Aug. 8 election: No disincorporation; GR commission


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Voters in Spring Lake stopped an effort to disincorporate the village in its tracks in Tuesday’s election.

The Spring Lake village manager told 24 Hour News 8 that 556 voters — 63 percent — said no to the disincorporation measure on the ballot, while 325 said yes.

>>Inside woodtv.com: Latest election results

The proposal would have allowed the village to start collecting signatures to get disincorporation on the November ballot.

“I voted for it. … I’ve lived both in the Township of Spring Lake and I’ve lived in the Village of Spring Lake and it seems like it’s a duplication of effort, so I voted to have the option to disincorporate,” resident Kris Layson explained. “I’m told that some services will go away. I know that at one time we had a village police force — that’s Ottawa County now. So I guess I honestly don’t know what the benefit is.”

“I’ve lived here many, many years and I like all the benefits that we have as a village, like trash pickup and leaf pickup and all the things that they do,” voter Vicki Bailey said, noting that while she may pay lower taxes under disincorporation, she would be billed to get the services she wants.

Village President Joyce Verplank-Hatton, who ran and won last year on a platform of disincorporation, said she would resign Wednesday regardless of the outcome of the vote.

“Because I have the entire bureaucracy on the other side,” she explained her resignation to 24 Hour News 8 before results came in.

Mark Powers, the village president pro tem, said that after the city council receives Verplank-Hatton’s resignation letter, he will assume her duties.

“We’ll probably then get back to the serious business of maintaining our sewers and streets and keeping the quality of life that we’ve become accustomed to in Spring Lake,” he said.

–24 Hour News 8’s Sarah Hurwitz contributed to this report.

GRAND RAPIDS CITY COMMISSION

In Grand Rapids, 2nd Ward City Commissioner Joe Jones beat two challengers — business owner Tami VandenBerg and activist Michael Farage — to win re-election with 51 percent of the vote.

In the 1st Ward, West Side pastor Kurt Reppart won the open seat with about 52 percent of the vote, beating former city attorney Catherine Mish and social worker Christine Mullan. Reppart will take over for Commissioner Dave Shaffer, who could not seek re-election due to term limits.

Kurt Reppart, Grand Rapids City Commission, 1st Ward
Kurt Reppart after being elected to represent the 1st Ward on the Grand Rapids City Commission. (Aug. 8, 2017)

In Grand Rapids primaries with three or more people running, candidates can win outright and avoid a November runoff election if they take more than 50 percent of the vote — which is what happened for both Jones and Reppart.

When asked what made the difference for his team, Reppart replied, “I think we had a great strategy.”

“We worked real hard. We got out early and started working and we got to a lot of households and talked to a lot of people,” he continued. “I think that’s the thing that won it for us.”

Grand Rapids City Commission, 2nd Ward, Joe Jones
Grand Rapids 2nd Ward Commissioner Joe Jones after being re-elected on Aug. 8, 2017.

“It’s a labor of love, and I explained that when I was going door to door, just explained to folks, ‘This is why I’m doing it,'” Jones said. “And I think that that, coupled with the fact that I had tremendous support just across the spectrum, whether it was my colleagues on the commission to former commissioners to community leaders to everyday folks.”

Both Jones and Reppart are pledging to work on increasing the availability of affordable housing and improving relations between police and the community.

Their terms begin at the start of 2018.

–24 Hour News 8’s Joe LaFurgey contributed to this report.

OTHER RACES

In Holland, Raul Garcia received 69 percent of the vote in to unseat 3rd Ward City Councilman Brian Burch, who finished second. Tim Marroquin finished third in the three-way race.

An incumbent also lost in Ferrysburg. There, Mayor Dan Ruiter finished third in a three-way primary. Just a handful of votes separated Rebecca Hopp and Regina Sjoberg, who will move to the November general election to replace Ruiter.

NEW ELECTION EQUIPMENT

Tuesday’s election was the first outing for new voting equipment in several counties, including Muskegon and Ottawa.

In Muskegon, election officials realized in the afternoon that some of the new machines had a calibration problem and would have to be swapped out. Low voter turnout was limiting the impact of the problem.

The good news was that the machines appear to have led to faster results: Both Muskegon and Ottawa counties had 100 percent of precincts reporting before 8:30 p.m., in part because the new technology. The machines use a secure cellular modem to send results to the county clerk’s office, cutting several steps out of the reporting process.

Thirty-eight other counties across the state will roll out new machines for the November election. The technology is slightly different, but voters shouldn’t notice any dramatic changes in the process.