Democrats to Betz: Resign so Lansing can ‘move forward without distractions’

Ingham Co. Democratic Party blasts Lansing City Councilman over ‘crude’ language

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WEDNESDAY, Feb. 17 — The Ingham County Democratic Party passed a resolution tonight that urged Lansing City Councilman Brandon Betz to resign following his “inflammatory, crude and inappropriate language” with a co-leader of the Lansing chapter of Black Lives Matter.

“Betz’ behavior reflects poorly on himself and our community” and reduces his “ability to fulfill the obligations of a member of the Lansing City Council,” according to portions of the resolution, which passed after a brief discussion by a nearly unanimous, uncounted spoken vote.

“The Ingham County Democratic Party encourages Betz to consider resigning his position on the City Council so that it may move forward without the distractions of his behavior,” it reads.

Betz has been under fire this month after he sent a string of text messages to Black Lives Matter activist Michael Lynn Jr. calling him a “dickbag troll who no one listens to” and a “weak ass bitch” who only wants more political clout. Lynn repeatedly asked Betz to stop sending him messages. Betz kept them coming and ended the chat with: “I don’t represent assholes.”

Days later, the City Council passed a censure resolution that “strongly suggests” Betz resign and be stripped of his role on two Council committees, a move that Council President Peter Spadafore implemented immediately. The Lansing chapter of Black Lives Matter and the Lansing Democratic Socialists of America have also condemned Betz and called for him to quit.

Betz also lost his job as a policy analyst with the Michigan League for Public Policy after the text message exchange with Lynn went public. His employer said they had “agreed to part ways.” Lansing Mayor Andy Schor also denounced Betz’ remarks at a City Council meeting this month.

In a text message last Tuesday, Betz said he would resign “if that’s what my constituents want.” He was assessing the blowback from Alaska last week and has asked to be excused from Council meetings for the rest of the month. His last absence was marked as unexcused.

Betz didn’t respond to questions this week, including those about the latest resolution. His absence from Council business has since triggered a 60-day window written into city charter after which the Council could force Betz to forfeit office and appoint his replacement.

Lynn said he also filed an ethics complaint against Betz. If he is found to have intimidated or threatened a member of the public, he could be slapped with a misdemeanor — additional grounds for office forfeiture. The next meeting of the Ethics Board is March 9 at 5:30 p.m.

Either by forfeit, resignation or otherwise, Betz’ departure from office would trigger an appointed replacement from the City Council that would serve until the end of the year. A special election would then be held in November to fill the remainder of his four-year term through 2023.

Betz ousted former 1st Ward Councilwoman Jody Washington by about 300 votes in 2019.

“Unlike the Republican Party, the Democratic Party holds its elected officials to a standard,” said Party Chairman and City Clerk Chris Swope. “That’s why I think this is an important resolution.”

Dianne Holman voted against the resolution, labeling it “premature” before Betz could respond.

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