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Reportajes locales y estatales en español de WKAR.

Lansing Council Chambers Named After First Hispanic Mayor

Tony Benavides, Carmen Benavides, Carol Wood
Traci Ruiz
(L to R): Former mayor Tony Benavides, Carmen Benavides, Lansing City council president Carol Wood

There’s now a permanent tribute to Lansing’s first Hispanic mayor and city council member. On Monday, the city council chambers were renamed after Tony Benavides.

Tony Benavides
Credit Traci Ruiz
Plaque on the outside of the Lansing city council chambers that were renamed for former mayor Tony Benavides.

With a smile on his face, former mayor Antonio "Tony" Benavides watched his wife Carmen unveil the plaque naming the 10th floor council chambers after him.  As you walk into the chambers, there is a golden plaque bearing Benavides’ face. And a sign with his name is over the doors.

It was an emotional moment for his sons Rick and Eduardo, who remembered their father spending many long nights at Lansing city hall.

Tony Benavides
Credit Reginald Hardwick / WKAR Public Media
WKAR Public Media
Rick Benavides (standing) points out the plaque to his father, former Lansing mayor Tony Benavides on the day when the Lansing city council chambers were renamed after him.

“He’s led his whole life working towards the community and towards giving," said Rick Benavides. "And this is not a culmination... but I just think it’s a great honor.”

"He's awesome," said Eduardo Benavides. "And a very giving person. He's always is looking to give the shirt off his back to whoever needs it. And he would do that over and over and over."

Tony Benavides was born in Mexico. His family moved to Lansing in 1952. For 3-decades, he ran Cristo Rey Community Center on the city’s north side.

Shortly before the dedication, Lansing council member Jody Washington recalled getting help there as a teenager.

((“I was incredibly hungry and my friends actually took me to Cristo Rey center to get something to eat," said Washington. "I’ve never forgotten it and it happened more than once.”

Lansing city council chambers, Tony Benavides
Credit Reginald Hardwick / WKAR Public Media
WKAR Public Media
Lansing City Council chambers in May 2019 were renamed after former mayor Tony Benavides.

Benavides was Lansing’s first Hispanic council member. He became the city's first Hispanic mayor in 2003.  

Elva Reyes is a family friend. She said Benavides’ becoming mayor in 2003 meant a lot to Lansing’s Latino community.

“It was very inspiring to see someone from our culture in politics," said Reyes. "We had Senators and people in Washington but here locally, we hadn’t seen that too much.”

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