Grand Haven Tribune: Get to know the candidates in local races

Get to know the candidates in local races

Tribune Staff • Aug 2, 2018 at 3:30 PM

The Tribune distributed questionnaires to candidates in contested races in the upcoming Aug. 7 primary elections. Their responses are listed below.

Note: The responses may have been formatted, but have not been edited in any way. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order.  


Name: Rob Davidson

Political party (if applicable): Democrat

Office you’re running for: U.S. Congress Second District – Michigan

Age: 47

Occupation: Emergency physician

Education: MD, College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University, 1998

Elected offices held: Spring Lake School Board, trustee

Community Involvement:

As the father of three kids, I have had the opportunity to volunteer with them in many different areas.

I was a coach with Total Trek Quest, an after school running program for 3rd-5th grade boys from 2012-2014.  We trained for 10 weeks and completed a 5k at the end of training.

I was a co-founder and leader of Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads Of Great Students) at Jeffers Elementary School in Spring Lake from 2014-2017. Watch D.O.G.S. is a national program that brings dads into schools to volunteer for an entire day from bus drop-off to pick-up.  The program in Spring Lake was wildly successful and has since spread to Holmes Elementary School and schools in Grand Haven.

I served for 2 years from 2015-2017 on the Spring Lake Schools Foundation Board.

Why are you running for office?

As an emergency physician in a small rural hospital serving a countywide population that includes low-income, underserved populations, I see every night what’s wrong with our nation’s broken healthcare system: Patients who can’t afford to see a regular doctor to care for a chronic condition until it’s too late; patients with huge out-of-pocket costs that can’t afford critical tests; uninsured patients overdosing on opioids who will need long-term treatment they won’t be able to pay for; patients whose first thought upon recovering from a heart attack is how they’ll pay the bills, instead of how they’ll regain their health; and so many more harrowing stories. I’m running because I believe healthcare is a basic right and that healthcare for all is critical to the health, safety and success of our citizens and our nation.

What do you think are the 2/3 biggest issues facing the city/county/state right now?

1. I’m committed to working with all sides toward healthcare for all.

2. As a trustee of our local public schools, I care deeply about educational issues, especially building partnerships to strengthen schools so they can serve all students and making college and post-high-school education affordable for all families, with the goal of providing opportunity for all Americans to pursue their chosen careers and their fullest potential.

3. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that belong to all of us, and as a member of Congress I will work to ensure it remains clean and healthy. One way we can achieve this is by requiring polluters pay to clean up when they contaminate our lakes, rivers and drinking water.

How do you plan to address these issues? 

1. We can address the wide range of significant healthcare challenges U.S. families face, from managing chronic illnesses and promoting healthier lifestyles to ensuring families and small businesses don’t face financial hardships because of skyrocketing healthcare costs, is to work toward healthcare for all. One model that is currently languishing in Congress, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act (HR 676), is a good starting point to begin the process of ensuring every American has quality, affordable healthcare.

2. I believe in providing students and their families support before and after the K-12 stage by working toward expanding high-quality early-childhood education for all low- and middle-income families, and providing low-cost, low-interest loans for students to go to college or continue their education, through scholarships for eligible low- and middle-income students.

3. Two of the most significant conservation and public health challenges West Michigan faces are contamination of our Great Lakes and drinking water, and carbon pollution. I support proposals that would make corporate polluters pay to clean up when they contaminate our lakes and drinking water, and I support efforts to reduce carbon pollution, including transitioning to a clean energy future.

What qualifications/experiences set you apart from your opponents?

I am a frontline 20-year emergency physician with experience in urban and rural ERs who has seen everything that could possibly walk through a hospital’s doors, from fatal gunshot wounds to a preexisting condition that was ignored because a family couldn’t afford to see a doctor, to opioid overdoses and patients with untreated mental illnesses. I have delivered babies, I have saved lives and I have suffered the secondary grief of losing patients. I have experienced the joy and satisfaction of helping countless patients recover from strokes and other debilitating illnesses or injuries. I have heard countless patients share painful, heartbreaking stories of struggling with our broken healthcare system. As a veteran ER doctor, I understand the practice and policy of medicine and healthcare, which is one of the most significant concerns of Americans today who face skyrocketing out-of-pocket costs and worry whether their preexisting conditions will be adequately treated.

