• Wed. Nov 30th, 2022

DeVos family, business establishment investing a lot of money in Grand Rapids City Commission races

ByStephanie M. Akbar

Nov 3, 2022


GRAND RAPIDS, MI — One of West Michigan’s wealthiest families and the backbone of conservative politicians has provided financial support for two Grand Rapids city commissioner candidates, one of whom is seeking to unseat a holder.

Financial contributions from more than half a dozen DeVos family members are the maximum they can give individually and total $8,400 to First Ward candidate Drew Robbins and an additional $8,400 to Third Ward candidate Drew Robbins. Reverend Kenneth Hoskins.

But these campaign contributions from the powerful West Michigan family — whose late patriarch, Rich DeVos, co-founded Amway — are not in a vacuum.

Pre-election financial contribution statements filed late last week show Robbins and Hoskins’ campaigns also received unusual and large donations from the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce’s Political Action Committee, and they exceed their opponents for large, one-time donations, with many of those coming from Grand Rapids-area business executives.

The filings paint a picture of the Grand Rapids-area business establishment striving to unseat First Ward Commissioner Kurt Reppart and defeat Third Ward candidate Kelsey Perdue, who is trailing his opponents in terms of overall money received but who tops the number of individual donors.

The total amount of campaign contributions in the three ward races this election is pushing more than $210,000. The amount of money in the first and third quarter races dwarfs that of the second quarter race, where incumbent commissioner Joe Jones takes on challenger Lisa Knight.

All City Commission races are non-partisan. Municipal races are part of the November 8 elections.

Third quarter

With term-limited Third Ward Commissioner Senita Lenear unable to seek re-election, Hoskins and Perdue are vying for the seat that represents much of the city’s southeast side and is home to the majority of the city’s black population. . The service has always been underfunded by public and private investment.

Whoever wins will represent the ward alongside Commissioner Nathaniel Moody, who is up for re-election in 2024.

So far, Hoskins — a former president of the Grand Rapids Public Schools Board — has raised $53,380 and spent $18,927.50. His campaign raised a total of 122 individual donations.

Perdue, a community advocate, raised $42,711.95 and spent $31,397.51.

And while Perdue trails Hoskins in dollars raised, she has courted double her number of donors, with 244 individual donations to her campaign to Hoskins’ 122.

Hoskins received 26 donations equal to or greater than $1,000. Perdue received six donations equal to or greater than this amount.

The average individual contribution to Perdue’s campaign is about $175. The average individual donation to Hoskins’ campaign is about $437.

The maximum an individual can contribute is $1,050. The maximum a political action committee can donate is $10,500.

The Grand Rapids Chambers Political Action Committee awarded Hoskins that maximum amount, more than double what the PAC spent on all City Commission races in 2017 and 2019 combined.

Some of the other big dollar donations outside of the DeVos family came from Dan Hibma, a prominent Republican donor; his wife, former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land; Mark Murray, Vice Chairman of the Board of Meijer; Mike Jandernoa, former CEO and board member of Perrigo; Mark Meijer, CEO of Life EMS; Rick Baker, CEO of Grand Rapids Chamber; restaurant owner and police attorney Johnny Brann, Sr.; Dan Meyering, CEO of Trillium Ventures; Sam Cummings, Managing Partner of CWD Real Estate Investment, and more.

The Grand Rapids Firefighters Union also donated $2,000 to the campaign.

Hoskins, the senior pastor of Alpha Omega Ministries and executive director of Oakdale Neighbors, a Christian community development organization, characterized his financial support as bipartisan community support.

He said some of the big donors who have volunteered for him are those who know and trust him through his work at Oakdale Neighbors. Hoskins said someone recently asked him about some of the names popping up.

“I was telling them, I was like, ‘You know, it’s funny how…some organizations can get funding from some of the ones you’re talking about in terms of foundations and donations to their organization to further their mission. “, Hoskins said, “‘But then when I get something from those same people to further the mission…to further the ministry of serving the individuals that I do in the community, then there’s a negative connotation to that. .’ It doesn’t make sense to me.

Perdue, who is director of community programs and innovation at Spectrum Health’s Healthier Communities, said financial support for her campaign comes from a diverse base of businesses, faith and community leaders as well as residents.

“I’m so proud of how we got both financial support and grassroots support for my campaign,” she said. “I would describe my financial support as diverse, as broad as coming from family, friends and friends of friends, or people I have worked with in the community and/or interviewed and that I know my reputation and the work that I have done and the work that I am going to do.

Perdue said the sources of campaign contributions are important, and that’s something people should pay attention to, but that she hopes whoever gets elected sticks to their campaign promises and works for them. improve the city, and in particular the third district.

“I focus on the Third Ward, I focus on the city,” she said. “I’m really happy to have the support of various stakeholders who are actively and currently involved in the issues we face and how do we find solutions to big problems and small problems.”

First room

The battle for the city’s first ward has already seen a black money group buy tens of thousands of dollars worth of radio and television ads against Reppart and erect billboards that, among other things, tally up the city ​​homicides this year and last.

A Grand Rapids House lobbyist, Joshua Lunger, helped the group, MLive/The Grand Rapids Press found and reported earlier.

Related: A Grand Rapids House lobbyist helped a black money group paint a grim portrait of the city

Robbins, a human resources information systems analyst at Gordon Food Service, hires Reppart, who is seeking a second term on the governing body to represent the city’s first ward, which is generally defined by the west side and the southwest of the city.

The challenger has raised more than double what the holder has so far, with Robbins raking in $59,620 to Reppart’s $26,260.30. Robbins’ campaign spending is also more than double that of Reppart at $46,918.93 spent for $20,627.08.

Like Perdue, Reppart trails his opponent in total dollars raised for his campaign but leads Robbins in the number of donors, with 147 individual donations to Reppart’s campaign and 105 to Robbins.

The average individual donation to Reppart’s campaign is about $179. The average individual donation to Robbins’ campaign is about $568. Robbins had 30 campaign contributions equal to or greater than $1,000, and Reppart had six.

The largest donations to Robbins’ campaign were $10,500 from the Grand Rapids House PAC and $10,000 from the Grand Rapids Police Officers Association, which did not donate to any other presidential candidates. city ​​commission this year.

A number of Robbins’ top campaign contributors have also donated to Hoskins’ campaign, including Baker, Jandernoa, the DeVos, Land and Hibma, Meijer, Murray, Meyering, Cummings, Brann and more.

Robbins attributed the support, including that of the DeVos family and the police union, to people interested in a different approach to Reppart’s on issues such as public safety and crime. He said his campaign contributions showed diverse support and included both conservatives and liberals.

“I’m really proud of our team and the support we’ve had over the past few months,” Robbins said, “and I really think it’s such a strong testament to the direction and state of our city. right now and how people want to do everything they can to make sure we go back in a positive direction once again.

Reppart also said he taps into a diverse base of financial support, from neighborhood businesses and residents to industry leaders.

“When I map the support I received in my campaign, the thing I’m most proud of is the diversity of support,” he said. “I have a lot of support from small business leaders, support from industry experts – people in the housing sector, people who work with the homeless, people who work with the lead remediation in the community.

“These are smaller donations. These are people who know me. These are people I have worked with for the past five years.

Reppart said the people who support him do so because they believe in the work he has done on the city commission over the past five years and what he aspires to accomplish if re-elected.

“The concentration of big donors that my opponent has, they don’t necessarily live in the first quarter,” he said. “They’re doing business in the first quarter, but it’s a small group of largely wealthy and influential people who kind of went all-in against my opponent, against a very broad coalition that backed me.”

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