Former staffer glad she shared her harassment story, but doubts Bernero has changed
LANSING — Liz Hart, one of five women who have accused Virg Bernero of sexual harassment, says she hopes sharing her story will change Lansing’s culture for the better.
Yet she’s skeptical of Bernero’s assertion that he’s a changed man.
Bernero withdrew from the 2021 Lansing mayoral race Sunday before MLive published a story in which three women spoke on the record, detailing experiences of being sexually harassed by Bernero.
His announcement, made in a statement posted to Facebook, shook up the mayoral race, as did an announcement from four-term City Council member Kathie Dunbar that she will run for mayor rather than seek a fifth council term.
Candidates have until 4 p.m. Tuesday to file to run in the Nov. 2 election.
Hart joined the mayor’s office under Bernero as a recent college graduate before leading fundraising for his re-election campaign in 2013. In the MLive interview, she described fending off his sexual comments and questions and ignoring his repeated late night phone calls.
Bernero did not respond to requests for comment from the State Journal on Sunday or Monday. He was Lansing’s mayor from 2006 until 2018. He didn’t seek re-election in 2017, saying he wanted to take time to focus on his family.
“I was running as a better man than the one who left office 4 years ago, but not a perfect man,“ Bernero said in a statement posted to Facebook Sunday. “My wife and family have forgiven me for the mistakes of the past, but politics is less forgiving.”
Hart said in a Monday interview with the Lansing State Journal that Bernero’s statement left her disappointed but not angry.
‘My first thought was, “Why did you never apologize to me?’” Hart told the State Journal. If he was a changed man, she said, “you wouldn’t deny it and you would address it up front.”
Hart said she received a notification “a month or so ago” after Bernero viewed her LinkedIn profile.
“I know he remembers me,” Hart said. “I have talked to a couple people from Lansing and I know he’s mentioned my name in the last month.”