EquityPAC, a political organization working to increase the number of equitable officials, policies, and practices in West Michigan, proudly announced their endorsement of both Tami VandenBerg and Joe Jones for the upcoming Grand Rapids City Commission election in the Second Ward. Though the two are running for one spot, there was a consensus that either candidate would advance an equity-focused agenda if they won.
“This is the kind of election we want to see in the city of Grand Rapids,” said EquityPAC Co-Chair Kelsey Perdue. “Both of these candidates brought a valued perspective on how to lift up women, people of color, the LGBT community, the working poor and new Americans.”
Jones is the incumbent city commissioner, appointed to fill the remainder of Mayor Rosalynn Bliss’ term representing Ward 2, and currently serves as the president and chief executive officer of the Grand Rapids Urban League. He brings valuable experience supporting more equitable racialized outcomes when it comes to housing, employment and police relations.
VandenBerg is a small-businesses owner and the executive director of Well House, a nonprofit that rehabs existing homes to convert them into affordable housing communities. She has led on issues ranging from housing, criminal justice reform, LGBT inclusion and gender equity.
EquityPAC has a multi-step endorsement process. Candidates initially respond to a questionnaire that focuses on key issue areas related to equity and that matter to the organization’s membership. Those whose responses are considered strong on equity by the board of directors are brought to the full membership for a public dialogue. The board bases their final decision to endorse a candidate based on their responses to key issues, the membership’s feedback, and other items related to their candidacy.
The board anticipated endorsing one candidate in each of the two wards holding elections in the upcoming August primary. After reviewing their responses to the questionnaire, the membership meeting, and feedback from members, the board decided to, in the interest of EquityPAC’s mission, to endorse both candidates and encourage members to support either campaign. Mike Farrage did not respond to the questionnaire and was not considered.
“Last November, every ward in the city of Grand Rapids expressed that they did not want political leadership that wants to put up more barriers - physical, legal, or cultural - to achieving a fair and just society. Less than a year later, we have two community leaders running for office to break those very barriers,” continued Perdue. “These are, with a doubt, the kinds of elections we want in Grand Rapids. We encourage our members and the entire Grand Rapids community to get involved in this election.”
About EquityPAC: EquityPAC formed in March of 2016 as an independent political action committee under the Michigan Campaign Finance Act (PA 388 of 1976). Their mission is to advance the number of equity-minded officials, policies, and practices in Michigan. EquityPAC leverages both time and money to support candidates. Learn more at www.equitypacmi.com.