The Rapidian Home

Election results yield victories for school bonds, elected officials

Voters in the area passed school bonding proposals in the Nov. 3 election, with one narrowly failing by 23 votes. The Democratic nominee for a Michigan House seat was selected, and several candidates were elected or reelected to office.
Children accompanying their parents to vote are encouraged to practice their local voting procedures

Children accompanying their parents to vote are encouraged to practice their local voting procedures /Holly Bechiri

Correction: This article originally stated that the Kenowa Hills bonding proposal passed, after faulty information from local reports. The proposal failed, and has been corrected within the text. 


Local elections on Nov. 3 yielded yes votes for all bonding proposals and millages in four Kent Count school districts, for Grand Rapids, Kenowa Hills, Kentwood and Wyoming Public Schools. Democratic nominee David LaGrand was selected to go up against Republican candidate Blake Edmonds in a March election to replace a vacated Michigan House seat. Several area elected officials held onto their current seats, while new candidates were also voted in to replace term-limited officials.


Voter turnout in Nov. 3 election  

Voter turnout across all 130 precincts in Kent County and surrounding suburbs was 14.46 percent of 244,964 registered voters- which in turn is 5.69 percent of its 621,700 estimated residents. After subtracting persons under 18 years of age, approximately 25 percent of our population, that means approximately 7.6 percent of adult residents voted in yesterday's election in Kent County.

Turnout is typically lower during primary, non-general elections than in general elections. Compared to this November's non-general election with under 15 percent of registered voters showing up at the polls, turnout in general elections tends to draw around 50 percent, though it varies historically. 

The August election, in which Rosalynn Bliss was elected Grand Rapids Mayor, saw a lower rate than the Nov. 3 election, with 13.41 percent of 172,506 registered voters in the 84 precincts that reported. The May 2015 special election for a state proposal to increase sales tax saw 24.93 percent of registered voters come out to the polls.

The November 2013 special primary, which covered 157 precincts and is comparable to this week’s election in terms of size and range of ballot issues, saw a 13.43 percent turnout of 303,807 registered voters. Turnout was roughly a percentage higher this year.

Voter turnout varies among wards and individual precincts. For instance, Ward 1 had both the highest and the lowest turnout, with a 28.62 percent turnout of registered voters in the Grand Rapids 8th precinct, and 2.8 percent of registered voters participating in the 24th precinct.  

Let's see how those low turnout rates made for some very close races.


Victories across the board for school bonding proposals

Bonding proposals and millage proposals passed in Grand Rapids, Kentwood and Wyoming public school districts, which will allow the districts to launch building expansions and security and technology upgrades, as well as continue the funding of ongoing building projects.

Several of the races were close, and the Kenowa Hills bonding proposal narrowly failed. 

The Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) bonding proposal of $175 million, which will be used for new construction projects, technology upgrades and other updates, passed 10,183 to 9093, a difference of 1,090 votes.

A Wyoming Public Schools building and sinking fund tax levy, which allows the district to continue building and security upgrades, passed 1,445 to 978, for a margin of just 467 votes.

In the closest race, Kenowa Hills' bonding proposal of $55 million failed by 23 votes. A millage renewal proposal passed with a larger margin, with 2,214 votes in favor to 984.

A Kentwood Public Schools bonding proposal of $64 million passed by 3,125 to 2,108.

The Kenowa Hills and Kentwood bonds were both revised versions of proposals made last spring, both of which originally failed to pass before the revisions based on citizen feedback. 

Kentwood plans to use the approved bond proposals to upgrade classroom technology and continue to implement one-to-one learning devices across grades, which matches students up with their own Apple iPads, Google ChromeBooks or similar devices.


Dave Allen wins GR 3rd Ward commission seat

Dave Allen will be the new 3rd Ward Commissioner for the city of Grand Rapids, taking the place of Commissioner Elias Lumpkins, who is term-limited.

Allen defeated Bryan Blakely in the Nov. 3 election 3,719 to 2,018, winning 65 percent of the vote.

Allen is currently the director the Kent County Land Bank and founder of the nonprofits Oakdale Neighbors and Lighthouse Communities. He served as a Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) board member for seven years, including two years as president.

Allen campaigned on a four-point plan for the city, which includes providing equitable housing services across all wards, ensuring the safety of citizens, targeting job opportunities at low-income communities and providing stable housing.


GR area incumbents hold on, newcomers to take office

In East Grand Rapids, Amna Seibold defeated Bill Templin to remain the city’s mayor, winning 76 percent of the vote. The final tally was 1,452 to 459.

First Ward candidate Chad Zegal won the seat with 374 votes, beating opponents John Goede and Jeffrey Olson, who received 185 votes combined. Karey Hamrick will become the new 2nd War Commissioner, beating Lou Solis with 414 votes to 172.

Third Ward Commissioner Brian Miller will keep his seat after defeating Don Markham, receiving 598 votes to Markham’s 88, or 87 percent of the vote.

In Kentwood, incumbent candidates endorsed by Mayor Stephen Kepley will keep their seats as at-large and 1st Ward commissioners.

At-large candidate Steve Redmond defeated Thomas Webb, receiving 53 percent of the vote. In the August primary election, Webb received more votes than Redmond. The final tally on Nov. 3 was 2,147 to 1,855.

First Ward Commissioner Robert Coughlin defeated William Wenzel 1,293 to 637, winning 67 percent of the vote.

During the election, Mayor Kepley endorsed both incumbent commissioners, in line with his responses both formally and on Facebook to candidates Webb and Wenzel using false information in their campaign literature.

In Walker, 3rd Ward Commissioner Sandra Howland will remain in office after winning 60 percent of the vote against Lee Wysocki. The final tally was 383 to 255.


David LaGrand wins Democratic nomination for Michigan House seat

David LaGrand won the special primary election on Nov. 3 to become the Democratic nominee to replace Brandon Dillon in the Michigan House, who vacated to become the party’s chairman.

LaGrand, a GRPS school board member and former City Commissioner, defeated candidate Michael Scruggs, who is current chairman of the Kent County Black Caucus, by about 81 percent, with a final tally of 4,085 to 948.

LaGrand will face unopposed Republican candidate Blake Edmonds, who received 1,289 votes on yesterday's ballot, in the general election on March 8, 2016.

 The winner of the general election will represent Michigan’s 75th district, which encompasses all three Grand Rapids city wards and nearly all precincts.

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.