Name: Bill Huizenga

Political party (if applicable): Republican

Office you’re running for: 2nd Congressional District

Age: 49

Occupation: Small Business Owner, Huizenga Gravel

Education: B.A. Political Science

Elected offices held: State Representative 90th District (2003-08), U.S. Representative (2011- current)

Community Involvement: Active member of Haven Christian Reformed Church,Small Business Owner

Why are you running for office?

I am running for office to make sure our children have even more opportunity than we had growing up in West Michigan. That means making sure the economy is growing and creating good jobs, working to restore local control of education decisions, and addressing fiscal responsibility over the short, medium, and long term so we don’t burden our children and grandchildren with mountains of debt.  

What do you think are the 2/3 biggest issues facing the city/county/state right now?

Growing the economy, protecting the Great Lakes, and combating the opioid crisis.

How do you plan to address these issues? 

Economy: While the economy has dramatically improved for many Ottawa County families, it remains a critical priority of mine and more work must be done to increase economic opportunity and future growth across Grand Haven, Ottawa County and West Michigan.  This means eliminating unnecessary regulatory red tape that makes it more difficult for small businesses across Ottawa County to grow and create jobs. We must also focus on policies that enhance growth and open new opportunities to export products made in West Michigan. I am deeply concerned about the negative impact overly broad tariffs could have on West Michigan’s economy, manufacturers, and agricultural community. 

Great Lakes: As co-chair of the Great Lakes Task Force, I have built bipartisan support to fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). This program has a proven track record of effectively cleaning up polluted sites, combating the spread of invasive species such as Asian carp, and restoring Great Lakes habitat for fish and wildlife. On the economic side, I have led the charge to restore the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund so our ports (Muskegon) and harbors (Grand Haven) are properly dredged. Our ports and harbors are critical to growing the local economy and play a significant role in exporting more made in Michigan products.

Opioids: The opioid crisis is impacting communities across the nation and unfortunately West Michigan is no different. Individuals and families in Ottawa County and across Michigan lack access to proper mental health resources and substance abuse treatment and recovery options. This is why I have teamed up with specialists at Pine Rest to help those in need get back on their feet. Currently, outdated Medicare and Medicaid regulations are restricting access to mental health care for individuals who need it the most. Recently I have supported legislation to enhance treatment, improve recovery, and prevent opioids from entering the country. Moving forward, we are going to need coordination between friends, family members, and all levels of government to combat this crisis. 

What qualifications/experiences set you apart from your opponents?

I was born in Zeeland, Michigan, and have spent my whole life here in West Michigan. As a small business owner and a former Realtor, I know what it takes to make pay role, and understand that it is the private sector that creates jobs. As a policymaker, I have worked to protect the Great Lakes as well as implement real solutions that remove government barriers and increase opportunity for hardworking families in Ottawa County and across West Michigan.


Name: Rett DeBoer

Political party (if applicable): Republican

Office you’re running for: State Senate District 30

Age: 67

Occupation: Retired

Education: University of Michigan, graduated with a BA in French,  with concentrations in Cinema and photography

Elected offices held: None

Community Involvement: Campaign Co-Coordinator, Patrick Colbeck for Governor, Volunteer Coordinator and assistant to the Campaign Co-chair for the 2016 Presidential Campaign Ottawa County, Precinct Delegate, Delegate to the State Convention 2017, served on the Ottawa County GOP Executive Committee 2017/18 and Outreach co-chair for 2017. Prayer Coordinator at my church, Volunteer for Set-Free Ministry, trained to do Freedom Appointments for Wellsprings of Freedom, Intl.

Why are you running for office? Conservative leaders such as Senator Patrick Colbeck, and Speaker of the House Tom Leonard have inspired me with their conservative stance on the issues. I have three children, three step-children, eighteen grand-children and four of these are blended families, most of them living in Ottawa County. I feel strongly that God has led me into politics and especially this Senate Seat, and where He leads, He guides and provides.

