Category Archives: Election

Wyoming voters approve library millage flexibility for park needs

Four of City of Wyoming’s parks will now have funding for improvements and renovations after voter action Tuesday.

By K.D. Norris

ken@wktv.org 

 

City of Wyoming voters on Tuesday, May 2, approved a ballot proposal to allow the city to utilize .16 of its .39 library maintenance millage to put toward some of the $23 million in park needs. The unofficial vote results were 2,982 to 2,214, or about 57 percent in support of the proposal.

 

Gezon Park is one of four parks in line for improvements and renovations.

According to the city, the nearly $800,000 per year raised can now be used to pay a 15-year bond of $4.4 million. The bond money would be dedicated for park improvements at Ideal, Jackson, Ferrand, and Gezon. The current Parks and Recreation millage of 1.5 mills annually captures $2.9 million, which is used to fund recreation programs, maintenance services and basic facility upkeep.

 

“We are very pleased that the citizens of Wyoming have given us the flexibility to invest in our park system,” Rynbrandt said. “By allowing us to change the way we spend our dedicated library maintenance millage, we can make significant capital improvements in four parks: Ferrand, Gezon, Ideal and Jackson.

 

“This will be a multi-year process with an eye to have all projects completed within the next four years. Residents will start to see physical improvements to one or more of the parks as early as next spring.”

 

Current library maintenance

 

The request was not an increase in the amount of library millage collected and will not reduce the City’s ability to maintain the Kent District Library branch at 3350 Michael Ave. SW.

 

The library maintenance millage is only to maintain the actually facility, which is owned by the City of Wyoming. Kent District Library operates the library services and owns the collection. Operations of the library and the collection are funded through a Kent District Library millage, which is a 1.28 mill levy, which covers all 18 branches within the KDL system.

 

The city recently completed more than $650,000 in renovations to the library facility that includes a new roof and the revamping of the former cafe to a public space. Upon review, city staff determined that there would be no major renovation projects needed for the library facility within the next 10 years, Rynbrandt said prior to the vote.

 

Park needs and plans

With funding for park work now approved, plans for work can now begin.

“We are eager to begin, as there is much to do,” Rynbrandt said. “Our next steps will include formulating individual project timelines which will range from a public engagement process to update the Gezon Park development plan, to engaging engineers, landscape architects and other consultants in the creation of construction documents and processing of necessary permits for each unique park development.

“We’ll be regularly updating the community through the Parks and Recreation Commission, City Council, the Parks and Recreation brochure and social media.”

Every five years, the City of Wyoming meets with residents and city staff to review needs at its parks. Through that process, the city has recognized more than $23 million in park improvements. In 1994, Wyoming residents did grant a park millage which for the past 20 years the city has been able to invest and maintain the parks without an increase, Rynbrandt said.

 

However, within four years the city has had several natural disasters — a 2013 flood, and 2014 and 2016 tornados — which has created a greater need, Rynbrandt said. Ideal Park was severally impacted from the 2014 tornado with its playground equipment destroyed. The city was able to remove much of the debris and get the park reopened only to have the 2016 tornado cause more damage.

 

Jackson Park also was impacted by the tornados but also has a need for better stormwater control along with improved security and safety. Ferrand Park is a small pocket park that has not have any major improvements in a number of years and Gezon Park is surrounded by intense residential growth with the central area of the park needing to be developed.

 

 

Kent County selects new voting machines; plans roll-out by November

Kent County will have new voting machines in place by wall of this year. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris

ken@wktv.org

 

Kent County, and the cities of Wyoming and Kentwood, will have new voting machines in place by later this year as part of a Michigan state-wide upgrade of voting machines — and City of Wyoming clerk Kelli VandenBerg says she is pleased with the selection process and anticipates local voters will be pleased with their new experience.

 

Voting machines in the cities of Wyoming and Kentwood will look similar to ones the public is used to, but they will be more “user friendly”. (Supplied)

“Any resident who has voted in the precinct will notice that this is new equipment – but that doesn’t mean there will be a steep learning curve or longer lines at the polls,” VandenBerg said in an interview with WKTV. “One of the key aspects in selecting this particular vendor is that the technology is much improved over our old equipment. This equipment is also much more user friendly.”

 

After a months-long review and selection process, and after the State of Michigan approved three qualified vendors, Kent County Clerk and Register of Deeds Lisa Posthumus Lyons recently announced Dominion Voting Systems, Inc. as the vendor of choice for Kent County’s purchase of new election equipment.

 

According to a press release from the county clerk’s office , the new voting machines will first be used by all local voting bodies in Kent County starting with the November 2017 election. Some clerks across the state reportedly plan to use their new machines as early as the August 2017 election. All municipalities are required to have the new machines in place by the August 2018 election.

 

“My priority for Kent County’s new election system is to provide high quality equipment, the assurance of security, and a positive experience for the voter; each of the systems we considered would accomplish this in unique ways,” Lyons said in supplied material. “At the end of the day, my decision came down to the reliability and customer service for which Dominion is known, and its partnership with ElectionSource, an election services provider located right here in Kent County, which also has a proven track record for first class service.”

 

Lyons said here decision was based on input from local municipal clerks; improved features of the machines and software, including election-night result reporting for the public; high-speed absentee ballot-counting capabilities for local jurisdictions; and overall cost. Working with a local vender was also high on her list.

 

“We are supporting our local economy by working with a business located in our own back yard,” Lyons said in the press release.

 

“Kent County is very fortunate that our Elections Director (Susan deSteiguer) was involved in the committee that did the review,” Wyoming clerk VandenBerg told WKTV. “We also have our new County Clerk with Lisa Posthumus Lyons (involved). I understand her process was very thorough — she took a lot of notes and asked a lot of great questions. Kent County was well-represented in the selection process, and I am very comfortable with how we chose the new equipment.”

 

At Wyoming and elsewhere, Huizenga’s town halls are now raucous

U.S. Congressman Bill Huizenga talked to the public at Godwin Heights High School. (WKTV)

By. K.D. Norris

ken@wktv.org

 

For about two hours, U.S. Congressman Bill Huizenga, a Republican from Michigan’s Second Congressional District, stood in front of an audience of about 200 people attending a Town Hall Listening session April 11 at Godwin Heights High School.

 

Rep. Huizenga spent some time defending his recent congressional actions and stands on current issues such as President Donald Trump’s Syrian bombing decision, Obamacare and the Republican-led efforts to overhaul the American healthcare system, and the future of American leadership in battling climate change.

 

But for much of the meeting, he stood quietly and heard a mostly antagonistic, often aggressive, crowd attack him from all sides. And, Huizenga says, the scenario has become all too common since the last election.

 

“Absolutely,” Rep. Huizenga said to a question from WKTV. “It is, I think, a backstop that many people — who believed was there with Barack Obama at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, acting as their backstop — is now gone. And they are seeing that their political beliefs, which you could argue are maybe a bit out of step with what most of West Michigan is, doesn’t have a champion in Washington right now.

 

“Clearly that is why, I think, they have gotten more — aggressive is maybe one of the words, but I think it is just a level of concern that has been ramped up,” Huizenga said.

 

Huizenga was able to explain his stands on several topics: He supports President Donald Trump’s Syrian bombing decision. He thinks Obamacare is doomed and only new Republican-led action can save the American healthcare system. He thinks the issue of Nestle Corporation extracting more groundwater from Michigan is a state issue, not his issue, to deal with. And he thinks the United States should not go it alone in dealing with climate change and supports roll-backs of President Barack Obama’s actions on the issue.

 

Dorr resident Bill Keysor prefaced his question about Obamacare by saying he was “mad” that Huizenga hasn’t been doing his job. (WKTV)

But a not uncommon prelude to a question was critical remarks, including one from Dorr resident Bill Keysor, who prefaced his question about the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) with the statement that he was “mad you haven’t been doing your job … (that you’d) rather play politics than represent us the way we’d like to be represented.”

 

And the often contentious talk does it make it more difficult for the Representative to explain his actions, to define his beliefs, Huizenga said.

 

“There are some folks there to actually have a dialogue,” he said. “My doctor, who was there … We don’t agree politically, which is fine. But trying to have a conversation … depending on the question, trying to have a conversation (is hard). They were demanding I have an answer or demanding I be quiet and listen. Well, OK. Do you want a response or not want a response?”

 

But “that’s fine. I mean, I get it. This is part of the job. We will keep doing it, we have always done it before. It hasn’t always gotten quite the attention that it is receiving right now. But what I want to do is to point out that I like those times when it is productive. … Is is just unfortunate that when you have people that are somehow trying to deny other folks, from their opportunity to be a part of this. That’s just disappointing, frankly.”

 

The Wyoming town hall meeting was the third since the start of the new year. He talked to a crowd of about 300 people in Baldwin in February, and about 1,000 in Grand Haven in March.

 

For more information about the Representative’s agenda and actions, visit huizenga.house.gov

 

Government Matters: Sen. Stabenow offers ‘Bring Jobs Home Act’

News of Your Government

WKTV Staff

 

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) on Monday, Jan. 30, introduced legislation she states would encourage businesses to bring jobs to America and discourage companies from shipping jobs overseas. It’s fate in a Republican-controlled Senate is uncertain.

 

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Stabenow’s “Bring Jobs Home Act” first introduced this legislation in 2012, and in every Congress since, but, she said in supplied material, Senate Republicans have repeatedly blocked it.

 

“We need to be exporting our products, not our jobs,” Sen. Stabenow in supplied material. “It’s outrageous to ask hard-working Americans and communities to foot the bill for companies that move jobs overseas. If President Trump and Republicans in Congress are serious about bringing jobs back home, they should work with me to pass my legislation right now.”

 

The “Bring Jobs Home Act of 2017” creates a new tax cut to provide an incentive for U.S. companies to move jobs and business activity from another country back to America. Specifically, her initiative will allow U.S. companies to qualify for a tax credit equal to 20% of the cost associated with bringing jobs and business activity back to the United States. The act also would end a tax deduction for U.S. companies that outsource jobs and business activity.

 

Rep. Huizenga seeks repeal of part of Dodd-Frank Act

 

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI), who is the chairman of the House of Representatives capital markets committee, on Tuesday, Jan. 31, voiced support to efforts to repeal section 1504 of The Dodd-Frank Act — specifically a Securities and Exchange Commission rule — by using the Congressional Review Act.

 

Rep. Bill Huizenga (R)

“The SEC is tasked by Congress to both protect investors and facilitate capital formation,” Rep. Huizenga said in supplied material. “Despite being instructed in Federal Court, the SEC continues to propose a resource extraction rule that is overly burdensome, puts U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage, and fails to provide investors with useful information. Transparency is a critical element in governance and I believe there is a way for the SEC to achieve transparency regarding section 1504 however this revised rule falls short and remains deeply flawed.”

 

Sen. Peters concerned about Presidential order ‘implementing religious test’

 

U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), on Monday, Jan. 30, joined his colleagues on the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee in a letter requesting a meeting with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly about the crafting and implementation of President Donald Trump’s latest Executive Order restricting refugee admissions to the United States.

 

Sen. Gary Peters

“We are deeply troubled by this unprecedented order and its implementation by the Department of Homeland Security,” Sen. Peters and his Senate Democrat colleagues wrote to Secretary Kelly, according to supplied material. “We urge you to postpone implementation of this Executive Order until these questions have been answered, and, more importantly, you have had an opportunity to ensure that the legal, policy, and practical impacts of President Trump’s order have been fully and thoroughly reviewed.”

