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East Lansing mayor, city council member resign during meeting

Posted at 5:25 PM, Jul 15, 2020

EAST LANSING'S CITY COUNCIL HAS A MONTH TO FILL TWO VACANT COUNCIL SEATS. — East Lansing's city council has a month to fill two vacant council seats.

Mayor Ruth Beier and Mark Meadows stepped down suddenly during Tuesday's city council meeting.

It happened after the council voted 3-2 to end the city attorney's contract early.

"It's been great working with two of you. The rest of you, sayonara," said Beier as she signed off Tuesday Zoom city council meeting.

She stepped down as East Lansing's mayor about two and a half hours into Tuesday night's meeting.

"I feel sad, I feel free, I feel good. It's a lot of feelings. I rotate," Beier told Fox 47 Wednesday.

The city council voted to end city attorney Tom Yeadon's contract October 1.

"I'm humiliated to be part of this Council," Beier said after the vote. "I do not think it's a good omen for East Lansing."

Beier questioned the legality of the vote.

She claimed council members Lisa Baback, Aaron Stephens and Jessy Gregg talked about their vote over the weekend.

"I think this was based on feelings. None of them would explain why they are firing the city attorney," Beier said.

Longtime council member Mark Meadows resigned immediately after Beier left the meeting.

"I want citizens to know the decision I have made to resign is not spontaneous and has been contemplated by me for several months," Meadows said before he logged off from the Zoom meeting.

Beier and Meadows formally sent their resignation letters to the city clerk Tuesday night.

"I'm going to leave this circus to the fools that are left," Beier said during the Zoom meeting.

"It's been hard. It's been a hard day. I did not sleep that well last night," said councilwoman Jessy Gregg.

Gregg is one who joined the council in January.

She said the situation could've been handled better, but that wouldn't have changed the outcome.

"We are currently involved with some really major restructuring of East Lansing with our criminal code, our public safety code and for a number of reasons I just felt the city attorney is not the right partner for that process," said Gregg.

East Lansing Mayor Pro-tem Aaron Stephens is now serving as the city’s mayor.

Council will have to decide on a new mayor pro-tem.

Fox 47 did attempt to talk other East Lansing City Council members, including Lisa Babcock, who put the city attorney's contract on the agenda.

No one else responded to interview requests.

Stephens issued the following statement:

“We accept the resignations of Mayor Beier and Councilmember Meadows and truly appreciate their service and dedication to the City of East Lansing. We have big challenges and big opportunities in East Lansing, and I’m committed to a fair process for appointing qualified council members as soon as possible so we don’t miss a beat and ensure a smooth transition.

COVID-19 continues to present unprecedented challenges in East Lansing, and the new council must maintain our commitment to serving the needs of our community during this public health crisis. Every day we see new examples of racial inequities across the country, and our new council must address these issues in our own community and continue supporting all residents and their opportunity to succeed. The new council must also remain committed to helping local small businesses as they strive to keep their doors open and help workers keep their jobs during these challenging economic times. I am committed to working hand-in-glove with Michigan State University to help ensure a safe return to campus for all Spartans, and it will be key for the council to forge a new and even stronger bond with campus leaders to help them succeed.

I’d like to personally thank and reaffirm my support for City Manager George Lahanas and our city staff and I look forward to working with them as we begin the process of appointing the two new council members. I am truly honored to serve the people of East Lansing and I appreciate the trust you have placed in me. I look forward to serving as your mayor and working with you to continue making East Lansing a great place to live, work and raise a family.”