What do you think are the 2/3 biggest issues facing the city/county/state right now?

1. Education and improving our graduation rate, ability to have college-ready students, and children who can read in the third grade.

2. Lower car insurance and registration fees, especially for seniors.

3. Fixing the roads and infrastructure.

How do you plan to address these issues?

1. I want to fix education from the ground up not force-feed teachers and students from the Federal and State level. Get rid of Common Core and teach the basics, not teach for tests. Reduce regulations and reporting which takes excessive time away from teacher preparation.

2. Work on getting rid of fraud in the car insurance industry… set some fees so that a $65 x-ray doesn’t cost $650. Address the State mandates and lower the cost of health insurance, which affects car insurance rates.

3. Put the money into the roads that was originally ear-marked for them, but more importantly, build higher quality roads with a rubberized surface that last 3-4 times longer(already tested).

What qualifications/experiences set you apart from your opponents? I am married, with a large family, which gives me a unique perspective and worldview. I have a passion for young people and have been volunteering two days a week at Muskegon Heights Middle School. I want to see our young people succeed, which means education, skilled-trades, work opportunities at a young age to build skills and a good work ethic. I have started and built up my own business from scratch to a 2500sq. ft store. I am active in the Republican Party, a staunch conservative who will do what’s right in Lansing. I don’t need a career or the money. I don’t plan to fill a seat or take my lead from special interests or the Caucus. I’ll be true to my values and what I am running on. I am also active in my church.

Name: Daniela R. Garcia

Political party (if applicable): Republican

Office you’re running for: 30th Senate District

Age: 39

Occupation: Michigan State Representative, 90th House District

Education: West Ottawa High School, B.A. University of Michigan, M.A. Catholic University

Elected offices held: Michigan State Representative, elected in 2014 and 2016

Community Involvement:

Representative Daniela Garcia has been involved in the community on a variety of levels including:

Ronald McDonald House of West Michigan, Former Board Member

Children’s Afterschool Achievement Program, Former Board Member

Kid’s Food Basket, Former Board Member

West Coast Chamber Public Policy Committee Member

Leadership Grand Rapids, Graduate

GR Chamber of Commerce Education and Health and Human Services Committee, Former Member

Why are you running for office?

I am running to be a voice for Ottawa County in the State Senate. We spent the last eight years recovering from the lost decade, during which time I like many others had to find opportunities out of state. Michigan needs to continue our momentum over the next eight years. Ottawa County needs a State Senator who has a strong record of collaboration with our local businesses, education institutions and local officials to put policies in place that will continue to work to strengthen our local economy and address the needs of our community, I am that person.

What do you think are the 2/3 biggest issues facing the city/county/state right now?

My top priorities include working to sustain the economic progress we have made over the last eight years, addressing the education, workforce and talent needs of our community and maintaining a fiscally responsible budget that is completed in a timely fashion. Other priorities include addressing infrastructure needs and lowering auto insurance rates for Ottawa County residents.

How do you plan to address these issues? 

Since my time in the legislature, I have made it a priority to understand the needs of our growing community. I have met with businesses, educators, local units of government, community members etc. to identify the concerns and opportunities in our region and then advocate on behalf of Ottawa County in the legislature. My 15 years of public policy experience give me a unique understanding of the legislative process which has helped me get results for Ottawa County.

I will continue to work with the business and education community to address the economic and talent issues that face our state. I will continue to work on legislation that provides for deregulation and smarter regulation in order for our business community to succeed. I have worked on and will continue working to provide flexibility in our schools so that our students may enter the workforce prepared when going directly into the workforce, into a skilled trade or a two or four-year degree program. I will continue to support programs that provide for skilled training for individuals who are currently in the workforce and need additional skills for the jobs of today and the future.

