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Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero won't seek re-election

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
"Serving as your mayor these past 12 years has been the greatest privilege of my life," Bernero wrote in a Facebook post announcing he would not seek re-election.

After 12 years as Lansing’s mayor, Virg Bernero says he won’t seek re-election this fall.

Bernero says he will step down as mayor when his term ends in 10 months, citing his family as his reason to not seek re-election.

During his tenure, the Capitol city has weathered the Great Recession, which forced deep budget cuts due to lost tax revenue. Nevertheless, Bernero says Lansing received millions of dollars of economic development during that time as well.

Bernero earned the title “America’s angriest mayor” duringhis spirited defense of Michigan’s and Lansing’s automakers.The mayor took on a national role defending efforts to protect the auto companies and auto workers as slumping sales threatened the industry.

But his anger was not only targeted at those who opposed helping GM and Chrysler through bankruptcy.

Bernero clashed often with members of the Lansing city council over city policy, budgets and economic development. He won sometimes, and lost others.

Bernero’s departure opens the door to Lansing’s mayor’s office for the first time in a dozen years.

Democratic state Representative Andy Schor has already declared he’s a candidate.With Bernero definitely out of the way, others are sure to consider jumping into the race. The filing deadline is in April.   

Andy Schor issued a statement after Bernero’s announcement:

Mayor Bernero has served the City of Lansing for 12 years as mayor and for several years before that in the legislature and county commission. I thank him for his leadership navigating this city through tough times and wish him and his family all the best as he transitions to the next phase of his career and life.

While Bernero’s decision closes a door on this chapter of his 25-year career in public office (He’s also been a county commissioner and state lawmakers, as well as an unsuccessful candidate for governor), it’s unclear if this marks the end.  

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.