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Don’t forget to vote on August 2

Don’t forget to vote on August 2

The Michigan primary election is coming up on Tuesday, August 2. Voters will be asked to choose their favorite candidates in federal, state, and local elections, and vote on a few proposals. This will be the first election in the new districts, so be sure to check your ballot by going to https://mvic.sos.state.mi.us/Home/Index.

Following are some of the candidates running in races in our area.

Kent County Commissioner 3rd District

Jennifer Merchant – Republican

I was born and raised in Kent County, and my husband and I are raising our family in the community where I grew up. I am 32 years old, and my husband and I have an almost 4-year old son together, Tatum (Tater-tot), and I am the proud bonus mom to 3 children, Peyton (21), Gavin (19), and Grayson (16).  I currently work for the Michigan House Republican Policy Office as the Deputy Policy Director.  

This is my first time running for public office, but I have served on the J Board for the VanAndel Institute and other various boards.  I am running for County Commission because I love my community, and I want to ensure that we leave it better for our future generations. Now more than ever, Kent County needs elected officials that aren’t seeking the limelight and are solely dedicated to serving the residents. My goals, if elected, will be to fight for local control, support public safety, and ensure responsible spending of our tax dollars.

My campaign website is www.jennmerchant.com

Mark Laws – Republican

I was Mr. Mom for five years until my children were in full-day school. I am a semi-retired operations management professional, who gets more done while spending less. I have worked for UPS, the armored car industry, Rockwell Technology Group, the Federal Reserve Bank and Huntington Bank. I have lived in Cedar Springs for over 10-plus years. I have enjoyed proving a team of seven very specialty doctors wrong when they said I would never walk again. 

I have served on the Red Flannel Festival Board of Directors, the City of Cedar Springs Planning Commission, the wonderful Community Building Development Team, represented 1100 member banks of the 8th District of the Federal Reserve Bank on the committee to roll out new and improved Banknote Processing System that counts 60 notes a second, Chairperson for Single Adults of 85 church congregations in Michigan and NW Ohio.

I hope to earn the trust and confidence of the residents in my district by being prepared for every meeting, and then explaining to them how my vote supports and sustains the Constitution of Michigan, and the United States of America. My door will always be open, and my phone number available, to discuss any question or concern of Kent County Citizens about Kent County Commission business.

Election website address for more info: VoteMarkLaws.com

Janalee Keegstra – Democrat

I grew up in Plainfield Township on the northeast end of Grand Rapids where farms and apple orchards lined Plainfield Avenue. I am a 77-year-old retired office manager and have lived in Grattan Township for 51 years. My husband, Jim, and I have 2 children. Our son is a Master electrician and our daughter is a Speech-Language Pathologist who works in the public schools. This is the first time I have ever run for political office.

I served on the Grattan Volunteer Fire Department and the Michigan Appaloosa Horse Association, was a Kent County 4-H horse leader, a Cub Scout den mother, and served on the PTO at Grattan Elementary Public School.

I believe in a strong, effective, government that works for all people. As Commissioner I would support environmental protection and vibrant public schools that empower teachers and provide them with the tools necessary to do the job effectively.

She does not have a candidate website.

Candidates for state house district 91

The new 91st district covers the City of Cedar Springs, Village of Sand Lake, Oakfield Township, Solon Township, Nelson Township, and Spencer Township.

Pat Outman – Republican

Pat Outman is currently serving as state representative in the 70th District. He was born and raised in Six Lakes, MI, where he still lives, on the family farm with his wife, Autumn and son, Miles, where he can be near his family, friends, and the community he will always call home. Pat enjoys hunting and fishing and attends Lakeview Baptist Church.

Pat serves as a member on the board of directors for Montcalm County Farm Bureau and as a hunter and shooting sports enthusiast, Pat is a proud NRA member. Since a very young age Pat has been very active in Republican politics. He formerly served as the Montcalm County chair of the John James U.S. Senate Campaign and chairman of the Montcalm County Republican Party. He believes in building the grassroots of the Republican Party and has helped lead those efforts at a local level.

Pat fundamentally believes that people, not the government, are the best stewards of their hard-earned tax dollars. “We must always look at ways to allow Michigan residents to keep more of their income, and it’s even more important now as costs continue to rise.”

Check out where Pat Outman stands on all the issues at  https://www.patoutman.com/

Frank LaFata – Democrat

From his website: I am excited to run for this office and represent everyone living in District 91. I’m a husband, father, grandfather and resident in the district. My friends know that I build things. It is my job and I have been doing it for over 30 years. I have worked on bridges in Greenville, a power plant in Carson City, the S-Curve in Grand Rapids, and infrastructure all over the state. Let’s work together to Build a Better Michigan.

We can and should do more to assure we can LEAD in a Global Economy! I want to build on our educational foundation and a big part of that Build is support for our Educators. I will do that!

Check out his website at https://www.franklafata.com/home to see where he stands on other issues.

Tammy DeVries – Democrat (No photo available)

We don’t know anything about Tammy DeVries, other than she lives in the Cedar Springs area. She does not appear to have a candidate website sharing her views on issues or a social media site. She also did not list an email on her candidate listing. A recent article in the Greenville Daily News said she did not answer their questions.

Michigan Senate District 33

The newly drawn Senate District 33 covers Irons, Branch, Wolf Lake, Baldwin and part of Luther in Lake County, as well as Newaygo and Montcalm counties, and part of Kent and Ionia counties.

One Republican and one Democrat are running. 

Rick Outman – Republican

Senator Rick Outman is currently serving as senator in District 33. You can check out his official senate website at https://www.senatorrickoutman.com/ or his election website at https://www.rickoutman.com/.

Mark Bignell – Democrat

Mark Bignell is running on the Democrat side. To learn more about him, visit his election website at https://www.bigmarkforsenate.com/.

Representative in U.S. Congress – 2nd District

This new district covers mid and some of northern Michigan. There is one Democrat and two Republicans running.

John Moolenaar – Republican

Rep. John Moolenaar, of Midland, is currently serving in the 4th congressional district, and is now running for the newly redrawn 2nd district seat. You can check out where he stands on the issues at https://www.johnmoolenaarforcongress.com/issues.

Thomas Norton – Republican

Tom Norton, of Courtland Township, is also running for the 2nd District seat. A veteran of the Afghan War, Tom returned home and was inspired to run for public office in the Village of Sand Lake. As a Village Trustee and then Village President, Tom secured funding for infrastructure improvements that built better roads and provided quality drinking water, while also balancing the budget. His time there was not without controversy, however. His own board asked him to resign a month before his term ended, which he refused to do. You can read about that and more at www.cedarspringspost.com. To learn about where Norton stands on the issues, visit his website at https://tom.gop/.

Jerry Hilliard – Democrat

Jerry Hilliard, of Mount Pleasant, is running on the Democrat side. To see where he stands on the issues, visit https://jerryhilliard.com/.


Also on the ballot is the race for governor. You can access information on the candidates above, the governor’s race, and millage proposals by going to https://www.vote411.org/ballot.

You will also be voting for precinct delegates. You can find them at https://www.accesskent.com/Departments/Elections/.

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