With respect to roads and infrastructure, I will continue to advocate for responsible investment from the State’s general fund and increased accountability. Since my time in the legislature, Ottawa County has received over $100 million in infrastructure funding. I support auto no-fault reforms that pass along any savings realized by insurance companies go to the policyholders of Ottawa County, that protects seniors, that does not subsidize the auto insurance rates of Detroit.

What qualifications/experiences set you apart from your opponents? 

I have a unique background in public policy, with over 15 years of policy experience. I know how to work with stakeholders, craft policy and understand the appropriations and legislative process. I take the time to study legislation and work with individuals in our community to understand the policy implications that it will have on our community. Throughout my career, I have worked on policy issues that impact all residents of Ottawa County and Michigan these are commerce and trade, education/workforce and health care policies. These policy issues have been a focus of mine while serving in the Michigan House of Representatives. I make it a point to be present, accountable and transparent while serving our community.

Name: Joe Haveman

Political party (if applicable): Republican

Office you’re running for: State Senator, 30th District

Age: 58

Occupation: Director, Governmental Affairs, Hope Network

Education: B.S. Public Administration, Ferris State University

Elected offices held: State Representative, 2009-2014; Ottawa County Commissioner, Holland City Council member

Community Involvement: Many organizations, including my church, Ridge Point Community Church, Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce’s public policy committee; Zeeland city economic restructuring; Ottawa County Republican executive committee.

Why are you running for office?

To finish the job I worked on as chair of the House Appropriations Committee of bringing Michigan back to economic and social leadership nearly destroyed during the “lost decade”, 2003-2011, and to bring civility and cooperation to a political process that has degenerated into a lack of respect for one’s opponents and colleagues. 

What do you think are the 2/3 biggest issues facing the city/county/state right now?

1. Strengthening local government as they are closest to the people and can respond to problems more quickly with less cost than can Lansing bureaucrats;

2. Restoring civility and honor to our issue and political discussions, thereby increasing the opportunity for cooperation and ending gridlock on such issues as the high cost of auto insurance;

3. Reforming Michigan’s Mental Health delivery system to squeeze out the bureaucratic hurdles between money appropriated for mental health care treatment and the services actually reaching the consumer.

How do you plan to address these issues? 

1. Increase revenue sharing for local governments to address roads, water, sewer and other infrastructure needs without raising taxes by using my experience as House Appropriations Chair to re-direct savings found in duplication and waste in state departments to fund more tools for local government.  

2. Encourage the initiation of civility courses in schools, colleges and state employee training programs to encourage positive debate and constructive critical speech. In the Legislature, insist on enforcement of existing rules that prohibit personal attacks during debates.

3. Using my Hope Network experience and contacts within the mental health service community, employ the Legislature’s oversight authority to streamline the delivery of services to those needing them.  I will work to cut the red tape that bogs down the delivery of these critically needed services.

What qualifications/experiences set you apart from your opponents?

Alone among the four candidates for state senator I have the following combination of experiences: husband, father, grandfather; 21 years in the construction industry; 30 years of public service in Holland, Ottawa county, and the Michigan House; 3.5 years working for Hope Network and their mission of providing opportunity for the disabled in our state.

Name: Jeanette Schipper     

Political party (if applicable): Democrat

Office you’re running for: State Senate, district 30

Age: 41

Occupation: Administration, Western Theological Seminary

Education: Attended Davenport University, Attended MSU, Currently enrolled at Western Theological Seminary

Elected offices held:  None

Community Involvement:

Member Faith Leaders for Justice

Advisory Board Member Lakeshore Clubhouse/Lakeside Clubhouse

Survival Council for Center for Women in Transition

Board Member of Latino Seminary Scholarship Fund

Community Park Party Organizer

Community Event Planning for churches

Why are you running for office?

I believe in democracy and the importance of the voice of The People, I am running to represent a voice of many that have been under-represented for far too long. I desire to bring compassion back into government and invest in people, rather than corporations.

What do you think are the 2/3 biggest issues facing the city/county/state right now?

How do you plan to address these issues? 

Living wages and Affordable Housing:

I support a minimum $15 per hour wage and will vote on legislation to increase the minimum wages in Michigan.

