LANSING (AP) — Teri Bernero remembers sitting in the car outside her Adrian College dorm with her future husband, talking about their dreams and aspirations.
"We were talking about how we both wanted to change the world. He wanted to do it through public service, and I said, 'Well, I'm going to do it through education,'" says Teri Bernero, now the principal of Lansing's Lewton Elementary School in Lansing.
The man she married, Virg Bernero, has spent the past two decades serving as a county commissioner, state lawmaker and Lansing mayor. He now has his eye on Michigan's top job: governor.
"I grew up wanting to make a difference, and believing that I could," Virg Bernero says. "The next governor is going to be tested in tough times. And that's why I feel I'm uniquely qualified."
The 46-year-old Democrat knows he sometimes comes across as too intense. The 1982 state high school debate champion was raised near Pontiac in an Italian-American family who set aside Sundays for church, hearty meals and boisterous discussions.
"You wouldn't sit around and watch TV. Everyone would gather around the kitchen table and the 'debating society' would start," Bernero recalls. "If you were going to come, you better be ready to defend yourself."
Jerry Hollister, the son of former Lansing Mayor Dave Hollister, is the chief operating officer of a high-tech startup company, Niowave. He says Bernero played an instrumental role in smoothing the way for the company to buy a former Lansing school and receive the tax breaks it needed to get started making specialty parts for superconducting particle accelerators.
Hollister isn't bothered by the mayor's in-your-face style. If Bernero wins the governorship, "I think he'd ruffle some feathers and I think he'd make things happen. That's what we need," the businessman said.
Bernero has tempered his brashness somewhat during his five years as mayor, although he still occasionally steps on toes. Beset with shrinking budgets that have forced him to slice $42 million, he has reached agreements with police and firefighters that have cut costs while avoiding layoffs.
City workers are taking unpaid furlough days and shutting city offices some Fridays to keep the budget balanced. In a spirit of shared sacrifice, the mayor has cut his pay 10 percent, decreased his office budget every year, cut his health care benefits and given up his city-owned car.
While some city unions are upset with him, the 600,000-member Michigan AFL-CIO and its 59 unions back his bid for governor. Bernero has helped attract or retain 6,000 jobs in the Lansing area.
and received the endorsements of the Lansing and Michigan chambers of commerce during his run for mayor. The state chamber now is backing his Republican opponent, Rick Snyder.
Bernero's close-knit family has always influenced his political passions. His 29-year-old brother, Victor, died of AIDS on Election Day 1990. The schizophrenia that has afflicted his 49-year-old brother, Vince, made mental health care "one of my passions," he says. When General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC were going through bankruptcy last year, this son of a retired GM worker vehemently defended the autoworkers on national TV.
"Angry? You bet I'm angry, because I've see the pain people are feeling and it's fueling me to do more for Michigan," Bernero says in one of his television ads. "We need a governor who's tough enough to stand up for Michigan and turn things around."
Eaton Rapids resident and University of Michigan student Evan Nichols said he's backing Bernero because of his stance on social issues and record in Lansing.
"He's gotten positive results for his city," said Nichols, 19. "He's strongly pro-choice. ... He's for gay rights."
Bernero wants to do away with the unpopular surcharge on the Michigan Business Tax, a move that would save businesses $500 million a year, and says businesses that don't make a profit shouldn't have to pay taxes.
He says universities should be tightening their belts more, as local governments have, rather than raising tuition. With two daughters in college, Bernero feels the pinch of higher college costs. He'd like to bring back the Michigan Promise college scholarship, and says he'd pay for it by getting Congress to let states go after companies that don't collect state taxes on their online sales.
But the Democrat also has a few ideas that are more far-fetched, such as creating a state-owned bank that could give loans to college students and businesses. He says the bank could ease the foreclosure crisis by buying down mortgage portfolios held by smaller banks in Michigan and join with other private banks on economic development projects. North Dakota set up a state-run bank in 1919, but it's the only one.
Bernero also wants to strike back at Wall Street banks, saying the state should get back the billion dollars sitting in an account at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and put the money into community banks and credit unions more likely to lend to small business owners.
He wants the state to stop doing business with some of the biggest Wall Street banks that have refused to participate in the state's program to help homeowners facing foreclosure restructure their loans and have the state impose a two-year foreclosure moratorium.
He doesn't save his anger at what he sees as major banks' refusal to lend in Michigan for union halls and Democratic rallies. During a recent appearance before the Detroit Economic Club, he told bankers in the audience that, under his governorship, "if you are part of the Wall Street greed that runs over people in the pursuit of ever-greater profits, and ever-bigger bonuses, then you and I are going to have a problem, because I've had it, and so have our state's people."
