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Former Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero leaning towards running for mayor again

Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 6:20 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - ‘America’s Angriest Mayor’ is leaning towards running to be the mayor of Lansing again.

Former Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says he’s strongly considering running for his old job during the next mayoral election in 2021.

“I would say it’s 50-50, maybe 55-45 toward running,” Bernero says. “I did not think I’d be in this position when I stepped back.”

When Bernero didn’t seek a fourth mayoral term three years ago, he didn’t plan on running ever again. That was it. He wanted to spend time with his family and with his father who was growing older.

Bernero’s father, Giulio, passed away on July 25.

“I got out because I needed to reprioritize,” he says. “I needed to do some investing at home, and I don’t regret it.”

Bernero is now a grandfather. He says he’s enjoying being at home with his family more often. He spends much of his time now tending to the kale and tomatoes in the garden in his backyard. He works as the executive director of a manufacturing council. But the thought of coming back as mayor is a seed that has been planted in his mind.

Virg Bernero sits down with News 10.
Virg Bernero sits down with News 10.

“I’m not going to give it up,” Bernero says proudly of his garden. “See that’s what I’m talking about, balance. I won’t be able to do 180 [percent], I’ll only be able to give 120 [percent], cause I’m not giving up my garden.”

But the ‘Angriest Mayor’ says people have been calling him, asking him to go back to his job at Lansing City Hall. He says he is stopped frequently in the park behind his house by people begging him to give it another shot.

Bernero hasn’t always agreed with what fellow Democratic Mayor Andy Schor has done. He is sometimes displeased with the way Schor and his administration have handled things, including on the night of the May 31 Downtown Lansing protests.

“I wanted to go down there and my wife said ‘you’re not going down there, you’re not the mayor.’ But I’ll tell you one thing, I would have been down there. I would have been on the scene and not from a window, not from the ninth-floor office,” Bernero adds. “I would have been on the ground and basically anybody would have had to go through me to damage any part of Lansing.”

Bernero says he is supportive of Lansing Police Chief Daryl Green, but was unsure if he would have signed off on LPD’s deployment of tear gas.

“Would I have used tear gas for example? My answer is, I don’t know. I wasn’t there.”

Bernero is frustrated with the way many of his former staffers of color, like former director of human relations and community services, Joan Jackson Johnson, have been treated by Schor’s office.

“What happened to Martell Armstrong, the housing commission director, was obscene. What happened to [Former Lansing Fire Chief Randy] Talifaro, outrageous. Joan, the worst off all, just unbelievable!”

So what would it take for Bernero to launch a 2021 campaign?

“It’s not a political calculation. It’s a gut check, it’s a personal feeling, a family decision. And just a decision about am I needed?”

Bernero says he plans to decide whether or not he is running by the end of 2020.

Copyright 2020 WILX. All rights reserved.

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