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Outgoing Lansing mayor reflects on legacy, argues healthy cities are key to Michigan’s future

Nov 6, 2017

Come next January, Lansing's going to have itself a new mayor for the first time in a dozen years.

That's because Mayor Virg Bernero chose not to run for re-election.

During his tenure, Bernero never shied away from a fight — if he felt it was warranted — and his plain-spoken style earned him the handle of America's Angriest Mayor.

Last week, Stateside was in Greater Lansing for the Stateside Live Show, and it seemed like a perfect opportunity to sit down with the mayor and do an "exit interview."

Originally, mayor was low on the list of positions Bernero wanted.

“It seemed like mayors were always either indicted or died in office or were thrown out of office, and none of them seemed like a good way to go,” Bernero said. “Mayor just sounded like you’d be stuck with potholes and barking dogs and funeral processions.”

To him, Congress sounded better. But after finding himself in the mayor’s seat though, his perspective changed.

“You’re at the human level, you’re at the ground floor of where people are, and so I have loved the job,” he said.

He found while the legislature often moves slowly, his position allowed him to react quickly and interact directly with the people in the city.

“You’re right where the people are and you can make a difference today," Bernero said. "And, of course, it’s immediate, and it’s demanding — it’s like drinking out of a fire hose.”

As his term finishes up, Bernero said he is not slowing down.

“I will not wind down until I’m done on Jan. 1 at noon, when I hand the keys over to the next mayor,” Bernero said.

Listen above for the full conversation on Bernero’s early days as Mayor in 2006, his retrospective, and his advice for the next mayor.

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