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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

Inclusion and equity front and center at a GR Commissioner candidate forum

Michelle Jokisch Polo

Two candidates running for first ward city commissioner and three candidates running for the second ward took advantage of the opportunity to speak to a standing room only crowd at the Cook Library Center in the heart of the southwest side of Grand Rapids. 

The candidates all addressed the topic of inclusion, equity and affordable housing. 

Milinda Ysasi is one of three candidates running for a seat on the second ward. At the forum, Ysasi said if elected she would ensure power is shifted towards residents. 

Wendy Falb who served as the former president of the Grand Rapids Public Schools Board said if elected she would work so that every resident can access available resources.   

It’s Michael Farage’s second time running for the second ward city commissioner seat, he said if elected he will focus on making local government more transparent.  

Allison Lutz and Jon O’Conner are the two candidates running for a seat in the first ward. O’Conner has served as the commissioner in that ward for the last four years and is hoping to be reelected. 

O’Conner says his experience in real estate is key in how he will be addressing affordable housing in the community. 

Lutz who is challenging O’Conner says if elected she would focus on listening to the unique needs of every neighbor living in the first ward. If Lutz receives the majority of votes, she would be the youngest commissioner elected in the city of Grand Rapids. 

On August 6th voters in the second ward will head to the polls to choose between the candidates. If one candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote they will take the commission seat. Otherwise the top two candidates will have an opportunity to be elected in this year’s early November election. Because the first ward only has two candidates running that election will take place in November.

Michelle Jokisch Polo, WGVU News.