Bernero insists his anger at Wall Street doesn't carry over into an antibusiness attitude. He says he has a proven record on attracting businesses such as Niowave and will do all he can to attract more middle-class jobs.
"I'm here negotiating with General Motors. I'm negotiating with big business, small business, I'm talking to mom and pop shops," he says. "I'm ready to do that for the state of Michigan. I think we need somebody who can get under the hood and knows the nuts and bolts."
Bernero campaign: www.votevirg.com
LANSING (AP) — Teri Bernero remembers sitting in the car outside her Adrian College dorm with her future husband, talking about their dreams and aspirations.
Voters say they were harassed at polls
Police responded to two Garfield Township polling precincts on complaints that Grand Traverse Area Right to Life activists were harassing voters and obstructing traffic.Continued ...
Leelanau chairwoman loses bid
Leelanau County's board chairwoman failed in an effort to keep her seat through a write-in campaign, while four other board incumbents coasted to victory in the general election.Continued ...
Stepka wins tight race in 86th Dist.
Vote tallies remained tight late Tuesday, but unofficial results Wednesday showed Stepka beat Kevin Elsenheimer by a 24,091 to 22,940 mark.Continued ...
Leelanau Probate seat goes to Nelson
Leland lawyer Larry Nelson held off Suttons Bay attorney Marian Kromkowski by less than 300 votes in a hotly contested but respectful race to replace former Probate Judge Joseph Deegan.Continued ...
Governor-elect builds transition team
The day after his decisive win over Democratic Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, Michigan Gov.-elect Rick Snyder began building his transition team and looking ahead to the challenges he'll confront Jan. 1.Continued ...
Independents and Dems stay at home
About 3.3 million Michigan voters participated in Tuesday's election, far fewer than the 3.8 million that were expected, Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land said Wednesday.Continued ...
- November 3, 2010
Complete election returns by county
All tallies are now complete, but are unofficial until certified.Continued ...
Businessman elected governor
Michigan voters, whose state economy began declining earlier and sank deeper than almost any other in the nation, turned Tuesday to a Republican businessman for their next governor.Continued ...
Voters split on TCL&P proposals
City voters zapped a proposal to bring Traverse City Light & Power under complete city control, but approved another measure that will give residents the right to seek a vote on proposed power plants.Continued ...
Stepka beats out Elsenheimer for judge
A county commissioner surged past a term-limited state representative in Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties and appeared to have won a hotly contested race for a judicial seat on the 86th District Court.Continued ...
Voters: Economy was key
Michigan's weak economy propelled local voters to the polls, and they decided a bevy of local ballot issues.Continued ...
Hardy, Falconer lead in TCAPS race
A former Traverse City commissioner led five other candidates for a spot on Traverse City's school board, and a local businessman appeared the likely winner of the second seat.Continued ...
Two NMC incumbents headed to victory
Voters appeared to reward two incumbents by giving them both another term on the Northwestern Michigan College board.Continued ...
Richardson, Maxbauer return to GT board
A local party push and long Republican coattails couldn't unseat Grand Traverse County's single Democratic county commissioner.Continued ...
GT County backs senior millage
Voters overwhelmingly approved a measure that will merge two senior citizen organizations.Continued ...
GT County voters reject road millage
Voters bulldozed a proposed 1-mill tax levy that would have raised approximately $4.5 million annually to improve and repair Grand Traverse County roads.Continued ...
Nelson holds lead for Leelanau probate
A longtime Leland attorney appears to have won a race for a Leelanau County judgeship that's been vacant for 16 months.Continued ...
Booher downs Dunigan in 35th Senate
Republican State Rep. Darwin Booher handily defeated Democrat Roger Dunigan in the 35th District state senate race.Continued ...
Walker wins race for 37th Senate
An ex-state representative ran a campaign for the 37th state Senate race based on job growth and voters bought in.Continued ...
Incumbent officials win in Leelanau
Incumbent commissioners in Leelanau County easily turned back election challenges.Continued ...
Maples proposals appear to have passed
Proposals to fund operations and a new building for The Maples nursing home in Benzie County appear to have passed, preliminary election results show.Continued ...
Franz ousts Scripps in 101st rematch
State Rep. Dan Scripps couldn't hold off a wave of Republican support and trailed challenger Ray Franz in a stark reversal of a state House rematch from 2008.Continued ...
