LANSING, Mich. — Former Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero didn't run for reelection in 2017, saying he wanted to devote more time to his family.
Now he's hoping to reclaim the office he held for 12 years.
“I see people hurting, and I am ready to go back to work,” said Bernero, who has spent the last three years as executive director of the Capital Area Manufacturing Council.
“I faced down the great recession, I helped us survive the bankruptcy of General Motors and I have led in very tough budget times,” he said.
Last week Bernero was at the center of sexual harassment allegations. Two women told the Lansing City Pulse the former mayor had acted inappropriately towards them.
“I think all victims should be heard or respected," Bernero said, "but let me be clear, I’ve never inappropriately approached anyone on Washington Avenue or wherever,” he said.
The names of the women were not released. Bernero said he believes the allegations were made by either Lansing Mayor Andy Schor "or his supporters.”
Schor’s campaign team responded by saying that Bernero was "trying to dodge his record.
"We would never use the horrific and terrible experiences of women at the hand of Bernero for political gain," the campaign said in a statement. "As we mentioned before, the allegations aren’t about the mayor or his bid for reelection at all. We need to take these allegations seriously and listen to the brave women who are sharing their stories.”
Bernero said that, if he's reelected, he’s going to tackle issues involving the city’s budget and accountability among police.
“We’ve got an issue with policing, there’s a lack of transparency,” he said. “There was just a death in the jail back in April and people were lied about to about it, the council was lied to about it. I’m talking about Anthony Hulon."
Hulon’s family recently filed a lawsuit against the city, naming Schor one of the defendants. Bernero said if he was in office, the situation would have never happened.
“This thing was covered up,” he said.
As of right now, Bernero is running against Schor Council Member Patricia Spitzley and Larry Hutchison Jr. While he didn’t have much to say about the other candidates, Berner did not hold his opinions back about Schor.
“I think Andy is a nice guy in the wrong job,” he said.
In the past Bernero has built up a reputation as the “angry mayor”, but he said, as a new grandfather, he’s cooled down and has the skills needed to run the city better than before.
“We need a re-birth as a city now, that will bring everyone along and you can count on Virg Bernero to do that,” he said.