 

The Senators additionally expressed alarm at a proposed religious tests for future immigrants, and questioned Kelly about the method DHS plans to use to collect religious data, after President Trump’s assertion in a recent interview that the United States would give preference to Christians seeking to obtain visas or admission to the country.

 

Government Matters: On MLK day, Sen. Peters urges ‘working together’

News of Your Government

 

WKTV Staff

 

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mi.) on Monday, Jan. 16, in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, issued a statement urging Michiganders “to join together … (to) follow Dr. King’s example and give back to their communities so we can help make his dream a reality for future generations of Americans.”

 

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI)

“As we honor the legacy of civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr., we remember his steadfast dedication to the pursuit of justice, equality and tolerance for people of all different backgrounds and beliefs, and celebrate his commitment to protecting our fundamental civil rights,” he said in supplied material. “At a time when our nation is deeply divided, we cannot allow ourselves to turn against one another. We must strive to bridge our differences and work together to ensure that every American — no matter who they are or where they live — has access to clean air and clean water, quality schools, opportunities for economic advancement, affordable health care, and the ability to make their voices heard at the ballot box.”

 

Senators Stabenow, Peters support decision on foreign appliances

 

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mi.) and Sen. Gary Peters on Jan. 12, voiced support for a recent ruling by the U.S. International Trade Committee that foreign manufacturers of washing machines were engaging in unfair trade practices, deliberately undercutting the Michigan-based Whirlpool Corporation.

 

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

“Today’s ruling is a victory for American manufacturing and our talented workers,” Sen. Stabenow said in supplied material. “I have fought aggressively to enforce our trade laws to stop companies in China and South Korea from cheating, and today’s action is an important win in this continuing fight.”

 

As a result of the ITC decision, South Korean based producers Samsung and LG must now pay duties of 52 percent and 32 percent, respectively, to offset their actions of unfair pricing tactics. Whirlpool employs 22,000 workers across the United States, with nearly 15,000 of those employees in manufacturing.

 

Sen. Peters votes to move Defense Secretary nominee forward

 

On Jan. 12, Sen. Gary Peters voted to pass legislation providing an exception to the limitation on being appointed Secretary of Defense within seven years of serving as an active duty commissioned officer of the Armed Forces. Defense Secretary nominee General James Mattis retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2013, short of the seven year requirement.

 

But he did so with some reservations.

 

“Our men and women in uniform and their families make immense personal sacrifices on behalf our nation, and I deeply respect General Mattis’ long record of military service,” he said in supplied material. “Unfortunately, our nation is facing these extraordinary circumstances today. We have an incoming President who is unpredictable and whose words and actions cause both our allies and adversaries to question America’s commitments to global security. While General Mattis’ experience and qualifications alone do not justify lifting this requirement, I believe it is necessary to add a steady presence and moderating force to President-elect Trump’s national security team.”

 

Government Matters: Sen. Peters meets Trump’s transportation nominee Chao

WKTV Staff

 

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, on Jan. 9 met with Elaine Chao, President elect Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

 

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI)

“I appreciated the opportunity to meet with Elaine Chao and discuss a number of transportation issues critical to Michigan and the nation,” Sen. Peters said in a supplied statement. “During our meeting, I was able to raise the importance of connected and automated vehicle technologies as an issue the federal government should continue to focus on in the coming years.

 

“Under the Obama Administration, the Department of Transportation has made significant progress to help support the development and deployment of these life-savings technologies, and I will be urging the Trump Administration to continue building on the progress that has already been made through efforts like the recent Federal Automated Vehicle Policy and proposed rule for vehicle-to-vehicle communications.”

 

Sen. Peters also stressed Michigan’s leadership role in the future of transportation technology innovation.

 

“I also shared information about Michigan’s role as a leader in the future of mobility and discussed the good work already underway in Michigan at test facilities like the University of Michigan’s Mcity and the American Center for Mobility,” he said. “I urged Ms. Chao to follow through on DOT’s current competition to designate national proving grounds to help connected and automated vehicle technologies reach their full potential. I look forward to continuing this discussion and hearing more about her plans for DOT during her confirmation hearing.”

 

President Obama signs innovation and competitiveness co-sponsored by Sen. Peters

 

President Barak Obama on Jan 6 signed into law the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, a bipartisan legislative compromise originally introduced by U.S. senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), along with John Thune (R-SD), and Bill Nelson (D-FL).

 

The first major update to federal research and technology policy to originate in the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee in more than a decade, this legislation maximizes basic research opportunities, reduces administrative burdens for researchers, encourages scientific entrepreneurship, and promotes oversight of taxpayer-funded research.

 

“Scientific research and innovation are the foundation of a strong economy,” Sen. Peters said. “The American Innovation and Competitiveness Act will help leverage federal investments in basic research, strengthen STEM education to train a skilled workforce and support small and medium sized manufacturers to keep our country internationally competitive.”

 

The legislation also promotes diversity in STEM fields, incentivizes private-sector innovation, and aims to improve advanced manufacturing and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a public-private partnership to support small and medium-sized manufacturers.

 

County elections director details vote security, recount anomaly

WKTV asked Wyoming and Kentwood city clerks, and the Kent County elections director to assure local voters their vote counted — and was counted properly.

 

K.D. Norris

ken@wktv.org

 

Kent County’s partial manual recount of the presidential election results identified local examples of a statewide voting system anomaly associated with ballots with straight-party voting and invalid write-in votes, according to the county’s director of elections.

 

But, Susan deSteiguer said Monday, the vote changes in the county were few and likely would have been a zero-sum gain for the two major party presidential candidates if the recount continued — and the problem will likely not repeat itself, depending on the eventual resolution of a court-delayed change in Michigan’s voting laws which would eliminate straight-party voting.

 

The key to Michigan voting system, and the reason for confidence in local over results, is in the stand-alone tabulation machines, like the one shown here. (Supplied)

Also Monday, deSteiguer detailed the county-level procedures for verifying the integrity of votes cast in the cities of Wyoming and Kentwood precincts — and as the two city clerks said in a previous now.WKTV.org story, the bottom line is stand-alone voting machines are tested for accuracy prior to the voting and never connected to the internet, “at any time, ever” and voting tabulations are checked and then double checked by various means at various local, county and state levels.

 

“We have multiple ways of confirming that the totals that were generated in that precinct match what we eventually send up to the (Board of State) Canvassers,” deSteiguer said.

 

Those “multiple ways” include duplicate paper copies of electronically reported vote totals, reconciliation and verification of vote totals by bi-partisan canvassers at both the county and state levels, and — if necessary — the secured original paper ballots available for recounts. It all begins with local control at a city and township voting level, however.

 

“We are home rule, which means every city or township clerk is responsible for the election within their city or township,” she said. “I makes it much more complex, but the good side of that it makes it impossible for one or a minimum number of people to manipulate an election. … I have 30 city or township clerks checking my work.”

 

And when they have a recount, as they started with the presidential election ‘We have a physical ballot to look at, we start with the physical ballot. … and every time we do a physical recount, which we have done before, it proves again and again, that the (voting) machines counted the votes accurately.”

 

The recent recount of paper ballots, started and stopped in Kent County when about 50 percent of the 313,000 plus total votes cast were checked, did produce an anomaly in the system, however.

 

The basic problem with vote totals not matching voter numbers across the state identified during the partial recount, deSteiguer said, was that people who chose straight party voting at the beginning of their ballots and then wrote in an invalid write-in candidate for president, would have had their votes electronically counted for their selected political party — and not counted as having not voted for any of the candidates.

 

An invalid write-in candidate usually occurs, deSteiguer said, when someone writes in a nonperson, or a real person is written in but that candidate did not meet legal requirements to verify their write-in candidacy 10 days prior to the election. In Kent County, there were six presidental candidates on the ballot and seven valid write-in possibilities.

 

The system of having only valid write-in votes count “prevents us from dealing with what we call ‘nuisance” votes,” deSteiguer said. “We will see things on the ballots such as Jesus Christ, Donald Duck, etc. … and we not not want to waste out time tallying votes for Donald Duck. We only tally valid write-in votes.

 

“On the presidential ballot, we had voters who wrote in ‘None of the above’ or ‘Are you kidding me?’,” she added.

 

As for the possibility of the straight-party and invalid write-in anomaly reoccurring?

 

deSteiguer said if that will depend on the ongoing debate over the change to Michigan’s straight-party voting ability — “How it will be in the future, I don’t know.”

 

 

Despite headlines, Kentwood, Wyoming city clerks confident of local voting integrity

The key to Michigan voting system, and the reason for confidence in local over results, is in the stand-alone tabulation machines, like the one shown here. (Supplied)

K.D. Norris

ken@wktv.org

 

The national headlines this week are filled with reports and rumors of possible voting machine manipulation — did or did not Russian hackers somehow alter the presidential election? But city clerks in the cities of Kentwood and Wyoming are confident in local voting numbers and want to assure local voters of local voting integrity.

 

“Wyoming voters can rest assured that every ballot cast has been counted and counted accurately,” Kelli VandenBerg, city clerk for the City of Wyoming. said this week. “We have a number of safeguards in place to assure that voters can have confidence that their ballots are processed properly.”

 

Kentwood City Clerk Dan Kasunic agreed, and said the bottom line reason is that the State of Michigan uses paper ballots that are tabulated at each precinct using stand-alone tabulation machines, voting machines — and the “tabulators are never connected to the internet.”

 

“So much of the national controversy has been over other types of ballots or the transmission of results,” VandenBerg said.

 

Before election day, each precinct’s and county board’s paper ballet tabulators are tested for accuracy — “there is a public test prior to each election, for the public to attend, to prove the accuracy,” Kasunic said.

Voting data cards are sealed in each tabulator by the city clerk before the election. Each seal has a number that is recorded in a paper poll book. The seal number is verified by the precinct workers before the polls open on election day.

“When the polls close at the end of election day, precinct workers print a tape of the results before the card is removed from the tabulator,” VandenBerg said. “The card is then sealed in a transfer bag that comes to (Wyoming) City Hall. That numbered seal is cut and then the data is downloaded and transmitted to the county.”

 

After votes are tabulated, all ballots are then sealed and stored in a secure location.

 

“All memory cards are sealed and recorded so they cannot be tampered,” Kasunic said. “The memory cards are complied within the city on a program and then sent by email to the county, and the memory cards are sent to the county. So they have both the tapes from each tabulator  and the memory cards”

 

In addition to the safeguards to protect the electronic data, there are safeguards in place to protect the paper ballots.

 

“At the end of election day, the paper ballots are removed from the tabulator and sealed in approved ballot containers,” Vandenberg said. “The ballots remain sealed and in the clerk’s custody for the appropriate retention period. In this case the election involved a federal race, so the retention period is 22 months.”

 

New Wyoming District School Board member envisions greater community connection

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-11-00-46-amBy Victoria Mullen

WKTV

 

Jessica Hanselman is excited about her new position on the Wyoming District School Board and said she is ready to take on the challenges facing the district.

 

Hanselman won one of two open seats on the Board Nov. 8 with 4,640 votes. Incumbent Lisa Manley received 5,016 votes.

 

“My vision includes a greater connection between the Wyoming Public School District and the larger community, to build community pride and increase involvement in district initiatives and activities,” said Hanselman.

 

Hanselman wants the district to raise its public profile and publicize its successes more broadly, so that the community gets the opportunity to know the district’s achievements and best practices. She also wants to cultivate community relationships between the education community and human services community, including mental health organizations.

