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Who is bankrolling the Ballot Proposals in Grand Rapids?

October 26, 2020

There are two groups spending money to convince voters on whether or not to make local elections even years or keep them on odd years, like it is now?

The group that is opposed to Proposal 1 goes by the name, Keep GR Local. Based on the campaign finance data, the group raised $14.178.33 to convince people to vote no. Mayor Bliss contributed $500, former Mayor George Heartwell $100, Current City Commissioner Ysasi gave $150, former City Commissioner Ruth Kelly contributed $100, Steve Pestka $500 and the COO of Rockford Construction contributed $500. However, the bulk of the funding came from the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce Ballot Question Committee, which contributed $10,000 to this campaign.

On the opposing side there is the group Empower the Citizens, which collected the signatures to put this issue on the ballot. According to the Campaign Finance documents from the Kent County Clerk, they raised a total of $36,000. Some of the largest contributors to this campaign were:

  • Bonnie Burke $7,100
  • Sidney Jansma $3,500
  • Norma Van Kuiken $5,000
  • Barbara Gordon $5,000
  • Margaret Potter $4,500
  • Robert Powers $2,000
  • Rev. Robert Sirico $2,000

Jansma is the Chairman of the Board at Wolverine Oil & Gas. Norma Van Kuiken lives in Ada, and has historically contributed to GOP candidates, and the Rev. Robert Sirico is the founder and President of the far right think tank, the Acton Institute.

Seems like there are big bankrollers on both sides, and the biggest are connected to power.

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