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City Council renames chambers for Tony Benavides

City honors ‘legacy of hard work’ of former Lansing mayor


MONDAY, May 6 — Lansing won’t soon forget former City Councilman and Mayor Tony Benavides.

After a ceremony this evening to honor the “legacy of hard work, dedication and courage” of the 82-year-old retired elected official, the Lansing City Council unanimously voted to rename its chambers in his name. And Lansing Mayor Andy Schor has officially proclaimed today’s date as “Mayor Tony Benavides Day” to boot.

Benavides looked on with a smile.

A memorial plaque alongside new bold lettering printed above the chamber entranceway was also unveiled. The 10th floor of Lansing City Hall was packed to capacity to celebrate Benavides’ lasting impact on the capital city.

“Benavides has been a consummate professional, has been dedicated to this city and has a kind heart and integrity — something we should all strive for,” said Council President Carol Wood. “It will forever be known as the Tony Benavides Council Chambers. We’re honored to be able to do that on behalf of a great leader."

Benavides was the first Hispanic member of the Council and served the city for more than 20 years. He also became the first — and only — member of the Latinx community to serve as mayor in 2003 when David Hollister resigned for a cabinet position during Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s administration.

Benavides won the remainder of Hollister’s term in a special election. Then-State Sen. Virg Bernero defeated Benavides two years later.

"It’s my honor to honor and celebrate a long-standing city councilman and former mayor," Schor said tonight. "It's someone whose shoes are large that I have to try to fill, but I'm doing it the best I can to make him proud."

Latinx community leader Lorenzo Lopez said Benavides built his life on several key principles: Making sure people are properly clothed, fed, educated and housed. Benavides was also a powerful voice for otherwise underrepresented communities within the city during his time on the Council and as mayor, Lopez said.

“We’ve worked together tirelessly and with courage to create an institution called Cristo Rey Church and the Cristo Rey Community Center,” Lopez added. “Our lives have been dedicated to serving those principal ideals.”


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