Before I begin my analysis of the upcoming municipal election, I must remind the readers that I am mayoral candidate Jim Rinck’s campaign manager. I believe in full disclosure and do not wish to mislead the readers. I will try to remain objective in my analysis of the candidates and will provide notice when my bias rears its ugly head.
One often overlooked fact regarding municipal elections is that believe it or not, these are non-partisan positions and it is a non-partisan election. While the candidates do not declare their political party, nor receive funds from political parties; their personal ideologies may still be a factor to some voters. Perhaps the only relief is the lack of party support which most often gets in the way of campaigns.
CITY COMMISSION RACE
In the First Ward, the real race is between Walt Gutowski and Ed Kettle. I do not believe that I have seen much support out there for Postmus. Perhaps his previous bid for Drain Commissioner has left the voters disillusioned with the aspect that he appears desperate to live on the public dole. He apparently misses the good old days when he served on the County Commission. He ran for Drain Commissioner as an unqualified candidate who just wanted another high paying and powerful county-level job. Now he is vying for a seat on the City Commission. The voters don’t seem to be buying it. Gutowski has the funds and as owner of SWIFT Printing he has the first four color process political signs I have ever seen. Must be nice. Ed Kettle is kind of a crazy person who likes to write manifestos. I am glad that I do not live in the First Ward. If I had to vote for one over the other, I would probably vote Gutowski; only because he is a successful business owner and he doesn’t write crazy manifestos.
In the Second Ward, the race will be interesting. The contentious part of the race is clearly on the left side of the race. The Second Ward has a majority of Democratic voters and left-leaning Ruth Kelly and David LaGrand will be splitting the loyalty of Democratic voters. While LaGrand is a Democrat, Ruth Kelly is a sort-of a Democrat. She champions her INDEPENDENT (Progressive) status, which only means that she is not a dues-paying member of a political party. However, her campaign is being driven by the Progressive Women’s Alliance which is a very left leaning organization. The division amongst the Dems (or Progressives) could mean that Dan Koorndyk could slip in if he is supported by the Republicans in the Ward. Michael Booker is not having much of an impact in the 2nd Ward race but I really like him. He is young, bright, and has potential in the future. I hope to see more from Booker in two years.
There are no Challengers to Elias Lumpkins in the Third Ward, so I predict that Lumpkins will win.
GRAND RAPIDS MAYORAL RACE
Now the moment that you have all been waiting for… GR Mayor.
I don’t see Jackie Miller going very far; but I applaud the fact that she put herself out there. I am an idealist who longs for a day when someone who is fed up with the politics of politics, can get elected to speak for the average people in the city. I believe that this is what motivated Miller to run in the first place. She has shown a lot of guts during the debates. I only wish that she had done some research to understand the issues better.
(WARNING – THIS PORTION WILL CONTAIN MY PERSONAL BIAS)
Before the campaign began, I considered Rick Tormala to be a great colleague. He consulted on LaGrand’s Senate bid while I was running Abbasse’s Senate race in the neighboring district. I got to know and like Rick. I had a quick heart to heart with him when he announced his candidacy and I promised him that I would not bring-up his financial difficulties, so I won’t. Local media outlets have already thoroughly covered this issue, so I won’t speak to them. However, Rick made a comment on WOOD Radio’s Rick & Scott show on 7/31 that I will speak to. He said, “If you want the best surgeon, you don’t run a credit report on him first”. Well he is right, I wouldn’t run a credit report on my surgeon. But Rick is not a surgeon. He is asking the voters to trust in him as an elected official. If I am to trust someone with my financial stability, I would run a credit report on them. To think that he is immune from public scrutiny as a public official is ludicrous. He couldn’t file his Campaign Finance Statement on time like the rest of the campaigns, and he is his own Campaign Treasurer. This is what he offers the people, Irresponsible, sloppy, lazy, and unprofessional behavior. Apparently the rules do not apply to him.
I truly like George Heartwell. I think that he is a caring, kind, and intelligent man. Unfortunately, many will agree that he has not been the best mayor. He has veiled himself in secrecy, colluded with the GR power brokers at the expense of the citizens, pledged to spend city resources to win an unwinnable legal battle, lied to constituents, and the list goes on. I believe that he will help the city of Grand Rapids more from the pulpit of his church than as the mayor of our fine city. Having gone through Heartwell’s Campaign Finance statements, (which looks like the PWA membership list) most of his donors live outside of the city and cannot vote for him. I’m sure that it is nice to receive the funds, but personally I would rather have the votes.
Unlike Tormala and Heartwell who I consider equally responsible for the city’s woes, Jim Rinck is a breath of fresh air. He is not interested in politics as usual; he is not going to be satisfied with the status quo. He has demonstrated unwavering leadership in his 14 year tenure on the Board of Education for a laughable $200 per month stipend. Rinck has hardly been a career politician; he is more of a public servant. In order for me to work for a campaign, I must really trust and respect my candidate. Rinck is a successful attorney with his own practice in Grand Rapids, he knows and understands the issues and already has well thought plans to correct many of the city’s problems. People seem to underestimate Jim Rinck.
(BIAS ALERT ENDED, NOW BACK TO YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED OBJECTIVEISM)
Mayoral analysis – I think that a combination of GRCC millage, contentious races in the 1st and 2nd Wards and the hotly contested mayoral race may bring a near record 27% of registered voters to the polls for this municipal Primary election. (My prediction anyway) There are large pockets of support for each of the three top candidates, no matter how you slice it, this election could be split in nearly thirds- It will be close. Tormala’s support is mostly concentrated in portions of the 2nd Ward, his downfall will be the 1st and 3rd Wards where he is not known nearly as well as he is in the 2nd. Rinck has been a city-wide elected official for 14 consecutive years and is well known equally in all three Wards. This should play to his advantage. Even though support for Heartwell has dwindled nearly as quickly as Pres. Bush’s support; he is still the incumbent and will have the incumbent’s advantage.
In the end, I think that the Primary election will result in a run-off between Heartwell and Rinck. Time will tell!
Submitted By Guest Writer,