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Don’t forget to vote on November 6

 

Midterm elections are here, and this week the Post will be highlighting local candidates for school board and the City of Cedar Springs. Next week watch for an article on candidates in the Village of Sand Lake, those running for county/state offices, and a summary of proposals.

Cedar Springs Board of Education

There are four seats open for the Cedar Springs Board of Education. Three people will show up on the ballot for three of the seats: Mistie Bowser, Jeff Rivard, and Traci Slager. The other seat will not show names, but there are three people running for it as qualified write ins: Trent Gilmore, Paul Stark, and Rachel VanHorn.

Two four year terms:

Mistie Bowser

Mistie Bowser is running for a four-year term. She has lived in Courtland Township for 18 years. “I built a house in the CSPS school district after deciding this is where I wanted to raise my family,” she said. Four have already graduated from Cedar Springs, and one is still in school. “They’ve all been strong athletes and students in Cedar Springs and we are a very involved family within our schools and community.” She is a graduate of Rockford High School and Grand Valley State University, where she earned a Bachelors degree in PR/Advertising, and minored in communications.

“My primary reason in running for the CSPS board of education is my desire to be even more involved in my children’s education and have a direct impact in the different curriculums that will set a great foundation in learning for them,” she said.

She served on Mothers Against Drunk Driving Kent County (2000-2009) as treasurer, VP and president and on the public policy committee. She also served on the American Lung Association as a co chairwoman for RLC, a 2016 lung force hero and a spokesperson. 

“My main strength that I’m bringing to the board is my communication skills. I’ve learned these skills from embracing my faith, studying verbal/nonverbal communication at GVSU, my experience on other boards, in leadership roles, professional roles and being an involved parent with 4 children.

“The major challenge our district is facing is that our board is mostly a new board with new people. I look at this as a new beginning to take what worked from our boards in the past and build off of that with new ideas and continue to put students, staff and community first. I will listen with an open mind to all ideas and concerns and work with my fellow board members to come to a solution.”

Jeff Rivard

Jeff Rivard is running for the other four-year term. He currently serves as an appointee on the board. He and his wife Jennifer have two daughters, and have lived in the district for 11 years. He is a plant manager at a manufacturing company in Grand Rapids.

Jeff’s primary reason to run for office: “With my personal and professional experience, I can help our district improve,” he said. 

Besides the few months he’s been on the board, other experience includes serving on the CSHS parental advisory panel and the AYSO board of directors.

Main strength he brings to the board: “I have leadership skills that I have gained over years of leading people and assuring processes are implemented and followed. I have the ability to ask the right people the right questions to get the response that will affect the outcome.”

“Our largest challenge in Cedar Springs is now to focus on assuring that our students are receiving the best education that our district can give them.  The best way to properly address this challenge is to listen, learn and be willing to make tough decisions.”

Partial term ending in 2020 one seat:

no names are on the ballot, so you will need to write-in one of the candidates below: Trent Gilmore, Paul Stark, or Rachel VanHorn.

Trent Gilmore

Trent Gilmore is currently an appointee to the board. He grew up in Clare, Michigan. He and his wife and three children live in Algoma Township, and his wife grew up on a farm about two miles away. Trent works for Consumers Energy in a leadership role, and he and his family moved to Cedar Springs in 2014 when he had the opportunity to manage statewide. His education includes a Bachelor’s of Science in Industrial Management as well as a Master’s in Business Administration from Central Michigan University and a career working with people and making difficult decisions to best serve the community. 

Primary reason he is running for office: “I am running for the write-in term ending 2020 because I am personally vested in the success of the Cedar Springs School district as I have two children currently attending. I would like to serve our school district, students, and community with my skill set and help ensure that we continue to provide a quality educational environment for my kids and others who attend school at Cedar Springs Public School.” 

Besides currently serving on the board, other leadership experience includes serving on the parks and recreation committee in the City of Clare; and serving on a joint union and management committee at Consumers Energy to develop training for their workforce. “I have also led the Apprenticeship Committees for Electric Lines, Substation Construction, Substation Maintenance and Electric Meter Operations to ensure quality training and OJT,” he said.

The main strength he would bring to the board: “I have seen public education from several perspectives, first as a child of educators, as a student myself and now as a parent of students. I understand the need to support our schools and teachers to allow them to deliver a quality educational opportunity for our kids. I am familiar and experienced in labor relations having managed in a union environment for approximately 18 years in various roles in leadership and maintain a positive and healthy relationship with the union. I have experience making decisions related to customer service, finance and operations to deliver the best and serve others.”

The major challenge facing our district is the same challenge that faces every district: How do we give our kids the best education possible? The answer is we put them first and support our teachers, staff, and community to do all we can to invest in their future.