 

“Often, public entities operate in silos, for many reasons,” she said. “However, I believe students served in the schools would benefit from streamlined communication and the sharing of best practices and  resources, wherever possible. It will take me a bit of time to determine whether there are any pressing concerns or problems, but I am happy to work with the rest of the board to help with any issues that arise.”

 

She said that many of the challenges faced by all districts, including Wyoming Public Schools, is the continued failure at the state level to fund education at the level it deserves, and new mandates handed down by the Michigan House of Representatives that are often unhelpful, uninformed and may create unnecessary barriers for educators to do what they know best.

 

“As necessary, I am willing to be a voice for the district with our state legislators, and partner with other districts who are seeking to advocate for their students at the government level.

 

“Wyoming Public Schools is worthy of being a sought out education destination for our community, and I want parents to know why WPS is a highly desirable school home for their children.”

After city council, Joanne Voorhees plans to ‘stay involved’

Joanne Voorhees expressed her gratitude to the public for allowing her to serve on the Wyoming City Council for nine years. (WKTV)
Joanne Voorhees expressed her gratitude to the public Monday for allowing her to serve on the Wyoming City Council for nine years. (WKTV)

By K.D. Norris

ken@wktv.org

 

Joanne Voorhees has left the Wyoming City Council, having declined to run again for the 3rd Ward seat after nearly a decade of council service and decades of serving the community her and husband Harold call home. But don’t expect her to spend all her time with her grandkids and great-grand kids.

 

“As the mayor closes every session, he asks the citizens to stay informed and stay involved, so I plan to stay informed and stay involved,” Voorhees said Monday, Nov. 21, as she officially stepped off the council and the city welcomed two new members prior to its regular meeting.

 

“But I also have three children, 19 grandchildren and I have 14 great-grandchildren,” she said. “So I am going to spend time with family, but I will always be available and will do some volunteer work, hopefully, here in the city of Wyoming.”

To see a video, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnwpzjSYLus

At the Monday meeting, the council recognized Voorhees as well as long-time member Richard Pastoor for their service to the council and the city. The city also swore in returning member-at-larg councilman Dan Burrill, who ran unopposed in the Nov. 8 election for his second four-year term, and new council members Marissa Postler, elected to the city’s 2nd Ward seat, and Robert Postema, elected to the 3rd Ward seat vacated by Voorhees.

 

Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt had nothing but praise for Joanne Voorhees' service to the city.
Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt had nothing but praise for Joanne Voorhees’ service to the city.

“Rich and Joanne have been longtime fixtures in our community,” said Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt. “They are known throughout the community for their good works in the community, whether it is working in the school districts, whether it is working as a state representative.

 

“Rich owned a radio station in our community and has that radio voice we all know. They are people who have dedicated their lives to our community and that dedication followed through to the city council, where they were always very supportive of the city and city projects. They were always dedicated to making our city better.”

 

Voorhees’ service includes much more than just a city council member, however. She previously served in the Michigan House of Representatives and joined the Michigan Republican Party leadership committee in 2011, to name just two high-profile positions.

 

“At one time I served as the chair of the Kent County GOP, before that I served six years as a state legislator, my husband was on there for six years and because of term limits I had the opportunity to run,” she said. “It was a natural fit for me, to not only serve the community as a state representative but then to serve the people here, in the city council room.

 

“The neat part about Harold and I is that he also served as mayor of the City of Wyoming. At that time, I could be called first lady, and I loved that position. … I have had very unique and very blessed opportunities.”

 

As you watched her talk to people before the ceremony Monday, at a reception in her’s and Pastoor’s honor, you could there was a sense of pride from Voorhees for being able to serve the city and the 3rd Ward.

 

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve (the Wyoming community), it was a golden opportunity for me to be able to serve in this capacity,” she said. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my nine years. We, as a council, have worked together for nine years … We blended. We understood each other. We knew were we were coming from. We did not always agree, but we would disagree very agreeably.

 

“It has been a tremendous experience, I just can’t say enough about what a blessing it is to have served the residents of Wyoming, particularly the 3rd Ward, who I really represent. I have gone door-to-door, so many times. I know many of them personally. I know their feelings. I truly feel like I’ve been able to represent them to the city more than maybe the city to them.”

 

Holt may have summed up the feelings of many attending the ceremony, saying:

 

“The time she has given to our citizens is significant and I am sure at the expense of her own personal priorities in some cases. … You can’t help but admire that dedication and the time she has given to serve the citizens of the City of Wyoming.”

 

Johnson ready to work in Lansing for ‘conservative’ 72nd District

New state Rep. Steve Johnson intends to represent his conservative district in Lansing. (WKTV)
New state Rep. Steve Johnson intends to represent his conservative district in Lansing. (WKTV)

By K.D. Norris

ken@wktv.org

 

Steven Johnson is up front on his conservative values platform as he gets ready to go work in the Michigan House of Representatives for the 72nd District – he stated his conservative values before his convincing Nov. 8 election victory and he restated them this week as he is fully immersing himself in his new job.

 

Rep. Steve Johnson, far right, on an outing with a youth group. (Supplied)
Rep. Steve Johnson, far right, on an outing with a youth group. (Supplied)

And he does not think Michigan’s Republican surge, led by the state support for President-elect Donald Trump, had very much to with his win either.

 

“I don’t think so – I live in a pretty conservative area, so I think I was going to win on my values, that I was going to follow the Constitution and our Judeo-Christian heritage,” Johnson, a Republican, said Thursday.

 

In the general election last week, Johnson defeated Democrat Steve Shoemaker with nearly 60 percent of the vote in a far-flung district that includes includes the City of Kentwood and Gaines Township in Kent County, and Leighton Township, Wayland Township, Dorr Township and the City of Wayland in Allegan County. The seat was held by Ken Yonker, who vacated due to term limits but was elected to the position of Kent County Drain Commissioner.

 

Johnson, 25, resides in Wayland Township, is unmarried, and served in the Air Force from 2009-2014. He had been working in construction but now considers himself a full-time representative of his district.

 

“This is my job now,” Johnson said. “I am preparing for office, familiarizing myself with policy and ready to understand the bills I will be voting on.”

 

Among the bills he hopes to be voting on are right-to-life bills, something he said should and can happen in the current political climate.

 

“Absolutely,” he said. “One of our most fundamental rights, as taxpayers, is to protect unborn life. I will absolutely be working on legislation to defund Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, as well as a life-at-conception act. Life begins at conception.”

 

Two other issues he will advocate for — or better stated: advocate against — is the federal Common Core education standards and tax breaks to attract business investment. During his campaign, he was critical of tax incentives given to lure Switch to take over the old Steelcase pyramid to create its Supernap data storage center in Gaines Township.

 

“First of all, Common Core is a federal program, a one size fits all, and it does not work,” Johnson said. “The federal government, the state government, should not be involved in education. That is best handled on the local school district level.

 

“Teachers and parents should be working together to decide on educational options. Nobody cares more about the job of education than the parents of the students. We need to get the bureaucrats out of the way when it comes to education.”

 

And as far as government tax breaks, he sees the problem is tax rates as much as breaks.

 

“Government should not be picking winners and losers, when it comes to businesses,” he said. “We need to have a low tax rate across the board, get the government to get out of the way. … Let the free market work, and whatever business and industry makes sense, locally or for Michigan, they will rise to the top.”

 

As for his thoughts, now that his election and his new job has sunk in as a reality?

 

“I’d like to just thank … (the voters) for their support and let them know that I will be leading the fight for following the Constitution and our Judeo-Christian values. That is why I ran.”

Two new faces on Wyoming City Council after Tuesday vote

Marissa Postler, new 2nd Ward councilor
Marissa Postler, new 2nd Ward councilor

By K.D. Norris

ken@wktv.org

 

The City of Wyoming will return one familiar face to the City Council after Tuesday’s election but there will be two newcomers, including Marissa Postler, who is just 23 years old and will be a student at Grand Valley State University while representing in her district on the council.

 

Councilman Dan Burrill, who ran unopposed and was re-elected for his second four-year term as council member-at-large, gained a final unofficial total of 18,474 votes.

 

New to the council will be Robert D. Postema, who defeated Rusty Richter for the 3rd Ward seat vacated by Joanne Vorhees, 5,168 votes to 3,683 votes; and Postler, who defeated incumbent Richard K. Pastoor for the 2nd Ward seat, 3,479 to 2,873.

 

The new council members will be sworn in at the Nov. 21 meeting.

 

Youth was served; will serve

 

Maybe the most startling result was the 2nd Ward win by Postler, who not only unseated a 15-year veteran of the council but also expects her youth to be an asset to the council and the city as much as it was an asset to her campaign.

 

“I definitely think my youth and energy played a part” in the win, Postler said Wednesday. “This election season, we’ve seen a lot of support from both Democrats and Republicans for the idea of an outsider candidate. Bernie Sanders really excited young liberals and Donald Trump, of course, found a lot of support among more conservative voters. While these two men (and myself) have very little in common, there is definitely that common thread of people wanting something different from what they’ve had forever.

 

“In the case of our (2nd Ward) residents, I think I’m probably the first 23-year-old girl who has ever knocked on their door trying to talk about politics and city issues. I had a lot of older folks tell me how glad they were to see someone from the younger generation ready to step up and take the torch.”

 

Postler works at Costco in addition to being a college student seeking a music education degree leading to a teaching position.

 

The 2nd Ward area covers the northern portion of the City of Wyoming from Chicago Drive in the north to Prairie Parkway down Burlingame Avenue over 36th Street and up along 32nd Street on the south. The ward’s western border is Wentworth and the eastern border is the city limits.

 

Part of Postler’s campaign had her advocating for more local engagement and local opportunities for Millennials.

 

“Considering we’re the second largest city in the metro Grand Rapids area, I definitely don’t think it’s crazy for us to try attracting young professionals, Postler said. “The thing is, though, we don’t have a ton of jobs they want right here in Wyoming. On the upside, we do have affordable homes and a 10-minute drive downtown. I think especially if this 28 West project works out, we could definitely become a more attractive area for people who want that city proximity but at a more affordable cost.

 

“One thing we need to continue being careful about is making sure the businesses who fill our many empty spaces are going to add value to the community and make us appealing. No more dollar stores, check cashing places, or vape shops, please! That is a sentiment that I’ve heard from several residents and wholeheartedly agree with myself.”

 

Not only is Postler not your usual city council candidate, she found out about the win in a most unusual way.

 

To be honest I was half asleep when I found out, so it took a moment to sink in,” she said. “I gave up and went to bed around 12:30 (in the morning … with no results yet, and somehow managed to fall asleep despite the excitement and nervousness. Then my boyfriend woke me up at 4 a.m. with the news as he was leaving for work and I saw I had 20 notifications on my phone! … I just want to thank the voters so much for their support and invite them to reach out to me with any ideas or concerns.”

(Postler’s email address is marissapostler@gmail.com.)

 

Back to work; working at large

 

Burrill, who was reelected for a second 4-year term as council member-at-large, ran unopposed and still gained nearly 18,500 votes — as well as a few ribbings — from constituents.

 

Joking aside, he says he is grateful not only for reelection but for the confidence in this work and work ethic shown by city voters.

 

“I do hope (the high number of votes he gained) says that folks recognized that I do a nice job for the city,” Burrill said. “I put the community’s best interest at heart. I put a lot of time and effort in that position, so I hope it says, ‘This guy is doing a pretty good job.’ Some of these (public service) positions can be pretty thankless sometimes, and I think that people are thankful that someone is doing it and putting forth effort on it.”

 

Burrill also said he takes pride representing the entire city as member-at-large, but he stressed that all the council members really represent the entire city.

