

“Not only was she a great athlete, she’s always been a great young lady,” Bibbs said. “I love her.”

One topic was universal among all the individuals sworn in — their commitment to establishing a stronger relationship between Lansing and MSU.

“You can expect to see a lot of focus on development along the Michigan Avenue corridor,” Bernero said. “If we can grow and build on that, there’s a very bright future for the entire Lansing community.”

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