Paul Stark

Paul Stark is also running for the partial term ending in 2020. He has lived in Cedar Springs for 61 years—since he was 5 years old. He graduated from Cedar Springs High School, and taught fourth or fifth grade in the district for 37 years. His wife, Judy, is also a retired educator from Cedar Springs. They have one daughter who also graduated from Cedar Springs.

His primary reason to run for office: “I care that our district will continue to be a place where students are challenged, where staff is respected and empowered, and parents and community are included in the direction of the district.”

Other leadership experience: “I am currently a member of the Cedar Springs Community Library board, and while teaching I was on several committees. I also have been on the leadership board of The Springs Church.”

Main strength he would bring to the board: “I have been on the collaborative team while teaching. I have experienced outstanding partnerships with staff, administration, the school board and community.”

The major challenge facing the district: “There will be funding issues at any public school but it is imperative that the board choose wisely where the funds go. It is necessary to continue to support staff and administrators.”

Rachel Van Horn

Rachel Van Horn is also running for the partial term ending in 2020. She was born and raised in the Flint area and went to MSU for college. “I graduated in 2002 with a BS in Zoology. Shortly after graduation, I moved to Grand Rapids and started work as a Public Health Educator at the Kent County Health Department.” During her 13 years there she taught a substance abuse prevention program to elementary and middle school students; developed and taught a dog bite prevention/responsible pet ownership program in classrooms throughout the county; developed informational programs on substance abuse, communicable diseases, and West Nile Virus; and more. She decided to become a stay at home mom in 2015. She and her husband Aaron and two children have lived in the district for six years.

Her primary reason to run for office: “To ensure that ALL of children are represented and advocated for, regardless of ANY “difference” and to advocate for our teachers—that they may have everything they need to provide a safe and effective learning environment for our children.”

Other leadership experience: I am currently serving on the PTO board at Cedar Trails as the volunteer coordinator. I served on various committees during my time as a health educator including the Kent County Health Connect and Kent County Prevention Coalition.

Main strength she would bring to the board: I have the ability to look at the big picture…I don’t narrowly focus on solutions without considering the steps necessary to get to the solutions. I don’t favor band-aids that hide the true problems. My focus is, and will always be, on our children and how we can give them the best opportunities in life no matter what their circumstances may be. 

Major challenge facing our district: “The biggest challenge our district has right now is finding understanding and common ground between the Board, the superintendent, the district staff and the community. We need to listen to each other. We need to have the best interest of all of our children as a priority and work together to serve our community. We must regain the trust of our community. Each of these groups must be willing to listen, be open-minded, collaborate, and make tough decisions.” 

Partial term ending in 2022:

Traci Slager

Traci Slager is running to finish out a term ending in 2022. She currently is serving as an appointee in that position. She and her husband have lived here since 2007, and have three boys in Cedar Springs schools. She spent her early years in NE Grand Rapids and Rockford. She graduated from Taylor University (B.A. in Social Work) and the Indiana University School of Social Work (MSW). “I have worked as a youth director, ministry leader, substance abuse and theft intervention therapist, mentor, and advocate,” she said.

Traci’s primary reason to run for office: “I want to do my part ensuring that Cedar Springs Public Schools are a positive transformative force in the lives of young people. Working with youth has always been my passion and joy. I care deeply about seeing students have every opportunity possible to use their gifts and abilities to flourish and reach their fullest potential,” she said.

Besides serving on the board, her other experience includes being a founding member of two nonprofit organizations and serving on a handful of nonprofit boards and committees; serving as an adjunct professor at two universities; and she is currently on staff in Student Ministries at Blythefield Hills Baptist Church in Rockford, MI and teaches as an online Instructor for Taylor University. 

She said the main strength she brings to the board is building collaborative and healthy relationships within the district and broader community.

The major challenge she sees in the district is the support of teachers. “While there are many exciting opportunities for growth and further development within the district, I am most passionate about the challenge to make sure our teachers and staff have the support and resources necessary to handle the mounting pressures of being in the trenches. Without teachers and staff reaching their maximum potential, our students will not be able to reach theirs either.”

Cedar Springs City Council

There are two seats open on the Cedar Springs City Council this fall, and three people running for them. Both seats are four-year terms.

Pamela Conley

Pamela Conley is running for her third term on the City Council. She and her family have lived in Cedar Springs since 1999. She is a high school teacher for Forest Hills Central High School teaching support classes, communications, and policy debate. She coaches competitive policy debate and forensic speaking. She and her husband Clint have two children, a daughter who is a student at Grand Valley State University, and a son, who is a 6th grader at Red Hawk Elementary. 

