Historic Vote Makes People Of Color Majority on EL City Council

Aug 1, 2020

The East Lansing City Council has selected its two newest members.  This follows the resignation of two council members, including the mayor, in July.


In a rare Saturday meeting, the council unanimously approved the appointments of Dana Watson and Ron Bacon. 


Watson is a health educator with the Ingham County Health Department. 


She also serves with the Capital Area Housing Partnership and the East Lansing Planning Commission. 


Bacon is a therapeutic area manager who formerly chaired the East Lansing Human Relations Commission. 


Both are African American. 


Mayor Aaron Stephens says their appointments are historic.


“We now have a city council that is a majority (of) people of color,” Stephens noted.  “I don’t think that’s ever happened before, and I want to take a moment to recognize that.  Because in this conversation about equity and this conversation in this country right now…it’s a beautiful thing.”


The new members will help lead a city facing an ongoing pandemic and a looming financial deficit. 


Fighting back tears, Mayor Pro Tem Jessy Gregg acknowledged their challenges.


“I don’t know if I should say congratulations or condolences to Dana and Ron for joining us,” said Gregg.  “This is going to be a really difficult year.  But I’m looking forward to serving with you.”


Watson and Bacon will each serve a partial term that ends in November 2021.


They’re expected to be sworn into office before the council’s next meeting on August 11.