I will work with municipalities to address new construction initiatives that will incentivize new homes being built in the $150,000 - $250,000 range. The purpose will be affordable housing and home ownership. We have people paying for rent, when they could be owning a home. We need to work on ways in which we can make home ownership a reality for every family.

Healthcare/Mental Health:

We must first stabilize the Affordable Care Act, then work towards a Medicare-for-All plan that removes profit and reduces healthcare cost for employers and employees.

I want to address Mental Health discrimination by streamlining complaints for those seeking mental health treatment.  Hold the corporations and institutions accountable to the Federal Parity Law and customer access of services. I will lead Michigan in innovation for mental health with brain illness research and high quality, equal access, treatment centers that provide a holistic approach to mental health recovery.

Public Education

We must first stop raiding the K-12 education fund.

Stop our tax dollars from going towards for-profit charter schools and private schools.

Create equitable funding distribution to school districts.

Fund schools with a tiered Michigan tax that is equitable and fair to Michigan residents.

What qualifications/experiences set you apart from your opponents?

My opponents have experience in politics, I have experience in people. I have a wealth of life experience that allows me to empathize with those in poverty, those experiencing homelessness, abuse, and those struggling to pay bills each week.  I come with the lens of a Latina, a survivor, a mother, and an advocate. I sit on boards that matter to people, because I represent the voice of the people. I want to bring that voice into government and put people above profits and bottom lines.

Name: Roger Victory

Political party (if applicable): Republican

Office you’re running for: State Senate 30th District

Age: 53

Occupation: Farmer - Owner/Operator of Victory Farms

Education: Davenport University - BA in Business Management, Associates in Logistics.

Elected offices held: State Representative 88th House District

Community Involvement: 

Advisory Board Member for Careerline Tech Center.

Former President Ottawa County Farm Bureau.

Deacon and Elder at First Hudsonville Christian Reformed Church.

Why are you running for office?

I am running for State Senate to preserve our Ottawa County Values. Ottawa County is a special place and I want to make sure we keep working together to improve our quality of life and deliver a brighter future for our community.

What do you think are the 2/3 biggest issues facing the city/county/state right now?

Auto Insurance Reform

Road and Infrastructure Funding

Affordable Housing

How do you plan to address these issues?

1. Auto Insurance Reform

I am proud to have voted to lower our auto insurance rates. We pay the highest car insurance rates in the country and they are continuing to go up. The current system is simply unsustainable and unfair. We have to stop talking about the problem and take actions to solve it. To just say “NO” to the only chance we have had in 30 years to lower our car insurance rates is foolish and inexcusable.

I support auto insurance reform that: gives drivers a choice, stops fraud and abuse in the insurance system, requires transparency for auto no fault claims, and most importantly will prohibit healthcare services from charging more for auto accident related care.

2. Road and Infrastructure Funding

I recently worked with the Governor and a few fellow Representatives to pass the 21st Century Infrastructure Program. This legislation, the first of its kind in the nation, will provide us with a full understanding of the condition of our roads, bridges, waterways, and utilities. We will be able to properly budget and plan for comprehensive repairs and ensure that we are using proven best practices to build better and longer lasting roads, bridges, and water systems.

This is important because, while we can all see and feel how bad our roads are, it is much harder to see the condition of our water systems and other underground utilities. We have to look at all of our infrastructure concerns and make sure we are building a better and safer future for our community.

To better support these types of smart investments I have also secured increased road funding every year I served on the Transportation Budget Committee. I have worked hard to cut government waste and ensure that the funding goes directly into road repair.

3. Affordable Housing

Ottawa County has some of the largest population growth in the state, and as a result the demand for housing in our communities has skyrocketed. While increased property values can be a good thing, we are also dealing with record low unemployment and a decreased labor supply. So the people we need to come here to work are not able to find a place to live. To address this immediate need I have been working to support and expand regional transit options. When we are able to connect the Grand Haven, Holland, and Hudsonville communities to the Grand Rapids and Muskegon area transit systems we can quickly bring that much needed skilled labor to our local businesses.