 

“We have such a diverse community, and I think that is totally awesome,” he said. “When I think about our community, I see it from so many directions. It is such a great place to live. I do think I look at it as that I do not represent just one area, one ward, you do feel a sense of duty to the entire community.

 

“Of course, I know the ward commissioners do the same. Sure they represent their ward, but they also are looking for what is best for the people throughout the community. I know in those wards, they all of have a good sense of community for the entire community. Not just their area. You have to look at Wyoming as a whole. The decisions you make on the north end can affect the south end, so you have to look at the community as a whole.”

 

Of course, Burrill said, being well-known and accessible to the voters can have it’s, ah, moments.

 

“This past election, I had more people text me and say ‘Dan, I voted for you.’ Of course, some of them joke around: people that know me said ‘Hey, we had a tough choice but we voted for you anyway.’ When you get those text messages, those calls, from people it makes you feel really good. More than anything, this election made me feel really good; it gave me a lot of confidence in what I am doing.”

 

Postmen has ties to local community and local business

 

Postema — please call him “Rob,” he says, to avoid any confusion with his father and brother,  both Richard — has a long history in Wyoming and, while he sees the many strengths of the city, he sees things he wants to make better.

 

“Wyoming has a lot going for it,” he said this week. “Good infrastructure, strong neighborhoods and great citizens. City services have generally remained stable and the city is good financial shape despite some difficult economic times. But there are opportunities for improvement in many areas.

 

“I’d like to see both public safety departments strengthened,” he said. “The DDA area (28th Street area) is an area we should continue to  look for improvement. The DDA appears to be a great tool to compound investment in the area without any added tax burden. Wyoming’s DDA suffers a bit from unlucky timing with the economic downturn and several large business closures that have left it struggling for funding.  The 28 West project, hopefully, will spur some positive momentum and as that momentum builds I think we could see some real positive change in this area of the city.  I think there is opportunity along the Division corridor for positive change as well.”

 

Postema said his initial focus, however, will be in not only representing his ward but in “gaining a greater understanding” of the city and the working of the City Council.

 

“My exposure to city government from my work on the Planning Commission and BZA is an asset, as is my experience running a business,” he said. “But I recognize there will be some issues I do not yet fully understand and need to learn.”

 

Postema works for Richard Postema Associates PC, an architectural and engineering firm which moved to the city in 1981. It is a family business, named after his father, but both his father and his brother are “Richard” and his brother — who goes by “Rick” — is also part owner. “It can be confusing,” Postmen said.

 

Postema, 49, grew up in Wyoming, attended South Christian High School, graduated from Calvin College with an engineering degree. He is married, to Shelley, with two daughters, one a graduate from Hope College and in the nursing field, and the other just starting study at Calvin.

 

His becoming a city council member is just starting to sink in, however.

 

“Running for election is a humbling event,” he said. “It seems cliché to say so, but it really is an honor to have people place their faith in you to represent them in such an important role.  I am so very thankful to everyone who placed their faith in me. I will do my best to honor that faith and follow the commitments I made to everyone when running for office.”

 

We the People: 911 and John Ball Zoo/GR Public Museum Millages

We The People 2016WKTV takes seriously its role as a communications provider. We want our community to be well-informed and more involved in local matters. Note: Wyoming City Council seats are nonpartisan.

 

Kent County 911 Dispatch

Kent County Under Sheriff Michelle Lajoye-Young sat down with WKTV to explain the Kent County 911 Central Dispatch millage that will be voted on during the general election on November 8. If you would like to watch the whole interview, you can view it here.

 

John Ball Zoo/Grand Rapids Public Museum

Dale Robertson of the Grand Rapids Public Museum, CEO of John Ball Zoo Pete D’Arienzo, and Kent County Commissioner Harold Voorhees sat down with WKTV to share information regarding the upcoming millage to help fund the Zoo and the Museum. The millage will be voted on during the general election on November 8. If you would like to watch the whole interview, you can view it here.

Kentwood, Wyoming not surprised by uptick in voter registrations

A Joint Task Force Guantanamo Trooper fills out an absentee ballot for the upcoming presidential election, Oct. 8, 2008.  Every JTF Trooper has the opportunity to register and vote while serving on U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay via absentee ballot. JTF Guantanamo conducts safe, humane, legal and transparent care and custody of detained enemy combatants, including those convicted by military commission and those ordered released. The JTF conducts intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination for the protection of detainees and personnel working in JTF Guantanamo facilities and in support of the Global War on Terror. JTF Guantanamo provides support to the Office of Military Commissions, to law enforcement and to war crimes investigations. The JTF conducts planning for and, on order, responds to Caribbean mass migration operations.

If you are planning to vote in the upcoming Nov. 8 election you need to have registered to do so by today.

 

As voter registration comes to its final hours, both the cities of Kentwood and Wyoming are reporting — a not surprising — increase in register voters.

 

“With a national election, we always see an increase in voter registration,” said Wyoming City Clerk Kelli VandenBerg. In an average election, the City of Wyoming usually has about 48,000 — 49,000 registered voters. This year, the city has about 51,500 registered voters in 30 precincts.

 

“We always see an uptick in the national election because there is a big push to get people registered,” VandenBerg said, adding that groups often canvas events like the recent ArtPrize in downtown Grand Rapids to help get people registered.

 

Kentwood City Clerk Dan Kasunic agreed with VandenBerg stating that the national election usually brings in a higher number of registered voters. As of Friday, Kasunic could not give specific voter numbers for the city since residents are able to register at a number of locations including the Secretary of State’s office. He said registrations from other locations will be coming in over the next several days.

 

Kentwood has seen an increase in voters over the past several years. Because a precinct is only allow to have 2,999 voters, Kentwood is beginning the process to split some of its precincts to form two more. However, this will not impact the Nov. 8 election with the city maintaining its current 16 precincts for this year.

 

mail-in-ballot-17738476_108900_ver1-0_320_240As for absentee ballots, Kasunic said the city has about 3,600 and is well on its way to averaging the 4,000 — 5,000 it usually does for a national general election.

 

The City of Wyoming was more than 3,000 absentee ballots with VandenBerg saying the city is on track to hit the usual 5,000 it has had for a national general election as well. Absentee ballots can be mailed out up until Saturday, Nov. 5. Monday, Nov. 7, is the last day a person can vote on an absentee ballot in a municpality’s clerk’s office.

 

To receive an absentee ballot you must meet one of the following requirements: be 60 years or older; are physically disabled and as a result, you cannot vote on Election Day without another person’s assistance; you can not vote on Election Day because of the tenets of your religion; you can not vote on Election Day in the precinct where you reside because you are an election precinct inspector in another precinct; you are absent or expect to be absent from the township or city in which you live when polls are open; or you are confined in jail awaiting arraignment or trial.

 

You have until 5 p.m. today to register to vote as most offices close at that time. To register you need to be a U.S. citizen, 18-years-old by Election Day, a resident of Michigan and a resident of the city or township where you are applying to register to vote. To check and see if you are registered, visit www.Michigan.gov/vote.

We the People: Wyoming City Council Candidates

We The People 2016WKTV takes seriously its role as a communications provider. We want our community to be well-informed and more involved in local matters. Note: Wyoming City Council seats are nonpartisan.

 

2nd Ward

 

The City of Wyoming’s 2nd Ward Council area covers the northern portion of the City of Wyoming from Chicago Drive in the north to Prairie Parkway down Burlingame Avenue over 36th Street and up along 32nd Street on the south. The 2nd Ward western border is Wentworth and the eastern border is the city limits.

 

Richard Kent Pastoor – Incumbent

Occupation: Worked in sales and broadcasting. Has been on the Wyoming City Council since 2001

Residence: Wyoming

 

Why did you decide to run for the City of Wyoming 2nd Ward?

“Well, I was appointed to the 2nd Ward back in March of 2001 and liked it, so I decided to run again in 2003. It’s the most rewarding job I’ve ever had and I’ve met some great people. I try to serve the people and I love being able to help them.”

 

With the announcement that the 28 West project is moving forward, how do you feel it will impact the City of Wyoming?
“Most of that area is in my ward and the people over there have always felt slighted and cheated that the City ignored them. That the business ventures stopped at Burlingame. I hope it’s something that takes off and benefits the businesses in the area. I would like to see all of 28th Street re-birthed.”

 

Marissa K. Postler

 

Occupation: Works at Costco Warehouse

Residence: Wyoming

 

Why did you decide to run for the City of Wyoming 2nd Ward?
“I was frustrated with Millennials engagement into politics. I want to bring more people into politics in order to give a more accurate representation of the community. With a median age of just over 30, the City Council needs more diversity to properly represent the City of Wyoming.”

 

With the announcement that the 28 West project is moving forward, how do you feel it will impact the City of Wyoming?

“I’d love it as long as we get the right types of businesses in. With young people taking advantage of the low housing market in Wyoming, we need to keep them here. A new 28 West has the potential to increase Wyoming’s appeal.”

 

3rd Ward

 

The City of Wyoming’s 3rd Ward Council area encompasses the city’s panhandle area that includes most of the western area of the city from Prairie Parkway on the north to 60th Street in the south. The 3rd Ward eastern border wraps around the city limits to Kenowa Avenue and its western border is Burlingame Avenue.

 

Rusty Richter

Occupation: Twenty-seven years as a commercial real estate broker and property manager
Residence: Wyoming

 

Why did you decide to run for the City of Wyoming 3rd Ward?

“I’ve lived in Wyoming my whole life and so have my parents and their parents. In order to keep the solid foundation the city is built on, you have to be involved to make sure it remains sound and sensible. I’m looking to dew attention to the issues in the 3rd Ward as some people in the 3rd Ward feel left out and not a part of Wyoming.”

 

With the announcement that the 28 West project is moving forward, how do you feel it will impact the City of Wyoming?


“I think it’s an important project for Wyoming and will help Wyoming develop a downtown feel. It has to be competitive in growing business development and the project will help with that. It’s important to use the private sector to fill 28th Street.

 

Robert D. Postema

 

Occupation: Engineer / Part Owner of Richard Postema Associates PC, Architects & Engineers
Residence: 36 years in Wyoming

 

Why did you decide to run for the City of Wyoming 3rd Ward?

“I am running for election because I believe I have the experience and critical thinking necessary to properly guide the decisions made by the City Council. I have consistently shown in my work the desire to fully understand an issue and make a thoughtful, common-sense decision on how to proceed. I grew up in Wyoming, raised my own family here and own a business in Wyoming. I want Wyoming to continue to be a great place to live, raise a family, and run a business. I am committed to limited government, being accessible and accountable, fiscal responsibility, strong public safety, and smart growth.”

 

With the announcement that the 28 West project is moving forward, how do you feel it will impact the City of Wyoming?
“The 28 West project is the catalyst that should help drive new development in Wyoming’s DDA. Redevelopment often is about momentum with new development driving more new development. The city needs to work promote the area and also needs to remain flexible enough to work with developers on concepts that may not have been envisioned in the 28 West plan but hold true to the plan’s ultimate goals.”

 

All candidates were contacted and invited to participate in sharing their message to the voters.

We the People: Candidate Forums

We The People 2016WKTV takes seriously its role as a communications provider. We want our community to be well-informed and more involved in local matters.

 

City of Wyoming – 2nd Ward

 

The City of Wyoming’s 2nd Ward Council area covers the northern portion of the City of Wyoming from Chicago Drive in the north to Prairie Parkway down Burlingame Avenue over 36th Street and up along 32nd Street on the south. The 2nd Ward western border is Wentworth and the eastern border is the city limits.

