GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After Grand Rapids’ Third Ward commissioner resigned, the city says seven applicants are being considered to fill his spot.
The Grand Rapids City Commission on Tuesday approved seven applicants to move forward in the appointment process, according to a news release.
Catherine Conklin is a realtor who lists child care, safety, health services and police and community relations as some issues facing the city. “I am no stranger to hard work and will roll up my sleeves, get down in the trenches, and work to find solutions,” she wrote in her application.
Bing Goei, CEO of Eastern Floral, has lived in Grand Rapids for 64 years, according to his application. Some of his goals include reducing poverty, attracting and retaining talent and strengthening small businesses.
Reginald Howard is a peer support specialist, an 11-year veteran of the U.S. Navy and the founder of Hero’s Corner Grand Rapids. “I have worked with a diverse population since my days in the Navy and will be able to do the same as the Commissioner,” he wrote in his application.
West Michigan Environmental Action Council Director of Engagement Marshall Kilgore says in his mind, being a commissioner means being a public servant. According to his application, he sees affordable, accessible housing, equal public and private investment and environmental sustainability as major issues facing the Third Ward.
John Krajewski, public school administrator for Hopkins Public Schools, has decades of experience in public education and law enforcement, according to his application. “In the National Community Service (NCS) conducted in 2022, the residents of the Third Ward rate numerous measures of quality of life lower than the residents of First and Second Wards,” he wrote. “It is important that we work to make improvements and close this gap.”
Barbara Snell is a healthcare paraprofessional for Godfrey-Lee Public Schools who has lived in the city for 67 years. It is essential to listen to community members when they have concerns, she wrote in her application.
Finally, Al Willis, a contractor, lists housing, outdated infrastructure, teachers’ wages, the transportation network and a lack of connection to the whole community as some issues facing the Third Ward. “My commitment is to spend the first 90 days at minimum in the community on a daily basis, knocking doors, and listening,” he wrote. “We have the solutions we need in this community because the solutions are the community.”
The city says the Committee on Appointments will interview all seven candidates at a special Feb. 20 meeting. Each will have 25 minutes to introduce themselves and answer questions.
Then, the Committee on Appointments will recommend three top candidates to the wider commission, according to the release. The Grand Rapids City Commission will interview these three in public session March 5. The city says the commission may make a final decision that afternoon.
Public comment will be welcome at both meetings, according to the release.
Applications for the position were due Feb. 1. Nathaniel Moody, the former Third Ward Commissioner, stepped down in December.
You can read more about each applicant at grandrapidsmi.gov/vacancy.