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Michigan Municipal League
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 25, 2019
Burton Mayor Receives Guido Leadership Award
LANSING, Michigan — The Michigan Municipal League has honored Burton Mayor Paula Zelenko as the 2019 recipient of the Michael A. Guido Leadership and Public Service Award. The award was formally presented to Zelenko during the League’s annual Capital Conference Awards Gala March 19 in Lansing.
Since first being elected to the Burton City Council in 1991, Burton Mayor Paula Zelenko has always had a knack for getting things done against long odds. During three terms on city council, she held positions as president, vice president and Burton Parks and Recreation chair, while also working on multiple committees and with several community organizations.
“Impossible is not a word in Mayor Zelenko’s vocabulary, but persistence is,” said Rik Hayman, Burton’s chief of staff. “She just doesn’t give up on herself or her community. The City of Burton and the state of Michigan have greatly benefitted from Mayor Zelenko’s leadership and dedication to the people she serves. I’m proud to be part of her team.”
She served six years in the Michigan House of Representatives, where she was a strong advocate for senior citizens and the disabled. After being term-limited out of the Legislature, she returned to the Burton City Council in 2008. She was elected mayor in 2011. Mayor Zelenko has championed resolving some of her city’s biggest challenges, including: external and internal infrastructure issues; pension and retiree health care liabilities; fostering business development; and negotiating construction of a $65 million new General Motors facility. She found a way to invest in a $25 million water main replacement project, and another $1 million infrastructure project to aid Burton residents affected by the Flint Water Crisis.
Her accomplishments also extend statewide and nationally. In 2017, then-Governor Rick Snyder tapped Zelenko to serve on the Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government Task Force, where she added her strong voice to the panel tasked with making recommendations on pension and health care reforms. She worked shoulder to shoulder with the Michigan Municipal League and other organizations on this important issue. She’s been a long-time supporter and participant in League programs and events, currently serving as vice chair of the League’s Property Pool and Liability Board of Directors. Nationally, Mayor Zelenko is active with the US Conference of Mayors Water Council, National League of Cities, Beta Sigma Phi International Sorority, and various civic organizations.
Zelenko said she was honored to receive the award and also humbled because she knew the award’s namesake—former Dearborn Mayor Michael A. Guido—and his tremendous service and long-lasting impact on Michigan.
“Mike Guido lived by what he called ‘the Dearborn Way,’ which was cut your grass, look after your neighbor and have pride in your community,” Zelenko said. “All of our communities need to live by that and have the Burton Way, or the Port Huron Way or the Battle Creek way. To receive an award with his name on it is truly an honor.”
About the Guido Award: The Michael A. Guido Leadership and Public Service Award celebrates a chief elected official who personifies professionalism and leadership, is an active League member, is dedicated to the citizens in their community, and advocates on their behalf in Lansing and Washington, D.C.
About the League: Michigan Municipal Leagueis dedicated to making Michigan’s communities better by thoughtfully innovating programs, energetically connecting ideas and people, actively serving members with resources and services, and passionately inspiring positive change for Michigan’s greatest centers of potential: its communities. The League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington, D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services. Learn more at mml.org.