Elections for the Kalamazoo City Commission are held in every odd year, meaning that 2019 is an election year for the Kalamazoo City Commission. The city commissioners service staggered four-year term, with three commissioners elected in each election. Citizens of Kalamazoo community have stepped up to run for the open seats. The terms of three four-year seats on the commission will expire this year. Those seats include one held by Commissioner Don Cooney, Sykes-Nehring’s (former seat now held by Griffin) and Commissioner David Anderson’s seat.
Requirements to run for the office of City Commissioner including being a resident of the city, must not hold office in another city, cannot have any financial interest directly or indirectly with the city, no criminal convictions and must complete nominations petitions with at least 50 valid signatures from the city at large.
Jacob Andrews – recent graduate of Western Michigan University and lifetime resident of Kalamazoo says “Growing up in a biracial, middle-class home, I understand what too many families are going through in Kalamazoo; needing to make the difficult decisions between paying their bills and feeding their families.”
Jacob says he is running for the city commission because solutions to Kalamazoo can be found within our community, the city commission needs inclusivity and fresh, innovative ideas to support families in our community. Kalamazoo needs more affordable housing, and if Kalamazoo wants to ensure a prosperous and equitable community, the community needs to trust its public safety and Jacob looks forward to fighting along-side activists addressing unfair policies and city ordinances that target marginalized communities.
Andrew Argo – nominated by the Kalamazoo Socialist Party, is a lifelong resident of Kalamazoo, born and raised in the Edison Neighborhood. He attended Loy Norrix High School before graduating from Western Michigan University with a B.A. in English studies. He has spent the last ten years working in the mental healthcare field as a Direct Support staff, serving the mentally and developmentally disabled population of Kalamazoo and an the on-air host at WIDR 89.1, as well as the host for “The Hoodrat Strategist Radio Program,” (2016-present) a leftist news and discussion program that focuses on covering and analyzing current issues- in particular those local to Kalamazoo.
Andrew says “I’m running for city commission because, as someone born and raised in the Edison Neighborhood, I have grown up with a profound love and concern for my fellow working class and otherwise marginalized neighbors in the city of Kalamazoo. At a time when our climate, technology, and our global economy are undergoing rapid change that will fundamentally reshape society, I feel it is only through the transformation of Kalamazoo towards a Socialist paradigm that facilitates true working class democracy can we properly weather the storms to come.”
Emily Demorest – “I decided to run for city commission last year while organizing the emergency cold weather shelters in February. Because while our Commission pays lip service to equity and care for our most vulnerable residents, there are still so many gaps because their eyes are on tax breaks for white homeowners, and “shovel ready” development sites for out of town firms. Because we don’t stand up for sanctuary for undocumented folks. Because we still don’t have a climate action plan. Because there are still sick notions of equating poverty with immorality and laziness instead of demanding that our structures support marginalized communities FIRST, not as an afterthought.”
Patrese Griffin – graduate of Hackett Catholic Central High School, current vice chair of the Fair Housing Center of Southwest Michigan, artist, mother of three and wife of a community organizer. Raised on the Eastside of Kalamazoo and now calls the Northside home.
Griffin currently holds the commission seat left vacant when Shannon Sykes-Nehring resigned from the board in May. Commissioners selected Griffin from a pool of 15 candidates to fill the vacancy through the November election. Griffin says, “I understand this community and look forward being part of positive movement in this city, and believe in getting results through equity/education, accountability, and by listening to and lifting up community voices”.
Jeanne Hess – retired professor of Physical Education and head volleyball coach at Kalamazoo College, with a BA from University of Michigan and an MA from Western Michigan University.
She is running as a service to, and care of, our amazing city. Having spent her career as a professor and coach at Kalamazoo College, her first inclinations are to teach and coach, through listening and working together toward shared, common goals. She seeks to support the excellent work of our dedicated community servants in City Hall, Public Safety, and beyond. It makes sense to her to participate in the evolution of the Foundation for Excellence, Imagine Kalamazoo 2025, and Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo. She also believes that the city must grow and attract the business and industry that would provide the jobs to both retain alumni, and attract young families to our city.
Pete Kushner – born in Portage of parents that were teachers in the area, understands the importance of education and the diversity of people. Pete worked locally in restaurants, before heading off to Michigan State University to get his BA in Hospitality Management, followed by an MBA from Western Michigan University in marketing. Currently the owner of Kushner Consulting, LLC, married and the president of the Oakland Drive/ Winchell Neighborhood Association (ODWNA) since 2012.
Pete says, “I believe it is the job of the City Commission to not only represent all city residents, but to actively advocate for and work to accomplish those identified citizen priorities (Imagine Kalamazoo!) that will allow Kalamazoo to thrive.
Chris Praedel – born and raised in Kalamazoo, his roots run deep. Raised in the Spring Valley neighborhood, graduate of Kalamazoo Central High School and Western Michigan University, earning a BA in Management. Chris was also an Eagle Scout from local Troop 205.
Chris says, “I’m running because I want to be part of creating a future, we can be proud. I’ve lived in Kalamazoo my entire life, and this is where my wife and I have always wanted to plant our roots and raise our family. We envision a city where every person can plant their feet firmly and build their bright future too.”
Praedel listed his top priorities as commissioner as “improving voter turnout, youth employment and programs, entrepreneurship incubation, creating vibrant neighborhoods and reducing homelessness.”Remember to check your voter registration and be prepared to VOTE November 5th.
Benjamin Hayden Stanley