Greg Venker approved as Lansing city attorney after one-month delay

Replaces James Smiertka, who served two mayors for 18 years


TUESDAY, May 7—Lansing’s City Council unanimously approved last night the appointment of Greg Venker as city attorney after delaying a vote on Mayor Andy Schor’s choice for nearly a month.

The Council tabled a resolution to appoint Venker as James Smiertka’s successor April 8 after some members wanted more time to meet with the candidate.

Schor cited Venker’s experience before joining the city as an assistant city attorney in 2017 as a key factor in his decision. Venker, 41, spent nine years practicing law in Wisconsin, including six as a state prosecutor and three at a private law firm. The Arizona native earned his juris doctor at Washington University in St. Louis and was promoted to deputy city attorney last year.

Council members also voted to waive a provision that required Venker to have 16 quarter hours of college-level coursework in supervisory management, with the resolution noting that he “has otherwise been vetted.”

Smiertka, 78, served from 1994 to 2004 and again from 2016 until March. Venker served as interim city attorney. 

Schor said today that Venker  "knows the issues facing our city and, most importantly, knows our City Charter and ordinances that guide and govern our actions, and I am proud to have him officially on board.”

Venker, who noted that he “enjoys public work more than private,” said he was looking forward to the new challenge.

“It’s a lot of work, but I’m excited to do it,” he said.  “We’ve got a strong law office, and I want to keep that tradition we’ve set and carry it forward.”


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