GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Grand Rapids area voters will determine in the Aug. 4 primary election which candidates for federal, state, and local office will represent their party in the November election.
Voters will also decide multiple tax proposals for schools and townships such as district improvement bonds and fire protection.
Related: See candidates, proposals on the ballot in Kent County’s Aug. 4 primary election
Related: See what’s on the ballot in Ottawa County’s Aug. 4 primary election
Thousands of voters have already cast absentee ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic. County clerks have encouraged voting absentee rather than in-person to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, voters still can go cast a ballot at designated locations in their community on Tuesday.
An absentee ballot can be obtained from the city or township in which voters are are registered.
This year, MLive Media Group partnered with the League of Women Voters of Michigan to provide candidate information for readers. Each candidate was asked to outline their stances on a variety of public policy issues.
Information on all state and federal races and many of Michigan’s county and local races are available at Vote411.org, an online voter guide created by the League of Women Voters.
Three Republicans are seeking the party nomination for the 73rd District seat in the Michigan House of Representatives in the Aug. 4 primary election.
John Inhulsen, 45, of East Grand Rapids, is an attorney and owner of Inhulsen Law; Bryan Posthumus, 35, of Greenville, is a farmer and small business owner; and Robert Regan, 52, of Grand Rapids, is vice president of business development at Grey Cap Transportation.
Related: Three Republicans vying for Michigan’s open 73rd House District seat in primary election
State Rep. Lynn Afendoulis, R-Grand Rapids Township, opted not to pursue a second, two-year term to run for the 3rd Congressional District.
The district includes the city of East Grand Rapids and the townships of Cannon, Courtland, Nelson, Oakfield, Plainfield, Spencer and Grand Rapids Charter Township. The primary winner will face Democrat Bill Saxton in the Nov. 3 general election.
There is a five-way Republican primary battle for the party’s nomination for the 3rd Congressional District in the Aug. 4 primary election.
The primarily political newcomers are seeking to replace U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, L-Cascade Township, who left the Republican Party after calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. He has served since 2010.
Related: See how Republican primary candidates for 3rd Congressional District answered questions on key issues
The district includes the city of Grand Rapids, a large portion of Kent County, part of Montcalm County, as well as Ionia, Barry and Calhoun counties.
Here’s a look at the candidates:
- Lynn Afendoulis, 61, of Grand Rapids Township, is serving her first term in the Michigan House of Representatives serving the 73rd District. Prior to her election, she was the corporate communications director for Universal Forest Products.
- Joe Farrington, 42, who lives in the Ionia County village of Lyons, owns Lyons Bar and sits on the Lyons village council.
- Peter Meijer, 32, of Grand Rapids Township, is the great grandson of Hendrik Meijer, who started the Meijer supermarket chain. The U.S. Army veteran worked most recently — from April 2018 to January 2019 — as an analyst at Olympia Development of Michigan.
- Tom Norton, 37, of Cannon Township, is a salesman for LeafFilter Gutter Protection. He was a member of the Army National Guard, and later served as president of the Sand Lake Village Council.
- Emily Rafi, 40, is a business transaction attorney from the Battle Creek area. She joined the Republican primary after initially running as a Democrat.
The primary winner will face Democrat Hillary Scholten, an immigration attorney from Grand Rapids, who’s running unopposed in the Democratic primary, in the Nov. 3 general election.
In a July 16 Twitter post, he appeared to confirm reports he was not seeking reelection saying. He earlier retweeted an interview his aide Poppy Nelson gave the Detroit Free Press in which she said he doesn’t plan to seek the nomination for any office.
The Cedar Springs Board of Education has a 30-year, $68 million school improvement bond on the Aug. 4 election ballot.
Related: Cedar Springs Public Schools seeks $68M bond for district-wide improvements
The proposal calls for improving buildings district-wide. School leaders say there would be “no expected tax rate increase for property owners.” A yes vote would extend the current debt levy of 7.00 mills for an additional 18 years through 2038 to pay for improvements, according to the district.
