Local politics is more important than ever for equity issues, and this Tuesday’s Equity PAC endorsement meeting is an excellent cross section of candidates and millages on November's ballot that will impact our region. This meeting is open to the public; however, you need to be an Equity PAC member to vote and submit input that will be used by the board to consider endorsements.
RSVP here for Tuesday’s Endorsement Meeting
What: Equity PAC Endorsement Meeting
When: this Tuesday, August 29th from 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Where: Tacqueria El Rincon, 2055 28th St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49508
Who: Open to the public, with topics especially relevant to those living in East Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids, Grandville, Kentwood, Walker, and Wyoming.
Here are 5 reasons why you need to be at this endorsement meeting:
- Wyoming and surrounding areas are becoming increasingly diverse, and we need to ensure equity is on the agenda. The demographics of the City of Wyoming, the third largest city in West Michigan, have changed drastically from the 2000 census to the 2010 census. The number of majority white residents decreased in representation from 84% to 76% of the population, and the Latinx population grew from about 10% in 2000 to 19% in 2010. At the same time, Wyoming residents failed to vote for the last two school millage proposals, though it did approve a sinking fund in 2015. The new bond proposal being discussed Tuesday would support critical, long overdue school renovations.
Kentwood is recognized as one of the most diverse communities in Michigan, yet its city government has nearly no diversity. The City Commission and the police department reportedly have only one black person in their ranks. When Equity PAC requested city employee demographic information, the Human Resources Director indicated that they would need to charge us to obtain that information to cover the costs of the Freedom of Information Act request. We will submit the request and pay, but the fact that this information is not readily available is a clear sign that workforce diversity is not a measure that is incorporated into managerial decision making. Emily Bridson is running for Kentwood City Commissioner. She has been vocal about the lack of diversity in the City of Kentwood, and will be present Tuesday to talk about her candidacy. We want to hear more on how her election could spark real change in how the city is run, changing its direction to focusing on increasing diversity and being more representative of its residents.
Public transportation as a priority for metro Grand Rapids will surface this November. The renewal of the Rapid millage is up for vote and the citizens of East Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids, Grandville, Kentwood, Walker and Wyoming will cast their ballots on November 7. The Rose Fellows recently deemed much of the Rapid bus service a “social service” rather than a reliable transportation system due to its long wait times. To move the Rapid into a new chapter with more modern service, shorter wait times and more equitable outcomes, it will need strong funding and fresh leadership - which a millage renewal and new CEO could very well provide. Hear more and ask questions about this proposal on Tuesday.
Libraries have an opportunity to address racialized outcomes and support LGBTQ public education. Media and literacy have rapidly changed over the past 15 years, and the role of libraries in our technologically dominant age is in question across the nation. The Grand Rapids Public Library is asking the public to renew the library millage to go toward “…growing reading readiness in children 0-5, increasing the library’s digital collections — both download and streaming services — and maintaining our facilities for future generations,” said Grand Rapids Public Library Director Marcia Warner in a memo to city commissioners. Furthermore, Rachel Anderson, incumbent Library Commission Trustee, is requesting an Equity PAC endorsement. Tuesday is an excellent opportunity to ask important questions on how the Grand Rapids Public Library plans to advance equity in a rapidly changing environment.
- Grand Rapids Public Schools is asking for a non-homestead millage renewal for $27 million in operating cash. In a school district that is often lacking resources, this is a vital source of revenue to advance teaching and education in the Grand Rapids core. At the same time, a millage on non-homeowner occupied properties that puts the tax burden on renters deserves important scrutiny. Renters in Grand Rapids have already experienced drastic increases in rent over the past 4 years while homeowners have experienced increased housing values over that same period. This is a vitally important millage, yet the facts around who would actually pay for it should it be renewed requires a deeper dive.