MacMaster claims 105th state House seat
A former television weatherman drenched his underfunded Democratic opponent to win the 105th House district seat.Continued ...
Benishek, Camp, Huizenga victorious
Republican Dan Benishek of Crystal Falls has won the race to succeed veteran Democrat Bart Stupak in Congress. In other northwestern Lower Michigan congressional races, Republican Dave Camp of Midland won an 11th term in Congress and Former state Rep. Bill Huizenga was the winner in the 2nd District.Continued ...
Schuette takes attorney general seat
Republican Bill Schuette has won the race for Michigan attorney general, easily defeating his Democratic opponent.Continued ...
Kelly, Young win Supreme Court races
Voters have re-elected incumbent Justice Robert Young Jr. and picked another Republican, switching control of the Michigan Supreme Court to conservatives.Continued ...
Johnson wins secretary of state seat
Ruth Johnson has kept Michigan's secretary of state office in Republican hands, handily defeating Democratic candidate Jocelyn Benson.Continued ...
- November 2, 2010
Local incumbents stay, go
By 11:30 p.m. tonight, votes counted so far showed the following contestants leading.Continued ...
Republicans lead in SOS, AG races
Republicans Ruth Johnson and Bill Schuette were leading in their races for Michigan secretary of state and attorney general.Continued ...
State's balance of power at stake
Michigan voters elected a new state Legislature on Tuesday as the state's term limits law forced a number of incumbents out of office.Continued ...
Snyder gives victory speech
Republican Rick Snyder says his election as Michigan's governor signals the start of an era of innovation for a state he says is broken.Continued ...
Benishek wins Stupak's old seat
Republican Dan Benishek of Crystal Falls has won the race to succeed veteran Democrat Bart Stupak in Congress.Continued ...
Voters reject constitutional convention
Michigan voters again have decided against allowing a broad rewrite of the state's 1963 constitution.Continued ...
Huizenga wins old boss Hoekstra's seat
Former state Rep. Bill Huizenga (HY'-zuhn-guh) of Zeeland is the winner in the 3rd District race.Continued ...
Bernero concedes to Snyder
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero has conceded the race to Republican businessman Rick Snyder.Continued ...
US Rep. Dave Camp cruises to 11th term
Republican Dave Camp of Midland has won an 11th term in Congress.Continued ...
Benishek leading in 1st District
In early returns, Republican Dan Benishek is leading state Rep. Gary McDowell.Continued ...
Snyder elected next Michigan governor
Rick Snyder, the Republican businessman who promoted himself as a political outsider able to ease the state's economic woes, has won the race to be Michigan's next governor.Continued ...
Residents take to the polls in big numbers
A crowded ballot of state offices, proposals, local races, millage requests and more drew voters to the polls today.Continued ...
- November 1, 2010
Redistricting plan at stake in election
Tuesday's election could have far-reaching implications in Michigan beyond the immediate winners and losers.Continued ...
Roughly 60% turnout expected
Gubernatorial elections generally attract more voters than in election years when that office isn't at stake, and Tuesday should be no different, Traverse City Clerk Debbra Curtiss said.Continued ...
- October 31, 2010
Raising campaign funds a tough job
Two Grand Traverse County board candidates, opponents for the same seat in Tuesday's election, raised more money for their campaigns than all other commission hopefuls combined.Continued ...
- Editorial: Our endorsement wrapup for Tuesday's elections
Nov. 2 election roundup
A roundup of candidates and issues on ballots in the Record-Eagle's 5-county area, with links to related coverage.Continued ...
- October 30, 2010
- Editorial: TC: No on Proposal 1 and yes on Proposal 2
Gov. hopefuls both back school change
The two leading candidates for Michigan governor agree the state's public schools need improvement, but Democrat Virg Bernero would more quickly restore funding for early childhood education and scholarships for college students than his opponent, Republican Rick Snyder.Continued ...
- Editorial: No on roads, yes on seniors
- October 29, 2010
Endorsement: Stepka for 86th Court
A clear choice emerged in a tough campaign to fill a judicial vacancy on the 86th District Court.Continued ...
Endorsement: Kromkowski for judge
We recommend Marian Kromkowski for Leelanau County Probate Judge.Continued ...
Endorsement: Three for GT board
In the three contested races for the Grand Traverse County board, voters have a chance to re-elect two commissioners who have been asking the tough questions and a newcomer who promises to do the same.Continued ...