What qualifications/experiences set you apart from your opponents?

I am running for State Senate as Farmer Rog, just like a our founding fathers had intended. A government made up of the citizens, not career politicians and lobbyists, but real people. The real people who live and work here, who respect our community and look out for each other.

This is why I hold my office hours on Saturdays, outside of 9-5, and at some of the busiest restaurants around. I want to talk to the hardworking men and women of Ottawa County, to make sure their concerns are heard. We deserve a State Senator that is open, honest, and accessible. If you are meeting with more lobbyists than you are residents, you are doing the job wrong.


Name: Jim Lilly

Political party (if applicable): Republican

Office you’re running for: State Representative 89th District

Age: 36

Occupation: Commercial Banker currently serving as a State Representative


High School - West Ottawa

Bachelor of Science in Economics – John Carroll University

Currently enrolled in GVSU’s MBA Program

Elected offices held: State Representative 89th District

Community Involvement: I am currently serving on the project related investment committee of the Holland Zeeland Community Foundation and the Public Policy Committee for the West Coast Chamber.  Prior to election, my wife and I served as Lighthouse Leadership Co-Chairs for the Ottawa County United Way as well. 

Why are you running for office?

I’m running for re-election to the Michigan House of Representatives because my wife and I have invested a great deal in our relationships in West Michigan and we want to live here for the rest of our lives, but our state continues to face a great deal of obstacles. We need to continue to send people to Lansing with financial and business experience who can tackle these issues head on and articulate the challenges to their constituents to generate support for solutions. I’ve worked hard to get the state to put a plan in place to pay off its debt and to invest in infrastructure and K-12 education. There’s still a great deal of good work to do which is why I am asking voters for a second term.

What do you think are the 2/3 biggest issues facing the city/county/state right now?

My top legislative priorities are to prioritize investment in our state’s infrastructure, and to increase the standard of living for hard working Michiganders. This can be achieved by driving down the cost of insurance and increasing household incomes by promoting skill trades opportunities. 

How do you plan to address these issues? 

First, let’s start with discussing skilled trades.  Communities across the state can learn a lot from the things we are doing well here in West Michigan with respect to skills training. These best practices should be replicated across the state.  I’m working hard in Lansing to ensure that students have more options in our state when it comes to career and technical education. Many of our graduation requirements are set up to put kids on track for a four-year university degree and while that works well for some students, it is not a fit for everyone. Providing additional flexibility in K-12 education is something I have been a champion of in Lansing and I’m happy to see some progress in this area since I’ve taken office. But there is still more to be done. 

Next, when it comes to auto-insurance, reforming our system to eliminate fraud, limiting and eliminating benefits for those that don’t pay their fair share into the system, and ensuring that we are not paying inflated rates for attendant care are all items that can drive down the cost of insurance for drivers.  These are common sense reforms that I’ll continue to advocate for in our state.

With respect to infrastructure.  Since my election, Republicans in the state house have accelerated the reconstruction of Michigan roads and bridges with the largest annual investment in the state’s history amounting to around $4 billion dollars. We’ve made more progress in this area than any previous legislature. If re-elected, I’ll continue to prioritize spending on roads and make every effort to do so without increasing taxes. There is still waste in government and in the Michigan Department of Transportation. This must be rooted out before elected officials can say they need more money from taxpayers to fix our roads.

What qualifications/experiences set you apart from your opponents?

Prior to serving in the state house, I had extensive experience chairing committees and boards both in non-profit and business environments. Having served my first term in the legislature, I now have experience translating these skills to work in government. I have strong ties to the West Michigan business communities and have been a member of the West Coast Chamber's Public Policy Committee for many years. I have a strong grasp of state issues and the ability to connect our community with the resources it needs to be successful.

Name: Jerry A Sias.

Political party (if applicable): Democrat.

Office you’re running for: Michigan House of Rep, District 89th.

Age: 47 years old.

Occupation: Retired Electrician.

Education: Studied electrical theory at G.R.C.C.

Elected offices held: None.

