"History matters. It matters when a student reaches full potential. Chicana/o Studies has a rich fund of knowledge that should be shared with everyone. It holds the key to the dropout problem that Chicano Studies set out to stem...The tragedy of what has beset Chicana/o Studies, and indeed the education of the Chicana/o, is that ignorance is winning out. History has been erased, and over fifty years of research on how to teach Mexican Americans has been ignored." - Rodolfo F. Acuna
1/1/03 Tony Benavides is sworn in as the first Xicanx Mayor of Lansing.
1/2/03 Benavides decides to run for the last two years of Hollister’s term.
2/22/03 Xicano Development Center staff talks with Benavides at Dia de la Mujer conference agrees to drop the Cesar Chavez street name change until after the Nov. election.
3/03 Benavides hires Scott Hughes as Campaign Manager and Kathy Dunbar as campaign coordinator. Hughes works for Ingham county prosecutor Stuart Dunnings. Dunbar is linked to conservative councilperson Carol Wood and Lansing area Lobbyist Mark Latterman.
3/03 Melot, Derek, “People pass on Lansing Politics” Lansing State Journal. 29 April 2004. Internet - State Rep. Michael Murphy announces his intentions to run for mayor of Lansing. Former Mayor David Hollister endorses Tony Benavides for Mayor.
4/03 - Word begins to disseminate among the Xicano community that the Benavides campaign is in trouble.
5/2/03 XDC members contact Kathy Dunbar begins to work on campaign.
5/9/03 Xicano activist meeting at Todd Mireles’ house. Dunbar utters the famous “this just can’t be about Mexicans” line. XDC is activated on Benavides behalf as a result.
5/13/03 Murphy drops out of mayor’s race citing family issues. State Senator Virgil Bernero quickly announces his candidacy despite the fact he was elected to his current position less than five months ago.
6/03 Hughes and Dunbar both resign 8 weeks before the primary. Tim Russ is hired as campaign coordinator. Benavides campaign appears to be floundering.
6/03 Benavides hires Sharon Ellis a local political consultant six weeks before the August primary.
6/25/03 Melinn, Kyle. “In Lansing mayor’s race momentum on Virg’s side. City Pulse. 25 June 2004. 4 - City Pulse runs article-claiming momentum in mayor’s campaign on Bernero’s side. Points to local activist Christine Timmons as the source of the ‘race rumor.’
7/2/03 Melinn, Kyle. “Bernero seeks to put rumor to rest about daughters schooling” City Pulse 2 July, 2003. 4 - First article in local media challenging the “whisper campaign” appears in the City Pulse. Mayoral candidate Melissa Sue Robinson is named as the primary culprit. Also mentions former Rep. Paul DeWeese mentioned situation in 2002 campaign.
7/16/03 Mireles, Ernesto. “Diverging from the truth” City Pulse. 16 July 2003. 3,5 - Letter from Todd Mireles appears in the City Pulse questioning Bernero on the subject of his daughter’s school. Letter later becomes a center of controversy. Benavides also begins to publicly call for a living wage.
7/23/03 Mayoral candidates appear on WDBM 88.9 as part of a weekly radio show hosted by the editor of the City Pulse, Berl Schwartz. They will answer questions received from City Pulse readers.
7/26/03 Martin, Tim “Bernero outpacing rivals in mayoral money race” LANSING STATE JOURNAL. 26 July 2003. Internet - Journal article show Bernero is already well ahead in fundraising. He has raised $71,065 to Benavides $53,158.
A group of 18 black pastors endorse Benavides for mayor. No media coverage is given of the event.
7/30/03 Martin, Tim “Benavides, Bernero win endorsements as primary nears” LANSING STATE JOURNAL. 30 July 2003. Internet - Teamsters local 580 representing city workers endorse Benavides for mayor. They later play a key role in the ground campaign.
Editorial. “For Bernero” City Pulse. 30 July 2003. 3 - The City Pulse formally endorses State Senator Virgil Bernero for mayor of Lansing.
8/4 – 6/03 Benavides begins airing TV commercials questioning Bernero’s commitment to Lansing because his daughters attend school in East Lansing.
8/6/03 Sarah, Frank. “Benavides, Bernero take primary” The The State News. 6 August 2003. A1 - Benavides wins primary by 56 percent outdistancing Bernero’s 38 percent by 18 points. The shock in Lansing political circles is palatable. Neither the Lansing State Journal nor the City Pulse carry headlines mentioning Benavides victory.
8/03 Bernero replaces MSU James Madison senior Nate Engle with Dennis Denno, chief of staff for State Senator Buzz Thomas (D – Detroit).
8/03 Tim Russ, John Moralez and Todd Mireles meet with Benavides and Sanchez to talk about the direction of the campaign and what’s being done. They offer ‘suggestions.’ (appendix)
9/12/03 Timmons, Christine. “Mayor Benavides signs away poverty” Capitol City Political Journal. 24 Sept. 2003. 1 - Benavides signs an executive order for a living wage that will cover all full and part time employees with a city of Lansing service contract.
