East Lansing City Council appoints first two African American councilmembers


EAST LANSING, Mich. — The East Lansing City Council appointed the city’s first two African American council members, Dana Watson and Ron Bacon, to serve as East Lansing’s new Councilmembers at an online meeting Saturday morning. It is expected that they will be sworn-in by East Lansing City Clerk Jennifer Shuster next week.

A total of 23 candidates applied for the vacant positions on Council and 13 were selected by Council for public interviews, which took place during two special, electronic meetings on Thursday, July 30 and Friday, July 31. The public appointment process included several opportunities for citizens to provide their input.

Watson and Bacon’s applications for Council can be viewed atEast Lansing’s City Council page here. Some of their background information is provided below:

Dana Watson has a background in public health and is currently serving as a health educator with the Ingham County Health Department. She also currently serves on the East Lansing Planning Commission and the Capital Area Housing Partnership, and she formerly served on the East Lansing Human Relations Commission. Watson holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Michigan State University and a Master of Science in human and social services from Walden University.

In her application for council, Watson wrote: “I am a mother of three and I bring experience as a co-parent, public health worker and person of color. I advocate passionately for those who are underserved and underrepresented. I come to the table with my own ideas. However, the most enjoyable parts of all the work I do is listening to the thoughts and needs of others while remaining considerate of those who agree, those who are torn and those who oppose.” Watson’s interview with Council can be viewed on the East Lansing City youtube page here.


Ron Bacon is a therapeutic area manager with Genentech Roche and holds a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice/sociology and a Master of Arts in organizational leadership from Saginaw Valley State University.

He has served on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Mid-Michigan since 2012 and is also presently serving on the East Lansing Educational Foundation. Additionally, Bacon is a former chair of the East Lansing Human Relations Commission.

In his application for council, he wrote: “I have served the community in many capacities and typically choose the areas of the underserved. I truly believe that all politics are local politics and much of the change that we need must be secured at the local level. I believe that I bring a diverse background in both the public and private sector that makes me uniquely qualified and prepared for public/private partnerships. I also have a keen sense of the socioeconomic, racial and even the current healthcare/public health crisis that is gripping our community and nation.” Bacon’s interview with Council can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/Io9vsL5suug?t=10245.

“We are looking forward to working closely with the two new members of Council and we appreciate their willingness to step up and serve at a time like this when we, along with many other local municipalities across the country, are facing significant challenges,” said East Lansing Mayor Aaron Stephens. “We also would like to thank the other individuals who applied for the vacancies. We had a tremendous pool of candidates, which I think speaks to the level of high caliber, civically engaged residents that we have here in East Lansing. We made history today and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

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