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The Funding Behind the Transit Millage campaign

November 14, 2017

It has been a week since election day, which saw the local Transit Millage get passed in Kent County with 61.4% of the vote.

The Transit Millage, as many are aware of, was a contentious issue this year, primarily because of the fact that The Rapid drivers and mechanics had been working without a contract for the past 2 years. Some members of the union and allies were asking people to not support the Transit Millage until a contract could be negotiated.

The purpose of this post is to merely look at the campaign finance documents from the Transit Millage, both those who funded to oppose the millage and those who provided funds to support.

The Opposition: Kent Transit in Action

The group Kent Transit in Action is listed as the organization that was formally opposing the Transit Millage, according to the Kent County Clerk campaign finance documents. They received $10,586.03 in contributions, but only spent $1,675.49. There were only 3 sourced contributions:

Kent County Taxpayers Alliance contributed $5,000 twice – $10,000

Kent Education Action contributed $586.03

They only spent $1,675.49, all of which went to a group known as Right Strategies LLC, located at 2155 Wealthy St SE Suite 166, East Grand Rapids, MI 49506. Right Strategies LLC spent the money on a mailer and a phone poll.

Both of these organizations listed above as contributors have the same address of 6757 Cascade Rd PO Box 115, Grand Rapids, MI 49546.

Some of the members of the bus driver’s union and allies also organized to oppose the Transit Millage, yet there is no evidence of any funds they might have raised or expenses incurred.

Proponents of the Transit Millage: Friends of Transit

The Friends of Transit raised a total of $22,907, according to the Kent County Clerk campaign finance documents. There were numerous contributions, which are listed here, with name, status and amount contributed.

  • George Heartwell Retired $100
  • Jack & Rebecca Smith Hoffman Attorney $500
  • Rev. Charles & Sara Homeyer Retired $100
  • Rachel Hood $50
  • Christman Company Business $1,000
  • Robert Roth Business owner $257
  • Jeff Cranson State employee $103
  • Mark Przybysz Catholic Priest $257
  • George Lott III Architect $103
  • Stephen Draft-Peppin $52
  • LACKS Business $2,000
  • Birgit Klohs $50
  • Phil Skaggs Legislative Director $100
  • Paul Troost $50
  • Adelyn VanTol Community Organizer $100
  • Peter Varga CEO The Rapid $250
  • Hoestra Transportation Business $500
  • Equity PAC $2,000
  • Eric Delong Assistant City Manager $150
  • Rosalynn Bliss $50
  • Rick Treur $52
  • Elissa Grumley Gud Marketing $200
  • Johnny Brann Jr Business Owner $100
  • Bradley Thomas Engineer Progressive AE $1,500
  • Debbie Horak Gud Marketing $200
  • Mayor Mark Huizenga $150
  • John Hunting Retired $1,000
  • Win & Kyle Irwin Irwin Seating $200
  • Mike & Meegan Joyce The Rapid $100
  • Gordie & Jan Moeller Retired $100
  • Brittany Schlacter The Rapid $50
  • Terry Schweitzer $50
  • Gary Cary Jr City Commissioner $100
  • Maxwell Dillivan Planner $50
  • Patricia Draper $25
  • Bill & Kay Farr Retired $250
  • Conrad Venema $50
  • Kate Pew Wolters Self-Employed $500
  • Association for the Visually Impaired $250
  • Mark Huizenga Systems Consulting $150
  • St. Anthony Catholic Church $515
  • Barbra Holt Retired $153
  • Joshua Leffingwell $5
  • David Bulkowski ED/Disability Advocates $9,520

Most of the expenses were for mailers, mailer design and postage.

It should be noted however, that of the 44 separate contributions, 8 came from members of The Rapid Board of Directors for a total of $10,573. There were also 3 staff from The Rapid, which contributed a combined total of $400. The largest contributions came from political action committees or businesses, which contributed between $500 and $2,000.

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