Thursday, December 2, 2021

Ron Bacon sworn in as the first Black mayor of East Lansing

November 10, 2021
East Lansing City Council Candidate Ron Bacon
East Lansing City Council Candidate Ron Bacon —
Photo by Chloe Trofatter | The State News

City council member Ron Bacon was elected mayor during a city council meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 9, becoming the first Black mayor of the City of East Lansing.

Council incumbents Bacon and Dana Watson (incumbent), as well as new-elect George Brookover, were sworn into city council during the Tuesday night meeting. After the swearing-in, Brookover nominated Bacon for mayor, the sole nomination of the night. Bacon was elected unanimously by the council.

Bacon and Watson were also the first two Black city council members in the city's history.

“It's still kind of growing on me just being mayor in general, and the additional responsibility and accountability to that role,” Bacon said. “The gravity of the history and that part of it. It's very moving, it's very important. I want to make sure that I represent the position well and make sure that any groups or anyone who's been disenfranchised and felt like they couldn't run for these types of roles just feels encouraged.”

Bacon said that he appreciates those that have tried and failed before him in this respect because they made his election to the mayor position possible.

The new mayor said that he thinks he has a different approach that comes from his background in the private sector to be more open to change.

“This group that we have right here is definitely willing to change until we get it right,” Bacon said.

Bacon has a wide scope of issues he would like to address, but he said that his agenda did not change much after being elected mayor.

“We obviously want to still continue to march away out of COVID,” Bacon said, “We're really working on the relationship and interchange between Michigan State and the city. You think of incidents like the Michigan-Michigan State weekend, those create some challenges in town-university relations. ... I want us to have a much more firm, agreed-upon lockstep approach to discipline, and to managing major hospitality events and that type of thing as a community.”

Bacon said that he wants to work to expand the attainability and affordability of housing in the East Lansing area. He also referenced the environment and environmental infrastructure as a key focus.

“Determining how we're going to move forward and work on our aging infrastructure, and then how we're going to do that in conjunction with being environmentally responsible and making sure we're not contributing to further change to global climate,” Bacon said.

The mayor expressed he appreciates the support given, both in the electorate and in general well-wishes.

He also encouraged residents to provide feedback to the city.

“We have an open door policy," Bacon said, "Feel free to reach out, phone, email, whatever, we like to hear community comments and positive or negative, it'll be taken into consideration and all decisions.”

Lastly, the mayor spoke optimistically about how he looks forward to getting work done.

“It's going to be a challenging couple of years, but I think we're up to it,” Bacon said.

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