The Rapidian

Voting for Kent County Clerk: Lisa Posthumus Lyons focuses on efficiency

On November 8, Kent County voters will elect a new County Clerk. In this series, the two candidates, Chris Reader (Democrat) and Lisa Posthumus Lyons (Republican) were interviewed on their vision for the office.
Kent County Clerk candidates Chris Reader (Democrat) and Lisa Posthumus Lyons (Republican)

Kent County Clerk candidates Chris Reader (Democrat) and Lisa Posthumus Lyons (Republican) /Reader photo: Well Design / Lyons photo: DarKen Photography

Candidate Information

Lisa Posthumus Lyons

  • State Representative (R-Alto) since 2010
  • Chair of House Elections Committee 
  • Director of Public Policy and Community Outreach for the Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS
  • Former Secretary of the Bowne Township Planning Commission
  • www.lyonsforclerk.com

Chris Reader

  • Senior Software Developer for Spectrum Health
  • Co-Chair, Green Grand Rapids Master Plan Committee
  • Parks Strategic Master Plan Citizen's Committee for Grand Rapids
  • Has served on 16 different community boards and committees since 2005
  • readerforclerk.com

The Kent County Clerk works with city and township clerks to manage elections and monitor campaign finance law. The Clerk's office also maintains vital records (birth, death, and marriage) as well as Circuit Court files and property deeds. After years of service, current Clerk Mary Hollinrake is retiring, which offers a rare opportunity for a new face in the office. Each candidate was interviewed about their vision for the office.

Lisa Posthumus Lyons, Republican: The office demands integrity

“Running for clerk never crossed my mind until I was approached by individuals active in the community who felt this might be a great fit given my experience in the House, said Lisa Posthumus Lyons. "My six years of service in [the] state house has prepared me well. My service as chair of the House Elections Committee has provided valuable experience in understanding elections and campaign finance law. This has helped me to develop a working relationship with Kent County’s local clerk, and in that regard I’m ready to hit the ground running.” Lyons also felt her work for real estate associations has shown her the need for efficiency in processing deeds and other important documents.  

“While it doesn’t garner the same attention as the offices near the top of the ballot, the County Clerk is [an office] that every resident has to interact with to file vital birth, marriage, death or property records,” Lyons said. “Ensuring that their interaction is a positive one is a great responsibility, and I take that seriously. It’s an office that demands integrity and a Clerk who is efficient, effective, transparent and accountable.”

Asked about furthering equity for underserved populations such as minorities, Lyons said, “The clerk’s office has not been proactively visible out in the community. I look forward to changing that so all communities in Kent County are aware of the services provided by the office, and that those services are equally accessible and convenient."

Concerns

Responding to her opponent's concerns about her previous support for legislation, Lyons shared a few points. "I have always supported eliminating straight ticket voting -- we should vote for people not political parties. However, we need to provide tools like secure no-reason absentee voting to mitigate longer lines at the polls. When that was stripped from the bill to eliminate straight ticket voting, I could no longer support the bill."

"My bill for secure no-reason absentee voting does not change the current absentee voting process or eliminate permanent absentee voting list. It simply adds a seventh option to request an absentee ballot: a no-reason option, [which requires] voters apply for an absentee ballot in person and present a valid ID, consistent with current voter ID laws. I hope for the Senate to pass it in lame duck session."

On the recently passed Senate Bill 571 that includes a "gag order" that is currently under injunction, Lyons said that she has clarified the language so that "local officials will be able to provide factual information about ballot questions, but they will not be permitted to influence voters at the expense of the taxpayer." She also asserted that another section of the bill "levels the playing field" for all workers regarding political contributions by payroll deduction, a policy that unions oppose.

When asked about the 2012 messages she had passed between key Republicans after their attempt to rig a House election, Lyons answered the messages were simply "reaching out to a friend. Kent County Prosecutor Bill Forsyth quickly concluded that I was not involved [in rigging the election] in any way."

Service

Lyons concluded that she is running on her "record of real results fighting for hardworking taxpayers." She plans to improve upon “the top-notch customer service [offered by the Clerk's office]; to expand on the modernization of the operations of the office, bringing about increased transparency and online accessibility; and to continue working to ensure our aging elections equipment is updated and that our elections are well-run.”

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