Some of the improvements the bond would fund include upgrading educational technology, classroom multimedia, build new classrooms at Beach Elementary, and securing school entrances.
In November 2019, voters rejected a $81.1 million bond proposal that would have required a tax increase.
More detail information on the bond proposal is available at csredhawks.org.
Two Democrats will square off in the Aug. 4 primary election for a chance to be the next Kent County Treasurer.
The candidates are Jose L. Reyna, 60, an administrative services consultant, and Beth White, 54, former corporate counsel for Kalamazoo County.
Related: Lawyer, administrative consultant will face off in Democratic primary for Kent County Treasurer
The winner will face Republican state Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Cannon Township, in the November general election. He served two terms previously in the state House of Representatives. MacGregor would resign from the Senate if he wins.
The current Kent County Treasurer, Ken Parrish, announced earlier this year he was not seeking a seventh, two-year term.
Two Republicans are competing for their party’s nomination in the Aug. 4 primary election to represent the 5th District on the Ottawa County Commission.
Voters will choose between incumbent Randall Meppelink, R-Zeeland, and challenger Angel Walker, of Hudsonville.
Related: Two Republicans face off in Aug. 4 primary election for Ottawa County Commission
The 5th District encompasses Jamestown Charter Township, Blendon Township, the city of Hudsonville and the northwestern 1st Precinct of Zeeland Charter Township.
No Democrat filed to run for the seat, so the winner will not have a challenger on the Nov. 3 election ballot.
Meppelink, 53, a Navy veteran who owns multiple county businesses, is seeking a second, two-year term. He previously served as clerk and trustee in Blendon Township. Walker, 48, has served as a Republican delegate for the 2nd Ward in Hudsonville since 2016. She is chairperson of the Ottawa GOP Outreach Committee.
Two Democrats are competing in the Aug. 4 primary election to challenge the Republican incumbent for the 72nd District seat in Michigan House of Representatives.
Disability advocate Lily Cheng-Schulting, 55, is founder and president of Disability A-TEAM of West Michigan, and Cade Wilson, 30, is educator/program director. Both candidates are residents of Kentwood.
Related: Democrats vie to challenge Republican incumbent for Michigan’s 72nd District House seat
The primary winner faces state Rep. Steven Johnson, 29, R-Wayland, who is seeking a third two-year term. He is running unopposed in the primary for the Republican Party nomination.
The 72nd District includes Gaines Township and Kentwood in Kent County and Wayland in Allegan County.
Longtime Republican Kent County Commissioner Harold Voorhees is not seeking reelection to the 8th District paving the way for a new county commissioner.
The two Republicans vying to represent the party in the November election are Dan Burrill, a Wyoming city councilman and real estate agent, and Denise Kolesar, a small business owner, mentor and coach.
Related: Two Republicans square off in primary for open 8th District seat on Kent County Commission
The 8th District encompasses the western half of Wyoming, as well as some northern portions.
The primary winner will face Sarah Chatterley, a planning commissioner for the city of Wyoming. Chatterley is running unopposed for the Democratic Party’s nomination.
Voorhees, a former state representative, has represented the county’s 8th District since 2002.
A longtime Kent County Commissioner is in a battle with a political newcomer for the 15th District seat.
Jim Talen, who has served on the commission for 20 years, will face commercial and residential property owner Melissa LaGrand in the Democratic primary in the Aug. 4, primary election.
Related: Longtime incumbent faces newcomer in Kent County Commission Democratic primary
The winner will face Republican Brian Boersema in the November general election.
The 15th District stretches as far south as 44th Street SE and as far north as Fountain Street NE.
Talen, 52, first served on the commission from 1993 to 2000. He ran again in 2008, and has since served the district since 2009.
LaGrand, 52, said manages and maintains commercial and residential properties in Grand Rapids. Past businesses she has owned and operated include: Four Friends Coffeehouse, Wealthy Street Bakery, and Hall Street Bakery. She is the wife of state Rep. David LaGrand, D-Grand Rapids.
