Jan. 10 2017 10:51 AM

City Council deadlocked over new leadership

For a deeper look at the issues dividing the City Council, see Wednesday’s print edition of City Pulse.

TUESDAY, Jan. 10 — Lansing City Council is split. After hours of back and forth debate, the body failed to come to a consensus on who would make up the leadership for this year.

Chris Swope, Lansing City Clerk and acting head of the body under the City Charter during the leadership selection process, said the eight-member Council deadlocked — four to four votes — seven times on Monday night.

He said officials voted to a draw twice on elevating Lansing City Councilwoman-at-Large Kathie Dunbar to the presidency; twice on elevating Carol Wood, another at-large City Councilwoman; once to place at-large Councilwoman Judi Brown Clarke back in the presiding chair; and once to place Patricia Spitzley, also an at-large member, in the position. The body also voted four to four on a motion to elevate Dunbar to the president’s role and 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tina Houghton to the vice presidency.

Dunbar characterized the split as an “aisle” in the Council, making a reference to different parties in Congress. On Dunbar’s side were Houghton, Spitzley and 4th Ward Councilwoman Jessica Yorko. On the other side were Wood, Brown Clarke, 3rd Ward Councilman Adam Hussain and 1st Ward Councilwoman Jody Washington.

There were eight additional motions offering various councilmember combinations for leadership. Those failed because one or both nominated members declined the offer.

The divide has been a longstanding issue on the Council, with the Wood contingent often painted as the “anti-Bernero” group, and Dunbar’s group painted as “pro-Bernero,” in reference to Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero.

Council will reconvene at 5:30 p.m. Thursday to continue the battle for leadership, Swope said. Whether the body can carry out any other business for the city remains unclear.

“It really hampers the ability of anybody to do anything,” he said. “That’s a detail we’ll have to confirm with the city attorney.”