On Monday, June 26th at 6pm, Equity PAC members and the public will convene at Public Thread (906 South Division Ave) to hear from Grand Rapids’ 1st Ward candidates Christine Mullan and Kurt Reppart, and 2nd Ward candidates Joe Jones and Tami VandenBerg.
The Equity PAC leadership is excited to host these candidates. In our review, each of them represent the kind of people we hope will run in future elections in West Michigan. They fight for just and fair inclusion for all people. They each have a visible, demonstrated history of working toward a community where all people can participate. We believe each would uphold Equity PAC core values such as economic justice, elimination of racial profiling, advancing LGBTQ rights and using a feminist lens to examine policy.
The mission of Equity PAC has always been to advance more equity-minded candidates, policy and practice. We have no allegiance to a party or to a specific party platform. Our endorsement process is firmly about increasing engagement with equity-minded candidates to advance equity through the electoral process. In other words, who will be able to advance real police reform, not just more officers or police technology? Who has a plan for how to create more affordable housing? Who will ensure protections for undocumented citizens are upheld? Who will hold public entities accountable for diversifying their workforce? And do they have solid strategies for how they will execute on their beliefs?
These races are sometimes filled with tension because the stakes are high, personal and very public. But these are the races our region needs if we are going to grow deliberately and inclusively.
We need smart, equity-minded people that are willing to challenge each other and the community to do things differently than we always have done, in order to get different results. The future of our region depends on equity and solution-oriented policy.
This will be Equity PAC’s first pre-primary endorsement. On Monday, Equity PAC board member Chadd Dowding will facilitate Q&A with each candidate individually for 30 minutes before the membership and the public. This will be an opportunity for the membership to familiarize themselves with each candidate and ask key questions about their ability to advance more equitable policy and practice in Grand Rapids. The Equity PAC leadership encourages questions about approaches to our key areas – affordable housing, immigration justice, police reform and diversification of government. We will also encourage candidate articulation of approaches to other key areas such as LGBTQ rights, reproductive choice, and civic participation in decision making.
Following the in-person interview on Monday, an electronic ‘Endorsement Survey’ will be sent to members for their feedback and input on endorsement. In order for your survey to be considered, you will have had to renew your membership since November 8, 2016, and prior to the start of the meeting on June 26th, 2017. We encourage you to renew now before the meeting. The survey will close on Wednesday at 5pm.
While we recognize the viability of all four candidates to be equity-oriented if elected, we also acknowledge there are only two seats available. Therefore, we anticipate an approach that will endorse only one candidate from each primary.
The Equity PAC board will use the input from the membership endorsement surveys, analysis of each candidate’s understanding of the issues from their endorsement application and other candidacy related materials, history of impact in the community, and the candidates’ ideas for how they will make impact once in office. We will issue our endorsements after the July 4th holiday.
We look forward to Monday’s engagement between each candidate and the membership. This is an opportunity for all of us to ask deep questions of some of the brightest and accomplished equity-leaders in our community. We hope you will ask questions, vote, and activate your support around those candidates we endorse to support the bigger fight against the powerfully inequitable.