EAST LANSING, Mich. — Ron Bacon was chosen unanimously as the East Lansing's first Black mayor on Nov. 9.
“I've had time to sit with it and it is monumental and it's exciting," Bacon said. “I think it's mostly exciting for whoever is going to come behind me knowing that's an opportunity, and it's open to participate in the electoral process and it's a good thing. I'm excited for the future.”
Bacon said he wants to continue some things previous mayors have started.
“We're going to work hard on continuing to build our relationship with MSU, that's a big one," Bacon said. "Making sure when we have our major events and that kind of thing, that we're in full collaboration, coordination.”
That includes addressing issues like the destruction that sometimes follows football and basketball games. Bacon has joined others in condemning the unruliness that happened after the MSU-Michigan game last month and said to address the problem, everyone needs to come together.
“There can't be any question about what the consequences are going to be," Bacon said, "either academically through MSU or through the city. If it requires parental involvement, fraternities, sororities, kind of everybody, the neighborhoods, all at once coming together and agreeing that this is a cultural change, that must happen. We have to make a shift here. It's kind of a national embarrassment at some point.”
Bacon said continuing to develop the downtown area is important to attract people of all ages to the city.
"The more things we can create, and the more atmosphere you know, building our placemaking and other things, new restaurants, new attractions, I think that's what keeps young people and keeps us vibrant and keeps that professional class here," Bacon said.
And that includes improvements to housing and aging infrastructure surrounding issues, like the recent flooding in the area.
Bacon said he plans to follow the advice of experts to get the city through the pandemic.
“We'll continue to mask where appropriate, follow all safety rules and protocols and we'll just listen to the experts and attempt to walk our way out of this," Bacon said. "I mean, it's we've come a long way. We'd love to finish this and get back to the new normal.”
With a degree in criminal justice from Saginaw Valley State University, Bacon said continuing to establish trust with the Easy Lansing Police Department is important and creating the Independent Police Oversight Commission was the first step in that process.
“I think we've executed a lot of it with our improvements and addition of the social workers and community officers," Bacon said. "We've taken a ton of steps already and the department is in the midst of their accreditation. I think that's going to be the next big thing.”
Bacon is the fourth mayor of East Lansing in just two years. Ruth Bier resigned in 2019 followed by Aaron Stephens this past August. Jessy Gregg was appointed to finish Stephens' term until Bacon was appointed. Gregg now serves as the cities mayor pro tem.
"I think Ron has the perfect combination of dedication and cool headedness," Gregg said. "He's really grown into his role as a council member in the last year and a half and I am excited to see how he tackles this leadership position."
Bacon said both of those resignations were unique and doesn't want people to worry about mayoral resignations becoming a trend in the city.
“We'll continue to try to alleviate those fears and be consistent and fair and just be around so they'll be like, okay, that was just a blip on the radar,” Bacon said.
Bacon was elected to serve on the council for two years. His term as mayor will last for those two years.
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