Saturday, June 10, 2017

2017 Kalamazoo Election Preview

This article was last updated July 25, 2017.

Michigan will see several elections in 2017. This is a preview of elections in Kalamazoo County.   The November election will have Kalamazoo and Portage city elections.

May 2: Kalamazoo County rejected a tax increase to fund consolidation of 911 service 37.9% to 62.1%.  A renewal of the KRESA tax that was first passed in 2005 passed with 61.7%.

November 3: This is the day for local city elections.

Kalamazoo City Commission

The mayor and three seats on the Kalamazoo City Commission are up for election. The seven commissioners are Mayor Bobby Hopewell (on since 2003), Don Cooney (1997), David Anderson (2005), Shannon Sykes (2015), Erin Knott (2015), Jack Urban (2013), and Matt Milcarek (2015).

In 2014, Kalamazoo voters passed a charter amendment changing the charter by electing the mayor separately and implementing staggered four-year terms for the other seats (similar to the system Portage uses).  In 2015, Cooney, Anderson, and Sykes got four-year terms, while Knott, Urban, and Milcarek got two-year terms.

Hopewell, who has been mayor since 2007, will run again.  He is a liberal democrat.

Urban and Knott are running for reelection; Milcarek is not.  Eric Cunningham, who was appointed to a commission seat but narrowly lost in 2015, is running again.  Also running are
Charley Coss, former R candidate for county commission
Leona Carter, previous candidate for city commission

Portage City Council

The mayor and three seats on the Portage City Council are up for election. Peter Strazdas, who has been mayor since 2005, is retirng.  The other councilmembers are Terry Urban (2001), Claudette Reid (2005), Patricia Randall (2009), Jim Pearson (2011), Nasim Ansari (2013), and Richard Ford (2013).  In recent years, a divide has developed on the council between two factions.  One faction consists of Strazdas, Reid and Urban.  The other has been Randall, Pearson, Ford, and Ansari.

Councilmember Patricia Randall is running for mayor.  Randall had to resign her position to run for mayor.  Councilmember and former county commissioner (2002-2012) Nasim Ansari is also running.  Ansari is a conservative Republican.

The three seats up for election are held Ansari, Reid, and Urban.  Reid and Urban will both run again.  Nonincumbent candidates are
Jim Stephanak, former Kalamazoo Gazette publisher
Phil Stinchcomb, a conservative former Kalamazoo County Commissioner (2010-14)
Lori Knapp, a lawyer
Tim Earl, fire safety consultant
Chris Burns, accountant
Wayne Stoffer, business consultant

There may be a countywide millage on the ballot related to senior services.

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