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Money, issues and the Grand Rapids 2nd Ward Commission race

August 5, 2019

Tomorrow, people in the 2nd Ward of Grand Rapids will have a chance to vote for one of the three candidates running for a City Commission seat.

The City Commission seat is a 4 year term and it is for a seat that Ruth Kelly is vacating.

The three people running are Michael Farage, Wendy Falb and Milinda Ysasi. The only one of the three that has previously held an elected office is Wendy Falb, who served on the Board of the Grand Rapids Public Schools.

Michael Farage, who has run for office on numerous occasions, only has a Facebook page for his candidacy. Farage, who is an anti-tax person, with conservative views on the function of local government, has been a vocal supporter of the Grand Rapids police department in recent months, despite the substantial criticism coming from the Black and Latinx communities over police violence. Farage boasts on his Facebook page over the endorsement from Nigel Farage, the UK leader of the Brexit Party. Nigel Farage has been a very vocal supporter of Donald Trumps presidency. 

There is little information on what Michael Farage’s position are on critical issues for Grand Rapids, but you can look at his Facebook page to see what some of his views are.

Wendy Falb has both a Facebook page and her own website, which lists the traditional endorsements, ways to donate and volunteer. There is a tab with the heading issues, but the three items she identifies are vague and do not speak to specifics in terms of what a City Commissioner will vote on.

Milinda Ysasi also has a Facebook page and a separate website for her candidacy. Ysasi’s website has a “vision” section, which identifies a few issues relevant to the City Commission, but the commentary is brief and somewhat vague.

Follow the Money

It is always instructive to see who contributes to candidates and this race one can make some determinations about where allegiances are.

Michael Farage raised $6,600 and has spent most of it, according to the Kent County Clerk’s Office Farage did not have many contributors, but most of them contributed a substantial amount.

  • Michael Farage $1,000
  • Emilie Farage $1,000
  • George Gordon $1,050
  • Barbara Gordon $1,050
  • Marge Potter $1,000
  • Johnny Brann $500
  • Joe Carpenter $500

Wendy Falb has raised $37,390 and spent $26,739, according to the Kent County Clerk’s Office. Falb has received contributions from several political entities, such as:

  • Grand Rapids Police Officer’s Union PAC $5,000
  • Grand Rapids Fire Fighter’s Union PAC $3,000
  • Realtor’s PAC of Michigan $1,000
  • Rental Property Owner’s Association PAC $500

Some of the larger individual contributors for Falb are:

  • Steve Peska $1,500
  • Rebecca Smith Hoffman $1,500
  • David Edwards $1,200
  • Elizabeth Welch $1,000
  • Kate Pew Walters $1,000
  • Peter Secchia $1,000
  • John Brann Jr. $1,000
  • Bob Goodrich $700
  • Sam Cummings $500
  • Scott Bowen $500
  • Mary Ann Keeler $500

As one can see from the list of contributors to Falb, she has received financial support from some members of the Grand Rapids Power Structure and political action committees that have a very clear agenda.

Milinda Ysasi has raised a total of $30,180 and spent $18,155, according to the Kent County Clerk’s office. Ysasi has received funding from three political groups:

  • Equity PAC $1,500
  • Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce $1,000
  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield $500

Some of the larger individual contributions for Ysasi are from:

  • William Lewis $1,000
  • Jessie Bernal $600
  • Raul Ysasi $590
  • Kenyatta Brame $500
  • Raquel Salas $500
  • Paul Doyle $500

Based on the financial contributions it would appear that Milinda Ysasi has received more of her money from contributors who gave smaller amounts, although it is puzzling that the GR Chamber of Commerce would endorse her. The GR Chamber of Commerce only endorses people who are friendly towards the capitalist class and candidates that do not threaten business as usual, so their endorsement of Ysasi seems to conflict with the more grassroots aspect of her campaign supporters.

Wendy Falb is relying on more money from those who are part of political class and from those who have tremendous influence based on their status, such as Secchia and Kate Pew Walters. Farage has raised the least amount and also from a very small number of contributors.

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