Letters at Issue: Elections: 10/29/2010
Balanced the budget; Firm, fair, fatherly; Excellent judicial traits. (Plus more)Continued ...
Analysis: Flagrant foul on McDowell
Who: Gary McDowell. Featured Campaign Material: Television Ad. Truth Squad Call: Flagrant FoulContinued ...
Analysis: Benishek ad misleading
Who: Dan Benishek. Featured Campaign Material: Dan Benishek "Enough is Enough" TV Ad. Truth Squad Call: Technical Foul.Continued ...
Snyder has big lead in poll
Republicans are heading toward what could be a very good Election Day for them, according to an EPIC-MRA poll released Thursday. The poll shows Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder leading Democratic Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero.Continued ...
Turnout estimate: 3.8 million voters
Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land estimates about 3.8 million voters across the state will turn out for Tuesday's election.Continued ...
Twelve write-ins seek office
A smattering of write-in candidates will seek election Tuesday, though their names won't appear on ballots at local polling sites.Continued ...
- October 28, 2010
Record-Eagle endorses 3 for U.S. Congress
Record-Eagle endorsements for Michigan's 1st, 2nd and 4th Congressional Districts.Continued ...
Endorsements: Booher, Walker for Senate
Record-Eagle endorsements for the 35th and 37th Senate Districts.Continued ...
R-E endorses only Scripps in House races
For the 101st House District we recommend incumbent Democrat Dan Scripps. We can make no recommendation in the 104th or 105th House races.Continued ...
Letters at Issue: Elections: 10/28/2010
Would be a good judge; A hand-picked board; Experience, dedication. (Plus more)Continued ...
Analysis: Innuendo in GOP's Benson ad
What: Michigan Republican Party ad about Jocelyn Benson; Foul or no foul: Foul.Continued ...
Bernero, Snyder plan diverse cabinets
Whether voters pick Democrat Virg Bernero or Republican Rick Snyder as Michigan's next governor, the state's new department heads will likely be a diverse group.Continued ...
GOP spends big in Michigan
The National Republican Congressional Committee is spending big bucks to win back control of Congress, and nowhere is it spending more than in Michigan's 7th District.Continued ...
Michigan Proposal 1 a mystery to some
Some area residents know little about Michigan's Proposal 1, which would convene delegates to rewrite the state constitution.Continued ...
Dems file complaint against Benishek
Michigan Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer says his group is filing a complaint against Dan Benishek, saying the Republican congressional candidate used a private plane for campaign purposes.Continued ...
- October 27, 2010
District court campaign call criticized
Traverse City attorney Mike Stepka said his opponent, State Rep. Kevin Elsenheimer, falsely portrayed him as a liberal endorsed by local Democratic Party officials in a "robo" call created by one of Elsenheimer's supporters.Continued ...
Disagreement runs deep in court race
Kevin Elsenheimer and Mike Stepka don't agree on much in their increasingly contentious battle to replace Judge John Foresman on the 86th District Court.Continued ...
Falconer and Marois endorsed for TCAPS board
In a crowded and talented field of candidates for two seats on the Traverse City Area Public Schools Board of Education, two stand out — Erik Falconer and Mary Marois.Continued ...
Follette, Weaver recommended for NMC
The Northwestern Michigan College trustee race has a strong field of fair options, but we recommend incumbent Cheryl Gore Follette and Kennard Weaver.Continued ...
Letters at Issue: Elections: 10/27/2010
Independent candidate; More than 900 cases; Protecting jobs; Honest, hard-working; plus more.Continued ...
Bernero, Snyder in new spat over bridge
Democrat Virg Bernero said Tuesday that Republican rival Rick Snyder might try to sell the Mackinac Bridge if elected governor, drawing a quick denial from the GOP nominee.Continued ...
- October 26, 2010
Benson is best choice for Sec. of State
For Michigan's Secretary of State, the Record-Eagle recommends Jocelyn Benson.Continued ...
No clear choice for Attorney General
The Record-Eagle has chosen to make no recommendation in the race for Attorney General.Continued ...
'Yes' on both Michigan proposals
The Record-Eagle encourages a "yes" vote on Michigan's ballot proposals.Continued ...
- Letters at Issue: Elections: 10/26/2010
Snyder, Bernero meet with voters
With the election just one week away, Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder rode a hay wagon Monday and Democrat Virg Bernero met with Detroit homeowners.Continued ...
State Rep., GT official vie for judgeship
A county commissioner believes his opponent in the race for 86th District judge spent too many years in Lansing. The opponent, a state representative from Bellaire, contends he can utilize his experience on the bench.Continued ...