 

 

City of Wyoming – 3rd Ward

 

The City of Wyoming’s 3rd Ward Council area encompasses the city’s panhandle area that includes most of the western area of the city from Prairie Parkway on the north to 60th Street in the south. The 3rd Ward eastern border wraps around the city limits to Kenowa Avenue and its western border is Burlingame Avenue.

 

Kent County Commissioner – 8th District

 

Kent County Commissioner District 8 covers the eastern portion of the City of Wyoming, including the pan handle. For specific boarders, visit accesskent.com.

 

Kent County Commissioner – 12th District

 

Kent County Commissioner District 12 covers the western portion of the City of Kentwood and the eastern portion of the City of Wyoming. For specific boarders, visit accesskent.com.

 

Kent County Commissioner – 13th District

 

Kent County Commissioner District 13 covers the eastern portion of the City of Kentwood. For specific boarders, visit accesskent.com.

 

State House of Representatives – 77th District

 

The 77th District includes Byron Township and the City of Wyoming. The seat is currently held by Thomas Hooker of Byron Township, who is vacating due to term limits.

 

We the People: Kent County Commission Candidates

We The People 2016WKTV takes seriously its role as a communications provider. We want our community to be well-informed and more involved in local matters.

 

7th District

Kent County Commissioner District 7 includes the City of Grandville and the northern portion of the City of Wyoming, mostly the Godfrey Lee area. For specific borders, visit accesskent.com.

 

Stan Ponstein – Incumbent (R)

Occupation: Costco Warehouse
Residence: Grandville

 

Why did you decide to run for the Kent County Commission 7th District?

“I have enjoyed serving on the various boards such as the Network 180 Board (Community Mental Health Authority Board), the Land Bank Authority and the Pension Board. They have really re-energized me and I would like to continue to work through on the projects these groups have to see them to their realization.”

 

What issues are a high priority to you?


“Taxation and the budget, obviously. Most of the county’s budget is flow through dollars designated by the state for certain projects. I think we need to consolidate where we can and generate new partnerships. The council has done a good job in building partnerships and we need to explore new ideas to foster other partnership opportunities.”

 

What are your thoughts on a central 911 dispatch for Kent County?

“The 911 dispatch is critical and we need to consolidate with the City of Grand Rapids as soon as possible. Having duplicates services is a waste of taxpayer money. As for adding more to the surcharge to pay for improvements. I am a no vote on that. We currently do not know if all of the current surcharge is getting to us. Why should we ask the taxpayers to pay more? 911 dispatch is a critical service and should be a priority in the Kent County general budget, not a ballot issue for the taxpayer. Taxpayers and businesses already pay enough in taxes.”

 

Logan Arkema – Candidate (D)

Occupation: Student at Georgetown University
Residence: Grandville

 

Why did you decide to run for the Kent County Commission 7th District?
“The last couple election cycles have seen only one choice on the ballot. I feel the voters needed at least one more choice. I also want the county to embrace technology to be as optimal as possible.”

 

What issues are a high priority to you?
“I think the Rapid could use some improvement as the city’s main form of public transit. I would want to make sure the Sheriff Department has the training necessary to have positive interactions with the community.”

 

What are your thoughts on a central 911 dispatch for Kent County?
“I’m glad the issue is on the ballot. I still think there’s room for improvement. I think we can invest more in our 911 dispatch and I want to make sure the technology we have is the best possible to save lives.”

 

8th District

 

Kent County Commissioner District 8 covers the eastern portion of the City of Wyoming, including the pan handle. For specific boarders, visit accesskent.com.

 

Harold Voorhees – Incumbent (R)

Occupation: Owner at Cookies Unique
Residence: Wyoming Pan Handle

 

Why did you decide to run for the Kent County Commission 8th District?
“To serve. I serve on the boards for the West Michigan Sports Commission and the John Ball Zoo.”

 

What issues are a high priority to you?
“I want mandated services to run in the most efficient way possible. I also want to continue to strengthen the quality of life on the cultural level here in West Michigan. I believe cultural aspects – sports, the zoo, Meijer Garden, etc. – boost the economy and quality of life for the residents in the area.”

 

What are your thoughts on a central 911 dispatch for Kent County?
“It’s a necessity! Public safety is necessary. There are places in the county where we can’t talk to each other. Our law enforcement and emergency services need to be able to talk to one another.”

 

Franklin Cornielle – Candidate (D)

 

Franklin Cornielle is the Democratic nominee for the 8th District Kent County Commission. He will be running against Harold Voorhees in the November 8 election.

 

9th District

 

Kent County Commissioner District  9 covers parts of southern Wyoming and also Byron Township. For specific boarders, visit accesskent.com.

 

Matt Kallman – Incumbent (R)

 

Matt Kallman is the Republican nominee for the 9th District Kent County Commission. He will be running against Keith F. Courtage in the November 8 election.

 

Keith F. Courtage – Candidate (D)

 

Keith F. Courtage is the Democratic nominee for the 9th District Kent County Commission. He will be running against Matt Kallman in the November 8 election.

 

10th District

 

Kent County Commissioner District  10 covers Gaines Township and the southern half of Caledonia Township. For specific boarders, visit accesskent.com.

 

Emily P. Brieve – Incumbent

 

Emily P. Brieve is the incumbent for the 10th District and is running unopposed in the November 8 election.

 

12th District

 

Kent County Commissioner District 12 covers the western portion of the City of Kentwood and the eastern portion of the City of Wyoming. For specific boarders, visit accesskent.com.

 

Harold J. Mast – Incumbent (R)

Occupation: Former Health Care Administrative at Pine Rest for 28 years. Ten years as executive director Genesis Non-Profit Housing.
Residence: Kentwood

 

Why did you decide to run for the Kent County Commission 12th District?


“I’ve been a city commissioner for 14 years and a county commissioner for 18. I have an interest as a servant and the capability to work with people and solve the issues that face them.”

 

What issues are of high priority to you?


“I think we need to be focused on helping seniors as they age. Along with that, we need to provide adequate care to those with mental and physical disabilities.”

 

What are your thoughts on a central 911 dispatch for Kent County?


“A central 911 dispatch would enhance 911 capabilities throughout Kent County. Having a central location would increase the speed and effectiveness of the response.”

 

Christian Allen – Candidate (D)

Occupation: Assembly fitter for a UAW Shop
Residence: Wyoming

 

Why did you decide to run for the Kent County Commission 12th District?
“I think there needs to be a change in Kent County as I believe some of the commissioners are becoming to comfortable. I think we need a more transparent Kent County Commissioner board and I think that I can make a difference.”

 

What issues are a high priority to you?
“My three key issues are to improve Kent County services, to progress the living wage, and to create a fair community for all.”

 

What are your thoughts on a central 911 dispatch for Kent County?
“I think that they are moving in the right direction with the central dispatch. I think that there are a couple of things that they could change. If I get elected, I would take a closer look at that and I think we could bring more technology and maybe a University to help organize it better.”

 

13th District

 

Kent County Commissioner District 13 covers the eastern portion of the City of Kentwood. For specific boarders, visit accesskent.com.

 

Jessica Ann Tyson – Candidate (R)

Occupation: Small business owner
Residence: Kentwood

 

Why did you decide to run for the Kent County Commission 13th District?
“There is an open seat and I would like the opportunity to represent my city and community at the county level. I’m the state president of a political organization and ran before against an incumbent. I want to be able to affect policy.”

 

What issues are a high priority to you?
“Because there’s an open seat, I’d like to honor the past and keep Kent County at their Triple-A bond rating while also looking for new was to improve.”

 

What are your thoughts on a central 911 dispatch for Kent County?
“I’m all for advancing technology. I believe Kent County has done the homework to get the best price and technology for the residence.”

 

Betsy Melton – Candidate (D)

 

Betsy Melton is the Democratic nominee for the 13th District Kent County Commission. She will be running against Jessica Ann Tyson in the November 8 election.

 

All candidates were contacted and invited to participate in sharing their message to the voters.

We the People: Kent County Offices

We The People 2016WKTV takes seriously its role as a communications provider. We want our community to be well-informed and more involved in local matters.

 

Kent County Sheriff

 

Lawrence A. Stelma – Incumbent (R)

Occupation: Been in law enforcement since 1972 and has acted as sheriff for 16 years.
Residence: Cedar Springs

 

Why did you decide to run for Sheriff back in 2000 and continue to run today?

“It’s been a natural progression in my career that started as a corrections officer. We have many projects in the works like the 911 central dispatch that I want to see to completion.”

 

What are some of the benefits and challenges to the central 911 dispatch?

“Well, some of the challenges are funding and technology, but the benefits are very important. A central dispatch would make for greater efficiency for all the agencies and would create better communication for emergencies and big events.”

 

With national headlines centered around negative police-community relations, how would you continue to foster and strengthen the relationship between the Sheriff’s Department and Kent County?

“We work hard with the community and with community leaders. We build strong relationships so that we all work together. We work with organization like the Neighborhood Watch, with faith-based organizations, and also with the mental health community.”

 

Michael B. Scruggs – Candidate (D)

 

Michael B. Scruggs is the Democratic nominee for the Kent County Sheriff. He will be running against Lawrence A. Stelma in the November 8 election.

 

Kent County Prosecuting Attorney

 

Alida J. Bryant – Candidate (D)

Occupation: Staff attorney at the Kent County Defender’s Office. Criminal defense attorney for the past 22 years.
Residence: Belding

 

Why did you decide to run for Prosecuting Attorney?
“I decided to run in order to validate the need for criminal justice reform. Accountability, productivity, safety, victim’s rights and fiscal responsibility are all goals which must be managed and balanced.”

 

As Prosecuting Attorney, what would be your main goal or focus?
“The main focus is finding a balanced approach to law enforcement. I want to move non-violent, victimless offenders from accountability to productivity.”

 

Chris Becker – Candidate (R)

 

Chris Becker is the Republican nominee for the Kent County Prosecuting Attorney. He will be running against Alida J. Bryant in the November 8 election.

 

Kent County Clerk

 

Chris Reader – Candidate (D)

Occupation: Software developer for Spectrum
Residence: Grand Rapids

 

Why did you decide to run for Kent County Clerk?
“I believe it is the place I can do the most good. I have a decade of community service and I believe the clerk can be a partner to the community. I think I bring a unique set of skills that fit the position well.”

 

As Kent County Treasurer, what would be your main goal or focus?
“Compared to other offices statewide, Kent County can do a lot more online. I want to find ways for the clerks office to reach out to the community. Right now you have to go downtown to access the clerks office.”

 

Lisa Posthumus Lyons – Candidate (R)

 

Lisa Posthumus Lyons is the Republican nominee for Kent County Clerk. She will be running against Chris Reader and James Lewis in the November 8 election.

 

James Lewis – Candidate (L)

 

James Lewis is the Libertarian nominee for Kent County Clerk. He will be running against Chris Reader and Lisa Posthumus Lyons in the November 8 election.

 

Kent County Drain Commissioner

 

Rachel Hood – Candidate (D)

Occupation: Consultant for Chase Park Grants
Residence: Grand Rapids

 

Why did you decide t run for Kent Country Drain Commissioner?
“I’m passionate about water and possess a skill set and experience that uniquely qualifies me to take the job into the 21st century. I’ve spent the last 10 years working on changing policy and investments in storm water in the greater Grand Rapids area.”

