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Brookover becomes East Lansing's mayor as the City Council seats new members

The East Lansing City Council poses for a photo following the election of the three new members to the body.
Arjun Thakkar
The East Lansing City Council poses for a photo following the election of the three new members to the body.

Updated on Nov. 15 at 10:16 a.m. ET

East Lansing's City Council welcomed three new members to the group Tuesday night and elected its fifth mayor in less than five years' time.

City officials administered the oath of office to three new members who voters elected last week to hold seats on the council — Kerry Ebersole Singh, Mark Meadows and Erik Altmann.

The group voted unanimously to select City Councilmember George Brookover for mayor.

It's also a position that was held by his father, Wilbur Brookover, from 1971 to 1975.

A collage of the East Lansing City Councilmembers taking the oath of office.
Arjun Thakkar
(from bottom left going clockwise) Kerry Ebersole Singh, Erik Altmann and Mark Meadows took the oath of office to serve as East Lansing City Councilmembers. George Brookover (bottom right) took the oath after being elected Mayor.

Members then voted 3-2 to elect Ebersole Singh as Mayor Pro Tem, the second-in-command role. Brookover had nominated Councilmember Dana Watson for the role.

Following the election, Rebecca Kasen, who ran for the council and was observing from the audience, spoke out of order and accused the members of discriminating against Watson, a Black woman.

"This is just racism, nobody deserves it more than Dana," Kasen said. "I'll see myself out. A bunch of racist, old, white men."

Ebersole Singh thanked women in the community who encouraged her to run for the seat.

“You can navigate being a mother, being a professional and servicing your community on council, and without their support and those early words, I would not have decided to move forward,” she said.

Altmann is making a return to the council after he lost a re-election bid in 2019. He said he’s eager to get back to work.

“I think we have a great team in place, and I think we will be able to be responsive to the call of this election, which is to govern competently and maybe be a little bit boring," Altmann said.

Councilmembers also gave a thumbs-up to a recommendation giving themselves a boost to their salaries.

The group voted 4-1 to adopt a recommendation for raises from the Elected Officers Compensation Commission, a body responsible for determining council's salary. Members will receive two $400 increases in their salaries over the next two fiscal years.

The current salary for members is $8,670 and $10,200 for the mayor. The move sets the mayor’s salary at $11,000 starting next July. Councilmembers will earn just under $9,500.

Meadows, who formerly served on the council but resigned in 2020, said the change makes it easier for residents to consider serving with the group.

“I hope that the people of the community recognize that this isn’t a lot of money, but it does encourage people to put their name in for this position," Meadows said. "This is not just something you put on your resume. This can be a lot of work."

Editor's Note: The City of East Lansing is a financial supporter of WKAR.

Corrected: November 15, 2023 at 10:16 AM EST
A previous version of this story stated that the Mayor of East Lansing has more authority in deciding what issues come before the City Council agenda. This is false, and the story has been updated to remove that statement.
Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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