Two Republicans are competing in the Aug. 4 primary election to represent the party in the November general election for the 74th District seat in the Michigan House of Representatives.
State Rep. Mark Huizenga, R-Walker, is seeking a second two-year term. He is running against Brock Story, a 22-year-old warehouse worker.
Related: Incumbent, college student face off in Republican primary for Michigan’s 74th House District
The winner of the primary will face Meagan Hintz, who is running unopposed for the Democratic Party’s nomination
The 74th District encompasses the cities of Walker, Grandville, Rockford and Cedar Springs, as well as Solon, Tyrone, Sparta, Algoma and Alpine townships.
Huizenga, 52, was mayor of Walker before winning the seat in 2018. Besides his warehouse job, Story, 22, is working on a degree in accounting at Baker College.
Jenison Board of Education has a 25-year, $61 million bond on proposal on the Aug. 4 election ballot to address overdue infrastructure issues.
Related: Jenison Public Schools has $61M school improvement bond on Aug. 4 election ballot
Superintendent Tom TenBrink said no tax millage increase is expected for property owners. He said proposal is for the current debt levy of 8.5 mills to be extended to 2025.
Approximately $29 million would go toward upgrades to the heating, cooling and ventilation systems in all school buildings. The district of nearly 5,200 students is also looking to accommodate growth.
For example, five more classrooms would be added to Bursley Elementary. The Junior High would get a multipurpose room and the Senior High School would get multipurpose building to accommodate band and orchestra.
The bond request follows an extensive two-year infrastructure study.
Longtime Democratic Kent County Commissioner Carol Hennessy is facing a primary challenge in the Aug. 4 election for the party’s nomination to compete for the 14th District seat in the general election.
Hennessy, 71, who is also a grant writer for nonprofits, has served on the Board of Commissioners since 2006. She is being challenged by Christian Allen, 35, who has worked as an assembly fitter for a United Auto Workers shop, he previously told WKTV.
Related: Incumbent Democrat faces primary challenger for Kent County Commission’s 14th District
The primary winner will face Blake Edmonds, who is running unopposed for the Republican Party’s nomination.
Allen did submit a photo for MLive’s election preview or complete the Voters Guide candidate questionnaire prior to publication.
The 14th District encompasses Grand Rapids’ West Side and a portion of downtown.
Two Democrats will square off in the Aug. 4 primary election for a chance to represent Ottawa County’s 89th District in the Michigan House of Representatives.
Brown, 57, of Olive Township, is a freelance therapist. Nordman, 47, of Spring Lake, is in his 14th year as a professor of natural resources management at Grand Valley State University.
Related: A therapist and professor will face off in the Democratic primary for Michigan’s 89th House District
The winner will battle incumbent state Rep. Jim Lilly, R-Park Township, in the November general election. Lilly is seeking a third, two-year term.
The district encompasses Grand Haven, Ferrysburg, Spring Lake and Crockery, Grand Haven, Robinson, Blendon, Spring Lake, Olive, Park and Port Sheldon townships.
Two Republican are vying for the party’s nomination in the Aug. 4 primary for the Kent County Commission’s 6th District seat.
Incumbent Kent County Commissioner Stan Stek, a senior counsel with law firm Miller Canfield and vice chair of the county commission, is seeking a fourth, two-year term. He is being challenged by Timothy Walenga, a sales engineer.
Related: Incumbent faces newcomer in Republican primary for Kent County Commission’s 6th District
The primary winner will face Danielle Storey, a post-closing specialist for a local title company and member of the Kenowa Hills Board of Education. Storey is running unopposed for the Democratic Party’s nomination.
The 6th District encompasses all of Walker and a portion of northwestern Grand Rapids.
Two Republicans are competing in the Aug. 4 primary election for a spot on the November ballot to represent Ottawa County’s 90th District in the Michigan House of Representatives.