 

As Kent County Drain Commissioner, what would be your main goal or focus?
“I will increase responsiveness and transparency by investing in technology and customer service tools. I want to ensure that we do more than just manage our infrastructure; we can leverage our drain dollars to attract federal and state investments that will help us bring more value to our drain dollars.  We can use drain investments to achieve water quality improvements, or build recreational facilities that double as stormwater management strategies, like soccer fields that also store and slowly release stormwater underneath the field.  Or using stormwater bioswales that double as traffic calming and place-making tools for neighborhood business districts.”

 

Ken Yonker – Candidate (R)

 

Ken Yonker is the Republican nominee for Kent County Drain Commissioner. He will be running against Rachel Hood in the November 8 election.

 

Kent County Treasurer

 

Kenneth D. Parish – Incumbent (R)

 

Kenneth D. Parish is the Republican nominee for Kent County Treasurer. He will be running against Jodi Betten in the November 8 election.

 

Jodi Betten – Incumbent (D)

 

Jodi Betten is the Democratic nominee for Kent County Treasurer. She will be running against Kenneth Parish in the November 8 election.

 

All candidates were contacted and invited to participate in sharing their message to the voters.

We the People: U.S. and State House of Representatives

We The People 2016

WKTV takes seriously its role as a communications provider. We want our community to be well-informed and more involved in local matters.

 

U.S. 2nd District

 

The Second Congressional District includes: Lake, Oceana, Newaygo, Muskegon, and Ottawa Counties in their entirety as well as portions of Allegan, Kent, and Mason Counties.

 

Bill Huizenga – Incumbent (R)

 

Dennis B. Murphy – Candidate (D)

Occupation: Supplier quality engineer
Residence: Grandville

 

Why did you decide to run as the representative for the US 2nd District?
“I am running because I do not think our current representative is looking out for the real interests of the vast majority of citizens in our district. The district is effectively ignored and I don’t think Republican policies actually help most of the people in terms of jobs, civic improvements, infrastructure, etc. We need positive action from our government to effect positive change.”

 

What issues are a high priority to you?
“Social Security is my number one issue in that I want to make sure it stays funded and is not privatized. I also believe there needs to be a nationwide standard for elections. I am against Pipeline 5, especially after what happened with the Kalamazoo River. We don’t need oil bubbling up in the Straits of Mackinaw.”

 

When the national spotlight is on Michigan, it usually focuses on Detroit and the east side. How would you make sure West Michigan isn’t forgotten?
“Well, if I continue to do well in the campaign that will naturally bring attention to the west since this area is safely Republican. Michigan overall is primarily Democrat, so here, I am hoping to make my voice heard. I hope by hammering the issues I will make people understand they’re voting for the wrong person.”

 

Erwin Haas – Candidate (L)

Occupation: City Commissioner for Kentwood and semi-retired physician
Residence: Kentwood

 

Why did you decide to run as the representative for the US 2nd District?

“I see the distorting influences of the Federal Government on small cities like Kentwood. I see taxpayer money going to small ‘free’ services we don’t need and our current representative not adhering to his conservative values.”

 

What issues are a high priority to you?

“I think there is a major problem with how we collect taxes. We should get ride of the IRS and instead institute a fair tax. I believe we should readdress our military to focus on our boarders here at home and not worry about what’s going on overseas.”

 

When the national spotlight is on Michigan, it usually focuses on Detroit and the east side. How would you make sure West Michigan isn’t forgotten?

“I would focus on keeping the government out of situations it doesn’t need to be in. People in West Michigan tend to be self starters. They aren’t as dependent on the government and its services.”

 

U.S. 3rd District

 

The 3rd District includes the counties of Barry, Ionia, and all but the southwest portion of Kent.

 

Doug Smith – Candidate (D)

Occupation: Sheet Metal Workers Local 7
Residence: Belmont

 

Why did you decide to run as the representative for the US 3rd District?
“I’ve protested in the past against unfair legislation and didn’t see results. To have a chance at changing politics, you need to do it from within. I wanted to give the people a politician who wasn’t corrupted.

 

What issues are a high priority to you?
“Overturning Citizens United and getting big money out of politics. I also want to get as many people as possible into the voting process by having open primaries and automatic voter registration when someone turns 18.”

 

When the national spotlight is on Michigan, it usually focuses on Detroit and the east side. How would you make sure West Michigan isn’t forgotten?
“Michigan as a whole needs reps who can focus on the state as a whole. Investments in infrastructure everywhere are important so that Flint doesn’t happen anywhere else. My construction background can help with infrastructure upgrades and better transportation.”

 

Justin Amash – Incumbent (R)

 

Justin Amash is the Incumbent and Republican nominee for the 3rd District. He will be running against Doug Smith in the November 8 election.

 

72nd District

 

The 72nd District includes the City of Kentwood and Gaines Township in Kent County and Leighton Township, Wayland Township, Dorr Township and the City of Wayland in Allegan County. The seat is currently held by Ken Yonker, who is vacating due to term limits.

 

Steven Johnson – Candidate (R)

Occupation: Four years in the Air Force and now campaigning as a full-time candidate
Residence: Wayland Township

 

Why did you decide to run for the 72nd District Representative?


“I didn’t initially plan on running, but after seeing videos of Planned Parenthood selling baby parts while the government still chose to fund them, I decided to get involved. I called some local candidates to hear their stance and concerns with specific issues and didn’t receive a straight answer. I then chose to run myself.”

 

What issues would you address if elected?

“We need to repeal Common Core. It’s a one-size method that doesn’t fit everyone. I’m Pro-Life and support a life at conception act. I would also stop corporate welfare. Too often big companies, like Switch coming into Gaines Township, are given big tax breaks.”

 

Steve Shoemaker – Candidate (D)

Occupation: Worked for Steelcase for 25 years as a Skilled Trades Journeyman. Retired in 2005.
Residence: Caledonia

 

Why did you decide to run for the 72nd District Representative?


“I saw some decisions that came out of Lansing that I didn’t agree with. The current 72nd district representative made some votes that I felt went against what he believed. As a leader its important to make tough decisions even if they’re not popular. I want to ensure the opportunities I had in the 72nd District – jobs, income, lifestyle, etc. – are available to every citizen.”

 

What issue would you address if elected?


“The government needs to be made more transparent. Right now, Michigan ranks dead last in transparency. I would draft a bill to repeal exemption for Freedom of Information Act blockage for government representatives. I want to keep government transparency at the forefront.”

 

77th District

 

The 77th District includes Byron Township and the City of Wyoming. The seat is currently held by Thomas Hooker of Byron Township, who is vacating due to term limits.

 

Tommy Brann – Candidate (R)

Occupation: Owner of Brann’s Steakhouse since he was 19-years-old.

Residence: Wyoming

 

Why did you decide to run for the 77th District Representative?
“I’ve always been interested in politics and admired the people who do it. I believe in free enterprise. There’s a lot of stories of entrepreneurs that I want to share not only with the government, but with children as well. I can help influence education.”

 

What issues would you address if elected?
“I would like to keep government simple. I believe the simpler, the better. Right now the state has $27.2 billion for teachers pension that is unfunded. The budget needs to be balanced, and that means no debt.”

 

Dana Knight – Candidate (D)

 

Dana Knight is the Democratic nominee for the 77th District. She will be running against Tommy Brann in the November 8 election.

 

All candidates were contacted and invited to participate in sharing their message to the voters.

Second candidate forum focuses on candidates for Kentwood

ballotThe Wyoming-Kentwood Chamber of Commerce and the cities of Wyoming and Kentwood host the second candidate forum at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, at the KDL Kentwood Branch, 4950 Breton SE.

 

The forum is designed to allow residents to get to know the candidates who want to represent them. The forum is free to the public.

 

The event starts at 7:10 p.m. with the 12th District Kent County Commission candidates. The 12 District area covers part of the cities of Kentwood and Wyoming. The seat is currently held by Republican incumbent Harold Mast who is being challenged by Democrat Christian Allen. Both candidates are planning to be at Thursday’s forum.

 

At 7:50 p.m. will be the 13th Kent County Commission candidates. The 13th District area covers most of the eastern and northern portion of the City of Kentwood. Newcomers Democrat Betsy Melton and Republican Jessica Ann Tyson are seeking the seat being vacated by Richard Vander Molen. Both Melton and Tyson are planning to be at Thursday’s forum.

 

For more coverage on the candidates, make sure to check out WKTV’s We the People coverage.

Candidate forum set for tonight at Wyoming library

ballotOutside of the presidential candidates of Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump on the Nov. 8 ballot, there a number of others seeking your vote to represent you in state, county and local government.

 

To help area residents get familiar with the candidates who are running for these various offices, the Wyoming-Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce along with the cities of Wyoming and Kentwood will be hosting candidate forums this week. These forums are for candidates who will represent residents of the Wyoming and Kentwood communities.

 

The first one is tonight, Sept. 20, and focuses on Wyoming candidates. The event is free to the public and starts at 6 p.m. at the KDL Wyoming Branch, 3350 Michael Ave. SW.

 

voting_united_statesAt 6:05 p.m. will be candidates for the 77th District State Representative. The 77th District includes Byron Township and the City of Wyoming. The seat is currently held by Thomas Hooker of Byron Township, who is vacating due to term limits. The candidates vying for the spot are Republican Tommy Brann and Democrat Dana Knight. Brann plans on being at the event.

 

At 6:30 p.m. will be the 8th District Kent County Commission candidates. This district takes in a part of the City of Wyoming. Currently holding the seat is Republican Harold Voorhees, who is seeking re-election. His opponent is Democrat Franklin Cornielle. Voorhees plans to be in attendance at tonight’s forum.

 

At 6:50 p.m. is the Wyoming City Council 2nd Ward candidates. The City of Wyoming’s 2nd Ward area covers the northern portion of the City of Wyoming from Chicago Drive in the north to Prairie Parkway down Burlingame Avenue over 36th Street and up along 32nd Street on the south. The 2nd Ward western border is Wentworth and the eastern border is the city limits. Running for the seat is incumbent Richard Pastoor and newcomer Marissa Postler. Both are planning to be at tonight’s forum.

 

At 7:30 p.m. is the Wyoming City Council 3rd Ward candidates. The City of Wyoming’s 3rd Ward area encompasses the city’s panhandle area that includes most of the western area of the city from Prairie Parkway on the north to 60th Street in the south. The 3rd Ward eastern border wraps around the city limits to Kenowa Avenue and its’ western border is Burlingame Avenue. Newcomers Rusty Richter and Robert Postema are seeking the seat being vacated by Joanne Voorhees. Both Richter and Postema are planning to be at tonight’s forum.

New faces move on for general election in Gaines Township

Gaines Township Hall
The Gaines Township Hall

Current Gaines Township Supervsior Don Hilton, Sr. lost his bid for a seat as a township trustee at the Aug. 2 primary.

 

Hilton, along with five others, was seeking one of the four trustee spots on the board. Kathy Vander Stel received 1,655 votes; Tim Haagsma received 1,588 votes; Daniel Lee Frying had 1,405 votes, Angela Burnside had 1,178, Hilton had 1,064 and Eric Fouch had 984. All candidates are listed as Republicans. The top four vote getters move on to the November ballot.

 

The rest of the Gaines Township board positions were uncontested. Rob DeWard ran for supervisor. Crystal Asterisk ran for clerk and Laurie Lemke ran for treasurer. They were all listed as Republicans and will move on to the November election.

 

Currently no Democratic candidates have come forth for the township election.

Wyoming Bond Proposal passes

WKTV takes seriously its role as a communications provider. We want our community to be well informed and more involved in local matters.

