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Joe Jones named new Grand Rapids commissioner

Hilary Farrell

The city of Grand Rapids has a new commissioner.

Joe Jones stepped into the role on Tuesday evening, following unanimous vote by the city board.

Jones says he looks forward to bringing his knowledge and experience to the table, as well as helping to amplify voices that may not always be heard.

"I’m excited about sharing what I know, but also recognizing that there’s a tremendous amount of indigenous wisdom in the neighborhoods in our city," he says. "And I think quite often that’s not considered."

Jones is the current president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Urban League, and has served on multiple city and local agency boards and committees. He’s also the first African-American to serve in the second ward role.

Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss notes Jones’ background and involvement as reasons for the appointment, highlighting in particular his work in community and police relations.

"He listens to other points of view, and he works hard to find a balanced solution," she says. "And I think that’s really critical right now."

Jones was one of three finalists for the open seat, which became vacant after then-commissioner Bliss was elected city mayor.

The seat is up for election in 2017, for a new four-year term to begin in 2018.

Fellow finalist Tami VandenBerg, Wellhouse executive director and local business owner, announced her campaign for the role later Tuesday evening.

Hilary is a General Assignment and Enterprise reporter for WGVU Public Media. She joined WGVU in September 2014 after several years of experience as a local news reporter, anchor and photojournalist in Midland, Saginaw and Bay counties. She's also worked as a financial and business reporter and audio field producer.
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