Candidates for GR mayor, city commission

Left to right: Grand Rapids mayoral candidates Rosalynn Bliss, Robert Dean, John George and Willard Lee.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The deadline to file as a candidate for Grand Rapids mayor or city commission has come and gone.

As of the 4 p.m. Tuesday deadline, four people had filed to run for mayor: Grand Rapids Second Ward City Commissioner Rosalynn Bliss, 39; John George, 64; Willard Lee, 25; and Rev. Robert Dean, 61.

One of them will take over for Mayor George Heartwell. Mayor since 2004 and now in his third term, Heartwell is being forced out following voters’ passage of a two-term limit last year.

In the First Ward, Commissioner Walt Gutowski is being forced out due to term limits. Only one person has filed to take his place: Jon O’Connor, 34, who served on the Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Education from 2010 to 2014.

In the Second Ward, Commissioner Ruth Kelly, 62, is running for reelection.

In the Third Ward, where Commissioner Elias Lumpkins will not run again because of term limits, former GRPS Board of Education member David Allen, 52, and 44-year-old Bryan Blakely are running for the open seat.

Left to right; David Allen, Bryan Blakely, Ruth Kelly and Jon O'Connor.
(Left to right; David Allen, Bryan Blakely, Ruth Kelly and Jon O’Connor.)

The terms of First Ward Commissioner Dave Shaffer and Third Ward Commissioner Senita Lenear aren’t up until the end of December 2017.

Bliss’s current term as a commissioner also doesn’t end until Dec. 31, 2017. If she becomes mayor, the city commission will appoint someone to fill her vacant seat.

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