 

Bond Proposal – Yes

 

Bond

This proposal will allow the school district to continue to levy the statutory rate of not to exceed 18 mills on all property, except principal residence and other property exempted by law, required for the school district to receive its revenue per pupil foundation allowance.

Final result: Ponstein takes 7th District Republican Primary; Allen to face Mast for 12th District

Stan Ponstein
Stan Ponstein

WKTV takes seriously its role as a communications provider. We want our community to be well informed and more involved in local matters.

 

Kent County Commissioner Stan Ponstein was the first to announce his victory over challenger and former Kent County Undersheriff Jon Hess last night via Facebook.

 

Ponstein posted “Thank you Grandville and Wyoming voters, my work for you will continue.”

 

For most of the night, with only half of the 13 precincts for the 7th District Kent County Commission seat reporting, Jon Hess was ahead by 50 votes. It was just before midnight when all the precincts had reported that it showed Ponstein beating out Hess for the Republican spot on the November 8 ballot, 1108 to 963.

 

Poinsettia’s work to keep his Kent County Commission seat is not over yet as he faces Democratic challenger Logan Arkema in the Nov. 8 general election.

 

The Democratic candidate for the 12th District Kent County Commission seat also was decided with Christian Allen, 166 votes, beating out Peter Hickey, who had 155 votes, and Albert S. Abbasse, who had 133 votes. Allen will face off against Republican incumbent Harold Mast in the Nov. 8 election.

 

All 19 Kent County Commission seats will be up for election on Nov. 8. Several of the seats had uncontested races for both the Republican and Democrat spots. For the Wyoming and Kentwood areas, the remaining Kent County Commission seats up for the general election are: District 8 Republican incumbent Harold Voorhees and Democratic challenger Franklin Cornielle; District 9 Republican incumbent Matt Kallman and Democratic challenger Keith F. Courtade; District 13 Republican Jessica Ann Tyson and Democratic Betsy Melton (District 13 incumbent Dick Vander Molen is not seeking re-election).

 

All election numbers are from the Kent County Election Returns.

Postler and Postema win 2nd and 3rd Ward in Primary Election

WKTV takes seriously its role as a communications provider. We want our community to be well informed and more involved in local matters.

 

The City Council election is non-partisan. The top two will advance to the general election in November with the winner earning a seat on the Wyoming City Council.

 

Wyoming 2nd Ward

 

Wyoming2Ward

 

Wyoming 3rd Ward

Wyoming3rdWard

Johnson and Shoemaker win 72nd District; Brann wins 77th District in primary

We The People 2016

WKTV takes seriously its role as a communications provider. We want our community to be well informed and more involved in local matters.

 

It will be the battle of the Steves for the 72nd District State House of Representative seat as Republican Steven Johnson and Democrat Steve Shoemaker will face off in the Nov. 8 general election.

 

Steven Johnson, a Wayland resident, came out on top of a field of five candidates all vying for the Republican spot in yesterday’s primary on the November general ballot. Johnson had 2,257 votes with restaurant owner Tony Noto coming in with 1,758 votes followed by school teacher Ryan Gallingly with 1,555. Bill Hirsch had 1,367 votes and Kentwood resident Robert Coughlin finished with 646 votes.

 

The 72nd District includes the City of Kentwood and Gaines Township in Kent County and Leighton Township, Wayland Township, Dorr, Township and the City of Wayland in Allergen County. The seat is currently held by Ken Yonker, who is vacating due to term limits.

 

The race for the seat was tight with Noto actually defeating Johnson by less than 100 votes in Kent County. However, Johnson secured a strong lead in his home county of Allegan where he finished the night with more than 600 votes ahead of Noto.

 

In the 77th District State House of Representatives race, restauranteur Tommy Brann beat out business owner Frank Murin for the Republican spot. Brann had 6,752 votes to Murin’s 755. Brann will face off against Democrat candidate Dana Knight for the seat being vacated by Thomas Hooker due to term limits. Hooker actually ran a successful bid against long-time Byron Supervisor Audrey Nevins Weiss. Hooker received 2,699 votes and Weiss had 1,469.

 

The 77th District includes Byron Township and the City of Wyoming.

Stelma wins Sheriff race in Primary

WKTV takes seriously its role as a communications provider. We want our community to be well informed and more involved in local matters.

KentCountySheriff5

 

 

With more than a 20,000-vote lead, current Kent County Sheriff Lawrence Stelma secured his spot yesterday as the Republican candidate for the sheriff position in the November general election.

 

Stelma beat out three Republican challengers in yesterday’s primary election. He received 27,382 votes with the next closest candidates being Timothy Lewis with 6,539 and John Stedman with 6,464. Stacey Browe received 3,830 votes.

 

Stelma will face off against Democrat challenger Michael B. Scruggs in the Nov. 8 general election.

 

The remaining Kent County offices had uncontested races for both Republicans and Democrats. Those vying for spots in the November general election are Republican Chris Beck and Democrat Alida Bryant for prosecuting attorney; Republican Lisa Posthumus Lyons and Democrat Chris Reader for clerk/register of deeds; Republican Ken Parrish and Democrat Jody Betten for Treasurer and Republican Ken Yonker and Democrat Rachel Hood for Drain Commissioner.

 

For the 17th Circuit Court Judge, Curt Benson had the largest number of votes with 18,867. Joe Rossi had 16,923 and Thomas Murray, Jr. had 12,107. The two top vote getters, Benson and Rossi, will face off in the general election.

 

We the People: Gaines Township Office and Board candidates – 2016 Primary

We The People 2016At the Aug. 2 primary, Gaines Township residents will be heading to the polls to elect all of their township officials as every single office – supervisor, treasurer, clerk and trustees – are up for election.

 

Three of the offices have candidates running unopposed. Rob De Ward is seeking the Gaines Township supervisor position. Incumbent Crystal Osterink is seeking the position of clerk and Incumbent Laurie J. Lemke is running for township treasurer.

 

Current Gaines Township Supervisor Don R. Hilton Sr. is one of six people seeking the four township trustee positions. Also running are current township trustees Eric Fouch, Dan Fryling, Tim Haagsma, and Angela Burnside and newcomer Kathy Vander Stel.

 

Gaines Township is broken into nine precincts. Percent 1 and 2 will vote at the Gaines Charter Township Offices, 8555 Kalamazoo Ave. SE. Precinct 3 is at Gaines Branch Library, 421 68th St. SE. Precinct 4 and 5 voters will head to Heritage Baptist Church, 1570 60th St. SE. Precinct 6 will vote at Hillside Community Church, 1440 68th St. SE. Precinct 7 is at Providence Christian Reformed Church, 7730 Eastern Ave. SE and Precincts 8 and 9 will head to Ada Bible Church, 2045 68th St. SE.

 

For each precinct’s area visit the Gaines Charter Township website and look for the precinct map under the Office of the Clerk in the category of Departments. All precincts are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

We the People: Wyoming City Council Candidates – 2016 Primary

We The People 2016

WKTV takes seriously its role as a communications provider. We want our community to be well-informed and more involved in local matters. Note: Wyoming City Council seats are nonpartisan and decided at the Aug. 2 primary.

 

2nd Ward

The City of Wyoming’s 2nd Ward Council area covers the northern portion of the City of Wyoming from Chicago Drive in the north to Prairie Parkway down Burlingame Avenue over 36th Street and up along 32nd Street on the south. The 2nd Ward western border is Wentworth and the eastern border is the city limits.

 

Richard Kent Pastoor – Incumbent

Occupation: Worked in sales and broadcasting. Has been on the Wyoming City Council since 2001

Residence: Wyoming

 

Why did you decide to run for the City of Wyoming 2nd Ward?

“Well, I was appointed to the 2nd Ward back in March of 2001 and liked it, so I decided to run again in 2003. It’s the most rewarding job I’ve ever had and I’ve met some great people. I try to serve the people and I love being able to help them.”

 

With the announcement that the 28 West project is moving forward, how do you feel it will impact the City of Wyoming?
“Most of that area is in my ward and the people over there have always felt slighted and cheated that the City ignored them. That the business ventures stopped at Burlingame. I hope it’s something that takes off and benefits the businesses in the area. I would like to see all of 28th Street re-birthed.”

 

Jeremy Bakken – Candidate

Occupation: Senior Director at Lambert Edwards and Associates

Residence: Wyoming

 

Why did you decide to run for the City of Wyoming 2nd Ward?
“I’ve been involved with the city for years as a member of the Wyoming Community Enrichment program and I have enjoyed my time serving. I joined after wanting to see a fireworks show in Wyoming and we now have one with the WY-FI event. I want to do more and help Wyoming stay great.”

 

With the announcement that the 28 West project is moving forward, how do you feel it will impact the City of Wyoming?
“I’m excited about it. That section has seen a lot of change and it will be great for the area and for the businesses. Visually it will look great and the new design will give people space to walk around.”

 

Marissa K. Postler – Candidate

Occupation: Works at Costco Warehouse

Residence: Wyoming

 

Why did you decide to run for the City of Wyoming 2nd Ward?
“I was frustrated with Millennials engagement into politics. I want to bring more people into politics in order to give a more accurate representation of the community. With a median age of just over 30, the City Council needs more diversity to properly represent the City of Wyoming.”

 

With the announcement that the 28 West project is moving forward, how do you feel it will impact the City of Wyoming?

“I’d love it as long as we get the right types of businesses in. With young people taking advantage of the low housing market in Wyoming, we need to keep them here. A new 28 West has the potential to increase Wyoming’s appeal.”

 

3rd Ward

 

The City of Wyoming’s 3rd Ward Council area encompasses the city’s panhandle area that includes most of the western area of the city from Prairie Parkway on the north to 60th Street in the south. The 3rd Ward eastern border wraps around the city limits to Kenowa Avenue and its’ western border is Burlingame Avenue.

 

Tamara I. Lopez – Candidate

Occupation: Lawyer

Residence: Wyoming

 

Why did you decide to run for the City of Wyoming 3rd Ward?
“As a lifelong resident of Wyoming, I believe it is important to give back to the community that contributed so much to my upbringing. My calling in life as a lawyer is to be an advocate for my clients and I feel representing the 3rd Ward would be natural for me.”

 

With the announcement that the 28 West project is moving forward, how do you feel it will impact the City of Wyoming?
“It will impact the City immensely and will bring back a part of Wyoming that used to be thriving. It will offer a distinct shopping district with stores that serve the local market and meet the demands of the city’s ever changing consumer demographic.”

 

Rusty Richter – Candidate

Occupation: Twenty-seven years as a commercial real estate broker and property manager

Residence: Wyoming

 

Why did you decide to run for the City of Wyoming 3rd Ward?

“I’ve lived in Wyoming my whole life and so have my parents and their parents. In order to keep the solid foundation the city is built on, you have to be involved to make sure it remains sound and sensible”

 

With the announcement that the 28 West project is moving forward, how do you feel it will impact the City of Wyoming?
“I think it’s an important project for Wyoming. It has to be competitive in growing business development and the project will help with that. It will also help Wyoming develop a downtown feel.”

 

Robert D. Postema

 

Due to a family emergency, Robert was not able to make it in to film a video message to the voters.

 

Occupation: Engineer / Part Owner of Richard Postema Associates PC, Architects & Engineers

Residence: 36 years in Wyoming

 

Why did you decide to run for the City of Wyoming 3rd Ward?

“I am running for election because I believe I have the experience and critical thinking necessary to properly guide the decisions made by the City Council. I have consistently shown in my work the desire to fully understand an issue and make a thoughtful, common-sense decision on how to proceed. I grew up in Wyoming, raised my own family here and own a business in Wyoming. I want Wyoming to continue to be a great place to live, raise a family, and run a business. I am committed to limited government, being accessible and accountable, fiscal responsibility, strong public safety, and smart growth. ”

 

With the announcement that the 28 West project is moving forward, how do you feel it will impact the City of Wyoming?