Supreme Court justice to speak in TC
A Michigan Supreme Court justice who seeks re-election, accused by ex-Justice Weaver of 'offensive conduct,' will speak to local voters today.Continued ...
State Proposal 1 forum to be held
A forum will be held to discuss state Proposal 1, which if approved would allow a convention to meet to amend Michigan's constitution.Continued ...
- October 25, 2010
Letters at Issue: Elections: 10/25/2010
Should be ashamed; Always accessible; The right stuff; Tough but fair; Creative leadership; and more letters about the Nov. 2 election.Continued ...
Clinton stumps for Bernero, Dingell
Former President Bill Clinton tied his Sunday pitch for Democratic candidates in Michigan to football, warning those in the audience that Democratic voters have to prepare for the Nov. 2 election as much as the unbeaten Michigan State Spartans have to prepare for their next opponent.Continued ...
- October 24, 2010
Little to lose by voting for Rick Snyder for governor
The issue: Michigan's race for governor; Our view: Rick Snyder is the best choiceContinued ...
Letters at Issue: Elections: 10/24/2010
Letters regarding the Nov. 2 general election.Continued ...
Op-Ed: Environment flies under radar
They vow to be good stewards of Michigan's natural resources and were endorsed in their gubernatorial primaries by the Michigan League of Conservation Voters — an increasingly active scorekeeper on such matters. But Republican businessman Rick Snyder and Democratic Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero have been relatively mum on these issues.Continued ...
Op-Ed: A better state constitution?
Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a liberal Democrat, has something in common with Tom George, one of the state senate's most conservative Republicans: They both think it is time for a Michigan to hold a convention and try to write a better state constitution.Continued ...
Two take on GOP's Schmidt in 104th
A retired teacher and a school board member with no party affiliation are taking on a well-funded incumbent Republican legislator for the state House.Continued ...
- October 23, 2010
Ex-GOP nominee endorses Democrat in 1st District
A Republican who once ran against Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak endorsed Democrat Gary McDowell on Friday to succeed Stupak in Congress.Continued ...
Forum: Reinvent Michigan by voting yes
We should take advantage of a rare opportunity to overhaul Lansing and reinvent Michigan by voting "yes" on Proposal 1, the call for a state constitutional convention.Continued ...
Analysis: Truth Squad cries foul on Snyder's TV ad
Michigan employment last peaked in June of 2000 when the state had 4,690,000 non-farm payroll jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.Continued ...
Analysis: State Democratic Party TV ad gets a foul
The Lansing metropolitan statistical area had the second-lowest jobless rate of the state's 17 MSAs in August, the last month for which statistics were available.Continued ...
- October 22, 2010
Letters at Issue: Elections: 10/22/2010
Letters regarding the Nov. 2, 2010 general election.Continued ...
Forum: 'Power to the people' not true
By BRADFORD A. PURCELL: "Power to the people," the mantra for the proponents of Traverse City Proposals 1 and 2, is not true.Continued ...
Next gov. will face large deficit
Both the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates say they don't plan to raise Michigan residents' taxes and that they'll cut business taxes so companies can create more jobs.Continued ...
Jobs are focus in race for 105th
A self-employed contractor won't rely on name recognition or his wallet to earn a seat atop the 105th state House District. Compare that stance to his opponent, a former television meteorologist with plenty of name recognition and endorsements from powerful state organizations.Continued ...
- October 21, 2010
Funds give Leelanau residents access to recycling centers
Leelanau voters will be asked Nov. 2 to approve a $29 annual recycling fee for 10 years.Continued ...
Unions back school board candidates
Three Traverse City Area Public Schools employee unions are backing two candidates for school board.Continued ...
- October 20, 2010
Letters at Issue: Elections: 10/20/2010
Deserves support; Dedicated public official; Patience, integrity; Taking the high roadContinued ...
GT millage would fund road repair
A tax bump to support road maintenance and repair doesn't bother Brenda Heerdt. Heerdt, of Acme Township, likely will support the Grand Traverse County Road Commission's millage request in the Nov. 2 election.Continued ...
Road commission raises already budgeted
Grand Traverse County road officials worry the portrayal of a pay raise for administrative staff could derail a millage request to raise about $4.5 million annually to repair and improve existing roads.Continued ...
- October 19, 2010
Letters at Issue: Elections: 10/19/2010
Level-headedness; Vote Republican; Concern for groundwater; Integrity, competencyContinued ...
- Voters say they were harassed at polls