Community Involvement: Commander of the Grand Haven V.F.W.

Why are you running for office?

I'm running to represent the middle class, working poor, retired, and small business owners who have been left behind in this economy. I’m not going to Lansing to make new laws and regulations. I’m going to Lansing to repeal, and replace laws that have weakened the Middle Class and small business.

What do you think are the 2/3 biggest issues facing the city/county/state right now? How do you plan to address this?

1. Mental Health is a massive issue in Ottawa County. In 2014 our county lost 7 million dollars in funding while caseloads increased by 11%. We passed a millage in 2016 for 3 Mill but still face a 4 million dollar deficit. This issue will be resolved by eliminating the red tape in Lansing and more funding.

2. Auto Insurence needs reform. Michigan auto insurance rates are the highest in the country. Our insurance rates should not be determined by your zip code, income, and credit rating. As a survivor of a near catastrophic auto accident, I know the importance of quality insurance.

What qualifications/experiences set you apart from your opponents?

I've had many experiences in my life which gives me a unique understanding of issues that face the citizens of Michigan. I served eight years in the military. After my service, I started an electrical apprenticeship worked my way up to became a union foreman and started my own electrical business. In my fourth year of business, I was in a catastrophic auto accident and was forced to retire from the electrical trade.
Now I want to serve my country again by becoming your state Representative. I will bring the knowledge of being a working-class family, soldier, leader, small business owner, and a survivor.

Name: Beverly Zimmerman

Political party (if applicable): Republican

Office you’re running for: State House of Representatives 89th District

Age: 60

Occupation: Retired

Education: Behavioral field with Schools, Juvenile Prisons, Special needs children and adults and Senior citizens. Some college and two Correctional Academies.

Elected offices held: Currently an elected 10th Precinct Delegate

Community Involvement: Volunteer for Special Olympics, Scool dances and for Special needs Preschoolers.

Why are you running for office? We do not get proper representation from the people currently in office. It is time for a change. The average citizen has no voice in Lansing.

What do you think are the 2/3 biggest issues facing the city/county/state right now?

Education, Tax protection for seniors and Environmental quality.

How do you plan to address these issues? 

Job skills for high school students, Freeze property tax assesment for seniors based on age and income level, Frequent and consistent testing of all municipal water supplies.

What qualifications/experiences set you apart from your opponents?

Actual life experiences such as teaching, actually working with seniors with fixed incomes and knowing their concerns and fears, living in an area with chemical contamination and the detrimental affects on life, property values and the lack of concern by the companies and state government.


Name: Philip Kuyers

Political party (if applicable): Republican

Office you’re running for: County of Ottawa Commissioner 9th District

Age: 59

Occupation: Dairy Farmer

Education: Hudsonville Unity Christian High School

Elected offices held: County Commissioner

Community Involvement: Current Ottawa County Commissioner 9th District, Ottawa County Parks Commission, Ottawa County Parks Board, Ottawa County Economic Development, Chair of the Ottawa County Water Task Force Board.

Why are you running for office? This is my home and I am passionate about its continued success and the quality of living for others that share it.

What do you think are the 2/3 biggest issues facing the city/county/state right now?

Opioid Crisis

Community and Mental Health

Road and Water Quality

How do you plan to address these issues? 

Opioid Crisis- begin with working with the sheriff’s department by giving them the resources necessary to be able to control or contain the trafficking of heroin and opioids and educating the people of the crisis in Ottawa County.

Community and Mental Health- to work with the community and mental health on resources and continue to lobby the state and federal entities for the funds necessary for Ottawa county mental health.

Roads- continue to improve communication with road commission along with communicating to the state the imperative funds for Ottawa County

Water- make sure we are utilizing our resource of water in the aquafers that will secure them to be there for generations by developing an infrastructure that keeps up with the housing and business needs in West Michigan.

What qualifications/experiences set you apart from your opponents?

Experienced as County Commissioner as past Chair of the Board of Commissioners. Experienced the established one of the lowest Mileage Rates in the State. Experienced working alongside Sheriff Kempker for the community safety. 40 years of small business ownership of a dairy farm which connects me to the agriculture sector of the county which is one of the top agriculture counties in the state.  

