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Lansing Councilman Brandon Betz resigns

Lansing City Council Member Brandon Betz
Brandon Betz
City of Lansing
Brandon Betz.

Lansing City Council Member Brandon Betz is stepping down.

He submitted his resignation "effective immediately" in an email Friday afternoon, hours after a judge ruled a recall process against Betz could proceed if organizers made minor changes to petition language.

Betz has been under fire since sending profane and combative texts to Black Lives Matter activist Michael Lynn, Jr. in February 2021. At the time, the rest of the Lansing City Council passed a non-binding resolution that condemned Betz's "inflammatory" behavior and asked him to "strongly" consider resigning.

But Betz remained on the council for almost a year until he sent an email just after 3:30 p.m. Friday.

"This last year has brought growth and realization in both my personal life and career," the email read in part. "I have had a major change of heart toward many causes I supported during my campaign. I decided last year to continue my tenure through the rest of the year to honor my commitment to my ward. I have come to the realization that I need to focus on my personal relationships and health."

Betz was halfway through a four-year term. The rest of the council has 30 days appoint a replacement to serve for the rest of this year until someone can be elected to fill Betz’s Ward 1 spot until 2024.

City Council will vote to formally accept Betz's resignation on Monday, Council President Adam Hussain said.

"This was not expected," Hussain said. "In terms of residents in the 1st Ward, citizens in the 1st Ward, I want them to understand that we are going to work very hard to make sure that this is an inclusive and transparent process."

A group of residents had been trying to unseat Betz over his texts to Lynn, but Ingham County’s Election Commission rejected petition language that would have started the recall process.

Following an appeal, however, Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Clinton Canady determined Friday that language should be approved, assuming typos are fixed.

Prior to Betz's resignation, recall backer Elizabeth Abdnour said she was thrilled with Canady's ruling. Organizers planned to submit a revised version of the petition language using the exact language suggested by Canady, she said.

"The fact that he literally typed into his order, you know, ‘Use this language and this will be clear,’ I thought that was fantastic," Abdnour said. "He was basically saying, like, ‘Here you go, you should not have any more problems.'"

Assuming the language was approved and organizers gathered enough signatures, a recall election could have happened as early as this year.

Abdnour accused Betz of not being responsive to constituents following the negative attention over his text messages. And she says he hasn't lived up to his progressive promises.

"He also had run on the promise of trying to, you know, push back against Mayor Andy Schor," Abdnour said "And he has now completely aligned himself with Schor and seems almost just like a lackey to him."

Betz did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sarah Lehr is a state government reporter for Wisconsin Public Radio.
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