East Lansing City Council finalized four candidates for the city attorney’s position in a meeting last week on Thursday, Aug. 27.
After roughly an hour and a half of deliberation and discussion, the council decided on four of the eight firms that applied for the finalist interviews. The four finalists chosen are Foster Swift, Clark Hill PLC, Rosati Schultz and George Brookover. The other four firms that applied were Thrun Law Firm, Casey Conklin, Bloom Sluggett, PC and Gallagher Law Proposal.
"Some factors that I was considering, and this is in no particular order but No. 1 is gonna be (the) cost," East Lansing Mayor Aaron Stephens said. "Obviously, making sure that you know that we are keeping in mind our budget constraints, understanding the services and the scope that we are going to need. But also understanding the financial reality of what we're going to be able to pay for."
The reason the City of East Lansing is in the search for a new attorney is due to the decision by the city council earlier this summer to terminate City Attorney Tom Yeadon’s contract, effective Oct. 1. A 3-2 vote to terminate Yeadon’s contract during a July 14 city council meeting led to the resignation of council member Mark Meadows and now former East Lansing Mayor Ruth Beier.
During the Thursday discussion, factors such as cost, diversity, equity and inclusion, and accessibility were cited as criteria important to picking candidates.
One of the questions posed by council member Dana Watson to the candidates was about diversity, equity and inclusion not being just words.
“What racial justice work has your firm been involved in and how does diversity show in your firm? How does inclusion matter?” Watson asked.
Yeadon, of the McGinty firm, is still currently working as the city attorney and will continue to do so until the decision takes effect.
Earlier this summer following the decision to terminate the contract, council member Lisa Babcock told the State News that there had been some differences for a long time. Babcock said she had been extremely frustrated with Yeadon’s position on the Freedom of Information Act, stating she thought they needed to be much more transparent than they had been.
According to Stephens, the following interviews for the four finalists will take place on Thursday, Sept. 3 but a decision may not come that evening.
The interviews will last around 45 minutes each. Residents will have a chance to make remarks at the meeting during the time set aside for public comments. Written comments can be emailed to the East Lansing City Council.
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