The Rapidian

GR area incumbents face opposition in Nov. 3 elections

Several officials in East Grand Rapids, Kentwood and Walker will fight for reelection on the Nov. 3.
Left to right: incumbent candidates Amna Seibold, Brian Miller, Steven Redmond, Robert Coughlin, Gary Carey, Sandra Howland

Left to right: incumbent candidates Amna Seibold, Brian Miller, Steven Redmond, Robert Coughlin, Gary Carey, Sandra Howland

How to Vote

  • Polls are open Nov. 3, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Precincts are assigned based on where you register to vote
  • Find your local voting location at this link
  • Bring a photo ID
  • For further voting information or to register for an absentee ballot, visit this link at accessKent.com

In election bids across Grand Rapids-area suburbs, incumbent elected officials will face opposition from outside candidates. In East Grand Rapids, the current mayor and 3rd Ward Commissioner will both vie for reelection. In Kentwood, current at-large and 1st Ward commissioners will be opposed. And in Walker, 2nd and 3rd Ward commissioners will defend their seats against two newcomers.

 

Kentwood

Kentwood residents will vote to either keep or replace their at-large and 1st Ward City Commissioners in the Nov. 3 election.

Kentwood Mayor Stephen Kepley recently voiced his support for incumbent at-large commissioner Stephen Redmond and incumbent 1st Ward commissioner Robert Coughlin, in light of, he says, misleading information in their opponents’ campaign literature.

Mayor Kepley called out Redmond’s challenger, Kentwood Zoning Board of Appeals member Thomas Webb, and Coughlin’s competitor, William Wenzel, for spreading false information for political gain.

“As an appointed official of the city, Mr. Webb has a fiduciary duty to the City and its citizens to act in a fair and responsible manner,” Kepley posted on his personal Facebook page.

In an official response from the Office of the Mayor, Kepley referenced mailings sent out by Webb’s campaign that imply the mishandling of millions in tax dollars.

“…it appears that some candidates have opted not to educate themselves regarding how the City’s finance works,” Kepley’s response says.

In the August primary election, Webb received more votes than the incumbent Redmond.

Redmond has previously served as Planning Commissioner and as Parks and Recreation Commissioner. His Facebook page says his vision for Kentwood includes fiscal responsibility, support of police and fire departments and economic opportunity.

Thomas Webb is also running on a platform of fiscal responsibility.

“I believe our City is like a business and our citizens are our customers,” Webb says on his Facebook campaign page. “I want to see our customers receive the highest level of services as their tax dollars can buy so they are satisfied when paying their taxes.”

William Wenzel is also taking a hard line against the Kentwood budget, saying on his website that he will “end big government” and “preserve your rights.” Wenzel is a Life Member of the National Rifle Association and a member of the Grand Rapids Rifle and Pistol Club, and he says he is interested in protecting individual liberty and would focus on government accountability.

 

East Grand Rapids

In the East Grand Rapids mayoral election, Mayor Amna Seibold will be challenged by Bill Templin.

Seibold was elected mayor in 2011, following six years on the City Commission and five years as planning commissioner prior to that. She is currently the Director of the Department of of Pathology at Saint Mary’s Health Care.

Bill Templin has been a real estate agent for 12 years with Compass Realty Services, which, he says in his campaign website bio, has given him unique insight regarding the needs of the community.

“I am committed to maintaining the rights of our property owners, building a thriving business atmosphere, and making our tax money work for us through unmatched schools and civil services,” his bio says.

Current East Grand Rapids Ward 3 City Commissioner Brian Miller is seeking reelection against Don Markham.

Miller has served on the City Commission for four years. On his campaign website, he cites record high property values, stable city services and infrastructure as successes of his tenure.

Moving forward, Miller says infrastructure will be his top priority, along with simplifying City code, expanding the City’s partnership with local schools and encouraging development of vacant land in East Grand Rapids’ Gaslight Village.

“My time in office demonstrates dedication to analysis over ideology, pragmatism over emotion and open dialogue over indifference,” Miller says on the website.

Miller’s competitor, Don Markham, has been a resident of East Grand Rapids for 23 years. He has 24 years of experience as a controller, operations manager and business analyst, according to his campaign website. He has coached soccer at East Grand Rapids Public Schools and has volunteered at Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and Hospice of Michigan.

Markham writes on his website that he wants to focus on schools, public safety, local business and neighborhood associations, with an emphasis on the fiscal responsibility of the City Commission to spend tax dollars wisely.

“My pledge to the 3rd Ward is to strive to improve the quality of life for our residents,” Markham says.

Three non-incumbent candidates are vying to represent the East Grand Rapids 1st Ward: John Goede, Jeffrey R. Olson and Chad Zagel. Candidates Karey Hamrick and Lou Solis are running to represent the 2nd Ward.

 

Walker

Walker residents will have two new choices for 2nd and 3rd Ward City Commissioner as two outsider candidates seek to overcome incumbents.

Current 2nd Ward Commissioner Gary Carey will be challenged by write-in candidate Jeff Kobza.

Carey was appointed to the City Commission in 2013 to fill an open seat. Prior to his appointment, he served on the Walker County Historical Commission for nearly 15 years. Carey is also an Area Sales Vice President for the software company Paycor.

Carey currently serves on the Finance Committee, Building Committee, Emergency Planning Committee and the Police/Fire Committee. He also represents Walker on the Interurban Transit Partnership Board of Directors.

Kobza is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and is currently a senior executive recruiter and program manager for iMPact Business Group.

Third Ward Commissioner Sandra Howland was appointed to fill a vacancy in 2013. She has served on the Zoning Board of Appeals since 2009, and currently serves on the Personnel Committee and Youth Committee and as Board Liaison for the Kent District Library.

Lee Wysocki is employed by Consumers Energy, and has a Bachelor’s degree in engineering from Western Michigan University.

This will be Wysocki’s second run at the commission. 

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