“The 28 West project is the catalyst that should help drive new development in Wyoming’s DDA. Redevelopment often is about momentum with new development driving more new development. The city needs to work promote the area and also needs to remain flexible enough to work with developers on concepts that may not have been envisioned in the 28 West plan but hold true to the plan’s ultimate goals.”

 

All candidates were contacted and invited to participate in sharing their message to the voters. Only contested races where the field would be narrowed or decided at the primary on August 2 were included.

We the People: Kent County Sheriff Candidates – 2016 Primary

We The People 2016

WKTV takes seriously its role as a communications provider. We want our community to be well-informed and more involved in local matters.

 

Lawrence A. Stelma – Incumbent (R)

Occupation: Been in law enforcement since 1972 and has acted as sheriff for 16 years.

Residence: Cedar Springs

 

Why did you decide to run for Sheriff back in 2000 and continue to run today?
“It’s been a natural progression in my career that started as a corrections officer. We have many projects in the works like the 911 central dispatch that I want to see to completion.”

 

What are some of the benefits and challenges to the central 911 dispatch?
“Well, some of the challenges are funding and technology, but the benefits are very important. A central dispatch would make for greater efficiency for all the agencies and would create better communication for emergencies and big events.”

 

With national headlines centered around negative police-community relations, how would you continue to foster and strengthen the relationship between the Sheriff’s Department and Kent County?
“We work hard with the community and with community leaders. We build strong relationships so that we all work together. We work with organization like the Neighborhood Watch, with faith-based organizations, and also with the mental health community.”

 

Stacy M. Browe – Candidate (R)

Occupation: 9 years in law enforcement

Residence: Kentwood

 

Why did you decide to run for Kent County Sheriff?
“It is time for a change. Citizens of Kent County need a leader who cares about them and is available and accessible to the community. The citizens want to see the sheriff year-round and not just during election cycles.”

 

What are some of the benefits and challenges to the central 911 dispatch?
“I like the ability to have communication between different departments throughout Kent County. Smaller departments will be able to communicate and call for backup from other areas through a central dispatch.”

 

With national headlines centered around negative police-community relations, how would you continue to foster and strengthen the relationship between the Sheriff’s Department and Kent County?
“Having an open door policy with the community and deputies goes a long ways. Also, I would attend township, city, and village meetings throughout the year so that the citizens can personally see the Sheriff and ask questions. A part of community policing is working together.”

 

John G. Stedman – Candidate (R)

Occupation: Semi-retired. Owner of Stedman Insurance.

Residence: Wyoming

 

Why did you decide to run for Kent County Sheriff?
“It was the feeling that we don’t have a process where an individual has a place to file a complaint against a law officer. We need a mediator between the public and law enforcement.”

 

With national headlines centered around negative police-community relations, how would you continue to foster and strengthen the relationship between the Sheriff’s Department and Kent County?
“I would be more proactive in the community. I would establish more programs for the youth to get them acquainted with law enforcement before they make that poor choice.

 

Also vying for the Republican spot on the Nov. 8 ballot is Timothy Lewis. The Republican winner of the primary will face off against Democrat Michael B. Scruggs in November.

 

All candidates were contacted and invited to participate in sharing their message to the voters. Only contested races where the field would be narrowed or decided at the primary on August 2 were included.

We the People: State House of Representatives Candidates – 2016 Primary

We The People 2016

WKTV takes seriously its role as a communications provider. We want our community to be well-informed and more involved in local matters.

 

72nd District

The 72nd District includes the City of Kentwood and Gaines Township in Kent County and Leighton Township, Wayland Township, Dorr Township and the City of Wayland in Allegan County. The seat is currently held by Ken Yonker, who is vacating due to term limits.

 

Robert D. Coughlin – Candidate (R)

Occupation: Sales Management with an International Corporation

Residence: Kentwood

 

Why did you decide to run for the 72nd District Representative?
“I have an extensive background in local government. I’ve served the City of Kentwood for 20 years and have spent the last 13 as a city commissioner. I felt it was my time to take my background to Lansing.”

 

What issues would you address if elected?
“Michigan has been on a road to recovery for a while now, but we still have a way to go. With the number of strong universities we have in the state, we need to keep that talent from leaving the state. With my background in business and in local government, I’m hoping to improve the employment picture even further.”

 

Ryan Gallogly – Candidate (R)

Occupation: Social Studies teacher in Kentwood Public Schools

Residence: Gaines Township

 

Why did you decide to run for the 72nd District Representative?
“As a social studies teacher, I teach students to be actively involved. So, I figured I should as well! There are certainly improvements to be made regarding education reform and a more streamlined government, and I want to be a part of the solution.”

 

What issues would you address if elected?
“I would love to place an emphasis on K-3 education. K-3 is the foundation that education is built on. If we get the early ages addressed with the right curriculum and class sizes, the high scores in the older grades will follow.”

 

Steven Johnson – Candidate (R)

Occupation: Four years in the Air Force and now campaigning as a full-time candidate

Residence: Wayland Township

 

Why did you decide to run for the 72nd District Representative?
“I didn’t initially plan on running, but after seeing videos of Planned Parenthood selling baby parts while the government still chose to fund them, I decided to get involved. I called some local candidates to hear their stance and concerns with specific issues and didn’t receive a straight answer. I then chose to run myself.”

 

What issues would you address if elected?
‘We need to repeal Common Core. It’s a one-size method that doesn’t fit everyone. I’m Pro-Life and support a life at conception act. I would also stop corporate welfare. Too often big companies, like Switch coming into Gaines Township, are given big tax breaks.”

 

Steve Shoemaker – Candidate (D)

Occupation: Worked for Steelcase for 25 years as a Skilled Trades Journeyman. Retired in 2005.

Residence: Caledonia

 

Why did you decide to run for the 72nd District Representative?
“I saw some decisions that came out of Lansing that I didn’t agree with. The current 72nd district representative made some votes that I felt went against what he believed. As a leader its important to make tough decisions even if they’re not popular.”

 

What issue would you address if elected?
“The government needs to be made more transparent. Right now, Michigan ranks dead last in transparency. I would draft a bill to repeal exemption for Freedom of Information Act blockage for government representatives.”

 

Other candidates running for the 72nd District are Democrat Dick Cunningham, Republican Bill Hirsch and Republican Tony Noto.

 

77th District

 

The 77th District includes Byron Township and the City of Wyoming. The seat is currently held by Thomas Hooker of Byron Township, who is vacating due to term limits.

 

Tommy Brann – Candidate (R)

Occupation: Owner of Brann’s Steakhouse since he was 19-years-old.

Residence: Wyoming

 

Why did you decide to run for the 77th District Representative?
“I’ve always been interested in politics and admired the people who do it. I believe in free enterprise. There’s a lot of stories of entrepreneurs that I want to share not only with the government, but with children as well. I can help influence education.”

 

What issues would you address if elected?
“I would like to keep government simple. I believe the simpler, the better. Right now the state has $27.2 billion for teachers pension that is unfunded. The budget needs to be balanced, and that means no debt.”

 

Brann and Republican Frank Murin facing off in the primary for the Republican spot on the Nov. 8 general election. The Republican winner of the primary will face Democrat Dana J. Knight in November.

 

All candidates were contacted and invited to participate in sharing their message to the voters. Only contested races where the field would be narrowed or decided at the primary on August 2 were included.

We the People: Kent County Commission Candidates – 2016 Primary

We The People 2016WKTV takes seriously its role as a communications provider. We want our community to be well-informed and more involved in local matters.

 

7th District

Kent County Commissioner District 7 includes the City of Grandville and the northern portion of the City of Wyoming, mostly the Godfrey Lee area. For specific borders, visit accesskent.com.

 

Stan Ponstein – Incumbent (R)

Occupation: Costco Warehouse

Residence: Grandville

 

Why did you decide to run for the Kent County Commission 7th District?
“I have enjoyed serving on the various boards such as the Network 180 Board (Community Mental Health Authority Board), the Land Bank Authority and the Pension Board. They have really re-energized me and I would like to continue to work through on the projects these groups have to see them to their realization.”

 

What issues are a high priority to you?
“Taxation and the budget, obviously. Most of the county’s budget is flow through dollars designated by the state for certain projects. I think we need to consolidate where we can and generate new partnerships. The council has done a good job in building partnerships and we need to explore new ideas to foster other partnership opportunities.”

 

What are your thoughts on a central 911 dispatch for Kent County?
“The 911 dispatch is critical and we need to consolidate with the City of Grand Rapids as soon as possible. Having duplicates services is a waste of taxpayer money. As for adding more to the surcharge to pay for improvements. I am a no vote on that. We currently do not know if all of the current surcharge is getting to us. Why should we ask the taxpayers to pay more? 911 dispatch is a critical service and should be a priority in the Kent County general budget, not a ballot issue for the taxpayer. Taxpayers and businesses already pay enough in taxes.”

 

Jon Hess – Candidate (R)

Occupation: Retired Under Sheriff for the Kent County Sheriff Department

Residence: Grandville

 

Why did you decide to run for the Kent County Commission 7th District?
“After retiring I had several people approach me about running for this position. I believe my former role as under sheriff allows me to bring a unique experience and insight to the county commission board.”

 

What issues are a high priority to you?
“Monies and property taxes. Property taxes have been up and down in the past eight to nine years and we need to continue to look at how our finances are structured. I believe we need to have partnerships and collaborate with various groups to maintain the property services that are offered.”

 

What are your thoughts on a central 911 dispatch for Kent County?
“Central dispatch is a very complex issue. It was decided collaboratively by many agencies that this community would have two PSAPs (public service answering points) and not a true central dispatch. I believe this is a good approach and allows for redundancy which protects from a singe center becoming inoperable and effecting public safety in the case of a major incident. Communication is so critical and this process ensures first responders and citizens have dispatch centers that work together, train together, and can work either dispatch center in the case of a major emergency. Many of the initiatives of Homeland Security have centered on communication too. This has allowed Kent County to improve our PSAPs as a whole too.”

 

The winner of the Republican primary will face off against Democrat candidate Logan Arkema.

 

 

12th District

 

Kent County Commissioner District 12 covers the western portion of the City of Kentwood and the eastern portion of the City of Wyoming. For specific borders, visit accesskent.com.

 

Harold J. Mast – Incumbent (R)

Occupation: Former Health Care Administrative at Pine Rest for 28 years. Ten years as executive director Genesis Non-Profit Housing.

Residence: Kentwood

 

Why did you decide to run for the Kent County Commission 12th District?
“I’ve been a city commissioner for 14 years and a county commissioner for 18. I have an interest as a servant and the capability to work with people and solve the issues that face them.”

 

What issues are of high priority to you?
“I think we need to be focused on helping seniors as they age. Along with that, we need to provide adequate care to those with mental and physical disabilities.”

 

What are your thoughts on a central 911 dispatch for Kent County?
A central 911 dispatch would enhance 911 capabilities throughout Kent County. Having a central location would increase the speed and effectiveness of the response.”

 

Mast will face off in the Nov. 8 election against the Democrat winner of the primary. Democrat candidates running are Albert S. Abbasse, Christian Allen, and Peter Hickley.

 

 

All candidates were contacted and invited to participate in sharing their message to the voters. Only contested races where the field would be narrowed or decided at the primary on August 2 were included.