April 6 2017 02:02 PM

Former Lansing Council president files for mayor’s race despite woes

Former Lansing City Councilman Harold Leeman Jr. watches as local television stations set up for the announcement of his bid to be the mayor of Lansing.
Todd Heywood/City Pulse

THURSDAY. April 6 — Lansing’s own Don Quixote — Harold Leeman Jr. — is back in the saddle again, tilting at the windmill of become Lansing’s next mayor.

Leeman, who is facing embezzlement charges and home foreclosure, acknowledged his bid was a longshot at a kickoff press conference today at Corey’s Restaurant. But he said he got into the race because he thinks “there needs to be a primary so people know where the candidates stand instead of waiting until November.”

As the third candidate, his decision forces a primary. Without him, state Rep. Andy Schor and Councilwoman Judi Brown Clarke could skip the primary.

The nearly 60-year-old former 1st Ward Councilman surrounded himself with doctored yard signs declaring his mayoral race. The signs were from previous Council races, but when he challenged Mayor Virg Bernero in 2013, he printed up some stickers and slapped them over the “for City Council” part of the sign. No one stood at Leeman’s side; only media were in attendance for his announcement.

He served 12 years on the Council before being ousted by Eric Hewitt in 2009 by a handful of votes. It was his race to lose, and he did so by barely campaigning door to door. He figured name recognition was enough. Since then, Leeman has been a perennial candidate, each time falling far short.

Despite that, he said “anything could happen” because of the relatively low turnout off year municipal elections draws.

He enters the race not only as an oft-cited also-ran, but with serious legal issues hanging over his head. On March 1, he was charged with embezzling from the Lansing Parks Department. His father’s estate has also begun foreclosure proceedings against Leeman for his eastside residence.

You can hear how he hopes to challenge Schor and Brown Clarke. He also discusses his health and legal issues.

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