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Grand Rapids Commissioner Kurt Repart on resetting the City Manager search


Last week, Grand Rapids City Commissioners voted to restart the search for a new City Manager, the most powerful non-elected official in the city. To better understand their decision, WGVU is interviewing commissioners individually. We started with 1st Ward Commissioner Kurt Reppart. 

[KR] I'll just say it, I came prepared to cast my vote today for Carol Mitten. And I'll share what is important to me in this process. I'm looking for a candidate who has the ability to think deeply, seek iformatio from new sources, and integrate that with the staff, commission and community. 

[MA] That's First-ward Commissioner, Kurt Reppart, speaking last week at that decisive meeting. I caught up to him at his office in The Other Way Ministries and talked to him about his decision.  

[MA] You have a particular candidate in mind. What was it about her, I guess, response that captured you.  

[KR] She's coming from D. C. which is a city that we aspire to be like. Her breadth of experience included: real estate, zoning, economic development, transit, parks and Homeland Security. So a little bit of everything. And I thought she was incredibly thoughtful. She would pause, she answered the equity questions well. I also thought that she was going to do well with economic development, which matters a lot. 

[MA] Part of the reasoning for rebooting was to get more community feedback. So, how would you like to get that feedback and from whome. 

[KR] The Latino Community Coalition had some questions that they wanted to ask, Specific issues related to the Latio commuitity. And their answers in writing. Can we agree to a set of questions that we want the candidates to answer in wring so that everybody can see those questions regardless of if they can shwo up to the forums. 

[MA] Is there anything else about this whole proces that you would like to talk about? 

[KR] Obviously, anxiety is up. I mean, this is a powerful position that is not elected. And so, if we are going to b e a commuity that values community engagement, now is the time to err on that side. 

Mariano Avila is WGVU's inclusion reporter. He has made a career of bringing voices from the margins to those who need to hear them. Over the course of his career, Mariano has written for major papers in English and Spanish, published in magazines, worked in broadcast, and produced short films, commercials, and nonprofit campaigns. He also briefly served at a foreign consulate, organized for international human rights efforts and has done considerable work connecting marginalized people to religious, educational, and nonprofit institutions through the power of story.
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