Primary reason running for office: The goal of my last term was completion of the library and upgrades to the water system. We have accomplished those. We are now working to build a new fire station to meet the needs of the growing community, work with the Community Building Development Team to further develop The Heart Of Cedar Springs with an amphitheater and a connection to the North Country Trail. My next focus is to fix our roads, repair and add to our sidewalks, and with the continued revelations of PFAS in the water of our neighboring communities, I want to continue to test…and be prepared to filter for this in the event it becomes evident in our water system.” 

Other leadership experience: “I have been the Communications Representative and the Mayor Pro-tem for the City Council for the past 3 years. In these roles I have served on a variety of committees including the library construction and funding committees and the Red Flannel Festival contract committee. In addition to the 2 previous terms on City Council, I was elected to 2 terms on the Cedars Springs Board of Education, where I served as the Legislative Representative. I made multiple trips to both Washington DC and Lansing to advocate for funding and policy needs for Cedar Springs Public Schools.” She also served six years on the CS Library board, and was a founding member of the Garden Club.

Main strength she brings to the board: “I have experience and a long history of leadership and policy making for the Cedar Springs Community.”

Major challenge facing the City of Cedar Springs: “Our roads are in terrible shape and we have limited funds. We need to seek grants and work strategically to repair and replace roads as we also continue to repair and replace water infrastructure. This needs to be addressed strategically to get the best use of our limited funds.”  

Shandell Napieralski is also seeking one of the seats. She was born in Illinois, and her family moved to Cedar Springs when she began high school. She graduated in 1991, attended Grand Rapids Community College and then later Northwood University. “I have always lived in the area and returned specifically to settle my family here in Cedar Springs. I have lived here most recently for three years, but collectively 10 years. I work for Materials Testing Consultants, Inc., a Civil Engineering firm as a Constructions Material Testing Technician and Sample Runner. I am once divorced, once widowed, and recently have become engaged. I have four biological children, but also have stepchildren, exchange students, and other lost kids welcomed in our home.”

Primary reason running for office: “I care about my neighbors and community. I want to do more than hear their concerns and challenges. Through action, I aspire to participate in decision-making that will impact us as a whole.”

Other leadership experience: She has served as a Cedar Springs Election Commission Member and as the Board of Review Alternate.

Main strength she would bring to the board: “Problem solving is my key strength. I seek practical information and use critical thinking combined.”

Major challenge facing the City of Cedar Springs: As with most councils and boards, (the major challenge is) projects and resources. By becoming a part of the decision making, I would become more involved in the direction of our community growth and learn more of the how, when, what, why, and how much.”

Renee Race

Renee Race is also looking to fill one of the seats. “My husband and I have lived in Cedar Springs for over 12 years and live within walking distance to the heart of Cedar Springs. We have a daughter who attends CSPS and of course, I can’t forget our dog Clark. I work full time for a local company and enjoy volunteering for one of the local Girl Scout Troops. I joined the Cedar Springs Planning Commission in 2017 working alongside my fellow Commissioners, taking on the task of updating the city ordinances to make it easier for businesses to settle their roots here in Cedar Springs.”

Primary reason for running for office: “To educate the community about the challenges we face living in a small community and speak for the community on the topics that are most concerning to them.”

Other leadership experience:  “I am presently on the Cedar Springs Planning Commission, a volunteer leader for one of the local Girl Scout troops and I volunteer my time working on different United Way projects.”

Main strength she brings to the position: “I’m personally and emotionally connected to our community. I always strive to understand other viewpoints. I treat everyone as equals knowing different viewpoints are important in making decisions that will affect our community.”

Major challenge facing the City of Cedar Springs: “Community engagement and feedback. I enjoy connecting with neighbors and friends in our city. I am all about finding effective communication channels to get a wide range of community feedback on issues that concern our citizens. I want everyone to be comfortable with providing input to keep our small town feel, as we continue to improve our city and community.”

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2 Responses to “Don’t forget to vote on November 6”

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  1. […] Don’t forget to vote on November 6 10/25/18 The Post (Cedar Springs) Midterm elections are here, and this week the Post will be highlighting local candidates for school board and the City of Cedar Springs. Next week watch for an article on candidates in the Village of Sand Lake, those running for county/state offices, and a summary of proposals. … Cedar Springs City Council … Shandell Napieralski is also seeking one of the seats. She was born in Illinois, and her family moved to Cedar Springs when she began high school. She graduated in 1991, attended Grand Rapids Community College and then later Northwood University. “I have always lived in the area and returned specifically to settle my family here in Cedar Springs. I have lived here most recently for three years, but collectively 10 years. I work for Materials Testing Consultants, Inc., a Civil Engineering firm as a Constructions Material Testing Technician and Sample Runner. I am once divorced, once widowed, and recently have become engaged. I have four biological children, but also have stepchildren, exchange students, and other lost kids welcomed in our home.” […]

  2. […] Don’t forget to vote on November 6 […]


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