Rep. Bradley Slagh, R-Zeeland, is seeking a second term, two-year term. He’s facing Hudsonville Mayor Mark Northrup, who has served as mayor for the past five years.
Related: Republicans square off in 90th District primary race
The winner will face Democrat Christopher Banks in the November general election. Banks is running unopposed in the primary for the Democratic Party.
The conservative-leaning 90th House District encompasses Holland, Hudsonville, Zeeland and Jamestown Township.
Two Democrats are vying for a shot to represent Michigan’s 86th District in the House of Representatives in the Aug. 4 primary election.
Jeff Merritt, 55, is a realtor from Caledonia Township. His opponent is Sue Hayes. She did not submit a photo or complete the questionnaire for the online Voters Guide prior to publication.
Related: Two Democrats square off in 86th District state House primary race
The winner will face incumbent state Rep. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, in the November general election. Albert, who was first elected in 2016, is running unopposed for the Republican Party nomination.
The Republican-leaning district is comprised of portions of Ionia and Kent counties, including the cities of Belding, Ionia and Lowell, as well as the townships of Easton, Ionia, Orleans, Otisco, Ada, Bowne, Caledonia, Cascade, Grattan, Lowell and Vergennes.
Eight school districts have operating millage proposals on the Aug. 4 primary election ballots in Kent (1) and Ottawa (7) county to fund day-to-day operations.
Public schools must levy 18 mils on non-homestead properties to receive the full state foundation allowance.
The cost to a principal residence homeowner is zero. That’s because a non-homestead property is any property that is not a primary residence including, a business, rental property or second home.
Related: 10 school proposals in Kent, Ottawa counties on August ballot
Allendale Public Schools Operating Millage Renewal Proposal
The proposal allows Allendale Public Schools 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 and renews millage that will expire with the 2020 tax levy. The proposed renewal requests 21 mills, or $21 per each $1,000 of taxable value, for four years. The school will collect approximately $4,225,000 in its first year.
Coopersville Area Public Schools Operating Millage Proposal
This proposal will allow Coopersville Area Public Schools 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 full revenue per pupil foundation allowance. The district is seeking 18 mills, or $18 per each $1,000 of taxable value, for two years to provide funds for operating purposes. The millage will generate approximately $1,672,000 in its first year.
School District of the City of Holland Operating Millage Proposal
The operating millage proposal allows the City of Holland School District to levy the statutory rate 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 per-pupil revenue foundation allowance. The remaining 1.5 mills are only available to be levied to restore millage lost as a reduction required by the Headlee amendment. The district asks for the levy to be increased by 19.5 mills, or $19.50 on each $1,000 of taxable value, for three years to provide funds for operating purposes. The estimate of the revenue collected by the school district if the millage is approved and the .77 mill is levied in 2020 is approximately $442,000 (1.5 mills is to restore future millage lost as a result of the reduction required by the Headlee amendment and will only by levied to the extent necessary to restore such reductions.
Zeeland Public Schools Operating Millage Renewal Proposal
Zeeland Public Schools asks voters to approve a levy not to exceed 18 mills on all property, except principal residents and other property exempted by law, required for the school district to receive its revenue-per-pupil foundation allowance. The remaining .776 mill is only available to be levied to restore millage lost by a reduction under the Headlee amendment and will only be levied to the extent necessary to restore that reduction. The millage will levy 18.776 mills, or $18.776 on each $1,000 of taxable value for the year 2021, levying $8,912,964.
Ravenna Public Schools Operating Millage Renewal Proposal
Ravenna Public Schools will ask voters for 18 mills to provide funds for operational purposes, allowing 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. The ballot asks to levy 18.477 mills, or $18.477 on each $1,000 of taxable value, for five years, generating $675,000 in its first year. Voters in Muskegon and Ottawa counties will decide the measure.
