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Leadership dispute rattles City Council

Peter Spadafore expected to nab vice presidency


FRIDAY, Jan. 4 —A new vice president will likely be installed on Lansing’s City Council next week, but not without the vehement objection of one councilwoman who’d much rather have her son take the job.

Council Vice President Jody Washington anticipates that Councilman Peter Spadafore will be elected on Monday to fill her role while Council President Carol Wood remains at the wheel for another year. The votes are already tallied, but she plans to vote against the maneuver and claimed Spadafore to be unfit for leadership.

“Peter Spadafore decided that he was the only one qualified to lead the Council and promised a gridlock if he didn’t get what he wanted,” Washington added. “He has some serious issues with leadership. I cannot in good conscious support him for any leadership roles in any position. There are just glaring problems out there.”

Washington declined to elaborate on her problems with Spadafore but noted that she repeatedly chastised him behind closed doors since he was elected to the Council in November 2017. She instead suggested her son, Councilman Adam Hussain, would be a better fit for the role as the Council’s vice president.

She also emphasized that her familial relationship with Hussain wasn't a factor in her advocacy. It was instead based entirely on his "strong" leadership abilities and continued dedication to city residents.

Hussain said he and Spadafore met before the holidays to discuss the upcoming election. Ultimately, they decided to rally behind a choice that would garner majority support — and Spadafore was the frontrunner. The collective goal: Keep the city rolling smoothly forward into a new year, Hussain said.

Besides, Hussain didn't want to repeat the leadership elections of 2017 where discussions over the positions continued for hours only to be met with deadlocked votes. Every councilmember at the time was eventually nominated and turned down for the two roles before a final decision could be reached.

The "acrimony and bitterness" from that debate never seemed to fully dissipate, Hussain added.

“I think that Councilmember Washington and I have different opinions about how a leader should act,” Spadafore said. “I’ve worked tirelessly to build relationships on the Council. I think I’ve had very productive conversations with every member on the Council, maybe except for Councilmember Washington.”

Spadafore served as board president at the Lansing School District and chairs the Council’s Committee on Public Services. He’s also served on the Committee on Intergovernmental Relations, the Ad Hoc Committee on Housing, the Tri-County on Aging Consortium Board and the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission.

Wood declined to speculate ahead of a Council vote at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting. She also said she didn’t want to “get in the middle of it” until everything was formally locked into place after the subsequent City Council meeting later that night.

“You just never know what could happen,” Wood added.

Councilmembers Brian Jackson, Jeremy Garza and Patricia Spitzley said they weren't involved in preliminary discussions. Other councilmembers didn’t return calls for comment. Spitzley also said Washington’s accusations against Spadafore are “complete nonsense” and will invariably lead to a loss of productivity on the City Council.

“Those types of statements and allegations are just counterproductive,” Spitzley added.

Visit lansingcitypulse.com for continued coverage at the City Council meeting next week.

Editor's Note: This story was updated to include comments from Hussain and to further elaborate on Washington's position.


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