KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The 52nd Kalamazoo City Commission met for the first time Monday night as the winners of last week’s election took the oath of office.
Commissioners Erin Knott and Jack Urban were re-elected to four-year terms. Also elected was Eric Cunningham, who rejoins the commission after losing a re-election bid in 2015. As the top vote-getter, Knott will serve as vice mayor for the next two years.
Mayor Bobby Hopewell was sworn in for his sixth consecutive term, a record in Kalamazoo.
This marks the first time Kalamazoo has seen three African-Americans — Hopewell, Cunningham and Commissioner Shannon Sykes — on the dais.
“You always need diversity,” Cunningham said. “That’s business 101. When you want to grow, you have diverse opinions, ones that will challenge each other. But as I stated before on the dais … your heart has to be big enough to bridge any gap. And there will be times when we don’t agree with one another, but we have to be passionate about moving forward and working well together.
“I say it over and over and I mean it every time I say it: We are a masterpiece in progress and all of us, all of you, are part of those amazing painters and knitters that are designing this masterpiece that will never be done,” Hopewell said. “…We’re a representative democracy and we’re hoping overall that we represent the beliefs, the values, the hopes, and aspirations you have for Kalamazoo.”
The commission also said goodbye to Commissioner Matt Milcarek, who served a two-year term after being elected in 2015 and chose not to run again.
“My time on the dais may be done, but my work in the community will go on,” Milcarek promised.