Name:  Pat VerDuin

Political party (if applicable): Republican

Office you’re running for: Ottawa County Commissioner 9th District

Age: 61

Occupation:  Principal, Executive Coaching Business

Education:  Masters in management from Aquinas College, B.A. from Grand Valley State University & Associate Paralegal Degree

Elected offices held: None

Community Involvement: Children’s Advocacy Center, Mi-Works Workforce Board, Ottawa County Planning Commission & Grand Haven Area Community Foundation Trustee

Why are you running for office? To serve, learn and lead in my community. To give back to a community that has given so much to me and my family.

What do you think are the 2/3 biggest issues facing the city/county/state right now? How do you plan to address these issues? 

Land Use - The recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows Ottawa County continues to be a leader in growth in the state of Michigan. We are a destination for new families and for those seeking the quality of life found here during their senior years.  75% of Lakeshore area businesses plan to expand in the next three years anticipating as many as 1,906 new jobs according to a 2017 Business Intelligence Report for the Lakeshore region. The availability of land and facilities is a challenge that was highlighted in this report. We are a community who has a strong legacy in it’s farming and agriculture industry as well as it’s parks and recreation. The careful planning and preservation of our land and green space that is so apart of our identity must be in the equation.  We must stay ahead of the growing curve with thoughtful planning and collaborative regional discussions. As in the face of other challenges we have shown ourselves to be the model that others look to. Add to this the need for housing and alternative energy like solar gardens who are all competing for land and one can see that this is no small endeavor for our communities.

Water Quality - Managing our groundwater is intimately connected to the decisions we make in how we use and develop our land. One can not be a priority over the other they must be apart of the master planning process.  Over the past 5 years Ottawa County has been working with experts in the field to assess the quality of the groundwater.  Urban areas used municipal pipelines that pump water from Lake Michigan.  Rural areas are served by private wells that pump groundwater from the ground. We know that in Ottawa County clay layers unique to the geology of our area limit water from recharging. Additionally we know that there is an increase in sodium chloride due to the increased water consumption and lack of freshwater recharge. The impact of freshwater recharge means decreased water levels or dry wells.  This should matter to all of us regardless of where we live or get our water.  The impact is that water tastes salty, crops are damaged, plumbing is corroded and eventually health is effected.  Ottawa County is playing a key facilitative role with area municipalities in order to develop a groundwater management plan that requires active participation from all of us. 

Social Service - With growth and water considerations the need to provide public health and safety is one of the third legs on the stool to maintaining a balance in our ecosystem of life. Social services must keep up with the demands of it’s residents. Our Health Department, Mental Health Services, Law Enforcement and Justice systems are a network of social and human services that can not be an afterthought in this growing and dynamic environment that we will find ourselves.  There is much that can be done in the area of prevention in areas of human services that will in the end save taxpayers money and provide for healthy contributing citizens.  We are not immune to the opioid epidemic nor are we immune to high rates of suicide that are plaguing communities. The 2017 Youth Assessment conducted every two years at grades 8, 10, 12 measures how many teens are engaged in risky and beneficial behaviors. 4,376 students representing 11 school districts throughout Ottawa County. Consider 500 teens reported that they have been trafficked for sex or work, yes here in Ottawa County! 28.9% indicated that they were depressed with19.4% indicating that they seriously thought about suicide. In the area of depression and suicide there has been a steady increase since 2009. Cases of child sexual abuse are up 46% at the Children’s Advocacy Center. We must not pit land against water against our most precious resource our children and families.

What qualifications/experiences set you apart from your opponents?

• 35 years experience in county government as a employee & department-administrator, working in Kent and Ottawa counties.

• Proven experience in community engagement in developing services with stakeholders in juvenile justice, early childhood & workforce development.

• Founder of a non-profit ready for school

• W.K. Kellogg Foundation Fellow

• Past Chair Ottawa County, Human Services Coordinating Council

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