Wayland Union School District Operating Millage Renewal Proposal
The Wayland Board of Education has an operating millage renewal proposal. It would 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 full revenue per pupil foundation allowance and restores millage lost as a result of the reduction required by the Headlee Amendment to the Michigan Constitution of 1963. Voters in Kent, Allegan, and Barry and will weigh in on the measure to renew 18.1773 mills ($18.1773 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a period of 4 years, 2021 to 2024, inclusive, and also be increased by 0.2097 mill ($0.2097 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a period of 4 years, 2021 to 2024, inclusive, to provide funds for operating purposes. If approved and 18 mills are levied in 2021, the district is estimated to receive approximately $4.1 million.
A couple districts have operating millages plus another tax proposal.
West Ottawa Public Schools
Operating Millage Renewal Proposal
West Ottawa Public Schools asks voters to approve an 18-mill proposal for operational purposes. The millage would levy $18 per each $1,000 of taxable value for one year, generating $13,405,600.
Sinking Fund Millage Proposal
West Ottawa Public Schools asks voters to approve a 0.30-mill proposal the create a sinking fund for the purchase of real estate for sites and for the construction or repair of school buildings for school security improvements, for the acquisition of technology and all other purposes authorized by law. The millage would levy $0.30 per each $1,000 of taxable value for five years, generating $686,600 in its first year.
Hamilton Community Schools
Operating Millage Proposal
The operating millage proposal allows Hamilton Community Schools to levy the statutory rate not to exceed 18 mills on all property, except principal residence and other property exempted by law, required for the district to receive its full per-pupil revenue and restores millage lost as a result of the Headlee Amendment. The proposal asks for the millage to be renewed by 18.6838 mills, or $18.6838 per each $1,000 of taxable value, for four years, and also be increased by 0.50 mill, or $0.50 per each $1,000 of taxable value, for four years, to provide funds for operating funds. The district will collect approximately $3,637,000 in its first year.
The Hamilton Board of Education has a $65.6 million bond proposal on the Aug. 4 primary election ballot. The purpose is to erect and furnish a new middle school building, remodeling and re-equipping school buildings, installing instructional technology, purchasing schools buses and developing playgrounds, athletic facilities, parking areas and driveways. The millage requests 1.83 mills, or $1.83 per each $1,000 of taxable value, for 26 years. The estimated simple average annual millage anticipated to be required to retire this bond is 3.25 mills, or $3.25 per each $1,000 of taxable value. The district does not expect to borrow from the state to pay debt service on the bonds. The total amount of qualified bonds currently outstanding is $33,105,000. The total amount of qualified loans currently outstanding is $0. The estimated computed millage rate may change based on changes in certain circumstances.
Lowell Area School in Kent County doesn’t have an operating millage but is requesting a tax proposal.
Two other districts have bond proposals cited earlier in the roundup -Cedar Springs in Kent County and Jenison in Ottawa County.
Lowell Building and Site Sinking Fund Replacement Millage Proposal
This proposal requests the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be assessed against all property within Lowell Area Schools, Kent and Ionia counties, be increased and levy a new additional millage of not to exceed 1 mill ($1.00 per $1,000 of taxable valuation) to create a sinking fund to be used for repairs, upgrades and the purchase of real estate for six year, 2021 through 2026, inclusive. If approved, the measure is estimated to net $907,580 the first year. The expenditure of the building and site sinking fund millage proceeds must be audited, and the proceeds cannot be used for teacher, administrator or employee salaries, maintenance or other operating expenses.
The deadline to apply to receive an absent voter ballot by mail is 5 p.m. on the Friday prior to the election. After this, people may vote an absent voter ballot in person at your local clerk’s office.
Voters may apply for an Absent Voter Ballot by:
- post card
- absentee ballot application
- in person at your local clerk’s office
- if you are eligible, with a Federal Postcard Application
Related: See candidates, proposals on the ballot in Kent County’s Aug. 4 primary election
Related: See what’s on the ballot in Ottawa County’s Aug. 4 primary election