9/9/03 Melinn, Kyle. “Rumor dogging Bernero in Lansing’s Black community” City Pulse. 10 Sept. 2004. 25 - The Black and Latino State Democratic caucuses respectively endorse Benavides at a joint press conference at the State Capital. This is the first time both caucuses have endorsed jointly in a local election. Both Bernero and Benavides are Democrats. The mayor’s race is nonpartisan.
9/17/03 McCurtis, James. “Racism rumors hit mayoral campaign” LANSING STATE JOURNAL. 17 Sept. 2004. A1 - Articles in the City Pulse and Lansing State Journal feature ex-campaign coordinator Kathy Dunbar claiming Benavides volunteers started race rumor article points specifically to Todd Mireles. Mireles is now the third person in a month to be named as the source for the rumor.
9/17/03 Benavides holds his first public fundraiser in almost two months. Over 400 people attend spaghetti dinner at Cristo Rey Church in the shadow of the race article.
9/18/03 Editorial. “Race Card” LANSING STATE JOURNAL. 18 Sept. 2003. 10A Lansing State Journal run editorial urging Benavides to expel volunteers “whispering race.” Bernero later photocopies editorial and uses them in his door-to-door campaign.
9/24/03 Melinn, Kyle. “Bernero calls for closer look at city funds for nonprofits” City Pulse. 24 Sept. 2004. 3 - City Pulse article runs where Bernero calls for almost 1 million dollars to be withdrawn from local non-profits receiving city funding. Article later becomes the basis of a flyer for the Benavides campaign. (The High Cost of Virg Bernero)
9/26/03 Lambert, Tom. “Benavides fined $7K after filing reports late” LANSING STATE JOURNAL. 26 Sept. 2003 - Benavides campaign is fined $7k for filing campaign reports late.
9/30/03 Murphy, Shannon. “Lansing living wage faces lawsuit” LANSING STATE JOURNAL. 30 Sept. 2003. Internet - The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce sues Benavides in Circuit Court claiming he overstepped his authority as mayor by signing the executive order for the living wage.
10/1/03 Editorial. “Living Wage” LANSING STATE JOURNAL. 1 October 2003. 8A - Lansing State Journal editorial is written against the living wage ordinance. LANSING STATE JOURNAL calls on city council to vote against the ordinance.
10/1/03 City Pulse article arguably the only positive Benavides article of the entire 52 issue 2003 print run – subtitles “Chicano pride driving factor in mayor’s race.”
10/3/03 Melinn, Kyle. “You couldn’t stop these people with a steamroller” City Pulse. 1 October 2003. 8 - Bernero spaghetti dinner is rescheduled from donated space in the city’s South Precinct/Community Center after community activist Christine Timmons brought it to the attention of the city attorney.
10/15/03 Lambert, Tom. “Benavides, Bernero spar in first forum before voters” LANSING STATE JOURNAL. 16 October 2003. A1 - Benavides and Bernero meet in the first of three debates. This debate was sponsored by the League of Women Voters and was held at Lansing Community College Dart Auditorium.
10/19/03 Lambert, Tom. “Poll shows Benavides’ lead narrows” LANSING STATE JOURNAL. 19 October 2003. A1 - Lansing State Journal runs front-page article saying Benavides lead in the mayoral race is down to 9 percent. There are sixteen days left in the campaign.
10/20/03 Benavides and Bernero squared off at WKAR in the only televised debate of the campaign. Benavides bombs – public perception began to shift quickly.
10/24/03 Leach, Hugh. “19 Black pastors support Bernero” LANSING STATE JOURNAL. 24 October 2003. B1 - lead article in Local and State says 19 black pastors back Bernero. No mention was ever made of the Black pastors supporting Benavides when they announced.
10/24/03 Lambert, Tom. “Mayor could be violating election law” LANSING STATE JOURNAL. 24 October 2003. A1 - front page below the fold headline reads “Mayor could be violating election law” entire story is based on allegations made by Bernero supporter. No complaints had been filed at the time of publication.
10/26/03 Editorial. “Bernero has the energy, leadership Lansing needs” LANSING STATE JOURNAL 26 October 2003. 12A - LANSING STATE JOURNAL endorsed Virgil Bernero for mayor of Lansing.
10/28/03 Melinn, Kyle. “In the end – as at the outset – it’s experience vs. vision” City Pulse. 29 October 2003. 5 - Benavides and Bernero meet in last debate of the campaign. Event is held at the New Mt. Calvary Baptist Church and is sponsored by the NAACP.
12/2/03 Melinn, Kyle. “Benavides survives surge by Virg” City Pulse. 5 November 2004. 5 - U.S Representative John Conyers appears in local black churches with Virgil Bernero in an apparent endorsement of him as candidate.
12/3/03 Melinn, Kyle. “Benavides survives surge by Virg” City Pulse. 5 November 2004. 5 - After much discussion with prominent Black democrats Conyers returns to Lansing to publicly endorse Mayor Tony Benavides.
12/4/03 Lambert, Tom. “Minority vote had major role in mayor’s win” LANSING STATE JOURNAL. - Tony Benavides is elected mayor of Lansing by 258 votes, 11,789 to 11,531.