See the crowded field of candidates running for Kent County School Boards

KENT COUNTY, MI — There are a large number of candidates running for school board races in Kent County.

Twenty-one public school districts and two Kent County community colleges will open seats on their governing school boards by the end of this year, and nearly every race for those open seats is contested.

Some of the hottest races are Bryon Center, East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills, Lowell, Grand Rapids, and Rockford school boards. In each of these races, the number of contenders is more than double the number of open seats.

Voters will make their decisions for school board races in the Nov. 8 election.

The past two years have been tumultuous at times for many school boards across the state of Michigan, as communities have been divided over controversial topics such as COVID-19 mask mandates in schools, critical race theory, gender issues and sex education, and more.

Sometimes elected members of school boards had to bear the brunt of the frustration and hostility of parents concerned about their children’s education. Monthly school board meetings, which used to be mundane, became the local battleground for contentious issues in some districts, as community members spent hours in public commentary debating the issues.

Since the height of the pandemic, things have cooled down.

The application deadline for school board candidates was late last month.

There are four races in Kent County where there were not enough candidates who showed up for the ballot in time to fill the entire council.

No candidates filed for the Belding School Board, the Montcalm Community College Board of Trustees, and a partial term on the Kellogsville School Board. Only one candidate filed two partial mandates that open to the Godwin Heights School Board.

In those cases, school boards will be able to name those seats after they expire Dec. 31, said Dan Feinberg, assistant director of labor relations and legal services for the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB). They will have 30 days to fill these open seats.

Here is the list of candidates who entered each Kent County school board race, starting with the two community colleges.

Grand Rapids Community College Board of Trustees, 6-year term (elect three)

Kenyatta Brame (holder)

Kathleen Bruinsma (incumbent)

Salvador Lopez (holder)

GRCC Board of Directors, partial term ending December 31, 2024 (elect one)

David Koetje (holder)

Montcalm Community College Board of Trustees, 6-year term (elect two)

No candidate submitted

Belding Area Schools, 6-Year Term (Elect Two)

No candidate submitted

Byron Center Public Schools, 4-year term (elect three)

Bruce Dennett (incumbent)

Chuck Fedewa (incumbent)

Shannon Schans

Daniel Sherwood

Amber Swift

Thalia Tilma

Brad Wiechertjes

Caledonia Community Schools, 6-year term (elect three)

John Brandow

Jacques Ernest

Tim Morris (holder)

Jennifer Nichols

Ian Rice

Marie-Anne Timmer

Eric Van Gessel

Cedar Springs Public Schools, 4-year term (elect four)

Max Bloomquist

Mistie Bowser (incumbent)

april skate

Heidi Reed (incumbent)

Traci Slager (incumbent)

Comstock Park Public Schools, 4-year term (elect four)

Deidra Blazon (holder)

Michael Brown (holder)

Kevin McLellan

Roman Rodriquez (holder)

Ted Spangenberg (starter)

East Grand Rapids Public Schools, 4-year term (elect three)

Pierre Bisbee

Karen Machiorlatti-Waldron

Benjamin Masterson

Steve Millman

Mike Reid (incumbent)

Matthew Richenthal

Janice P. Yates (incumbent)

Forest Hills Public Schools, 6-year term (elect three)

Suzanne Callahan (holder)

Holly DeBoer

Kevinn Matthew Donovan (incumbent)

Jessica John

Doug Lee

CJ Michaud (holder)

Jackie Nickel

Malorie Ninemeier

Justin Sheldon

Brian Sprake

Forest Hills Public Schools, partial term ending December 31, 2024 (elect one)

Ed Aboufade

Robert Cribbs

Mary Vonck (holder)

Godfrey-Lee Public Schools, 6-year term (elect two)

Josephine Coleman (holder)

Lynn D. Velthouse (incumbent)

Godwin Heights Public Schools, 6-year term (elect two)

Adam Burley (incumbent)

Kathryn Crow DeYoung (incumbent)

Megan Erskine

Lee Ann Platschorre (incumbent)

Godwin Heights Public Schools, partial term ending December 31, 2024 (elect two)

Colleen Anderson

Grand Rapids Public Schools, 4-year term (elect five)

Ana Aleman Putman

amanda bernes

Andrew T. Clausen

Kymberlie Davis (starter)

Brett Graham

John M. Matias (incumbent)

Sara Melton

Jennifer McFarlane

Jose Rodriguez

Aarie Wade

Kimberly Williams (starter)

Grandville Public Schools, 6-year term (elect two)

Erica Abel

Joe Steffes

Trent Joseph Taylor

Bob Wondergem (holder)

Cameron Zbikowski

Kelloggsville Public Schools, 6-year term (elect two)

Crystal Reidzans (incumbent)

Gladys Townsend (holder)

Kelloggsville Public Schools, partial term ending December 31, 2026 (elect one)

No candidate submitted

Kenowa Hills Public Schools, 4-year term (elect four)

Jeffrey S. Gustinis (incumbent)

Tracey L. Hart (holder)

Beth McCarthy

Mark A. Robinson

Danielle M. Storey Roberts (incumbent)

Corey Turner

Mark A. van Kuik

Kent City Community Schools, 6-year term (elect two)

Stacey Alt (incumbent)

Duane Gritter

Kyle Larson

William Mohr II

Beth Spaman

Kent City Community Schools, partial term ending December 31, 2026 (choose one)

Sandra Vanderhyde-Volkers (incumbent)

Kentwood Public Schools, 4-year term (elect three)

Pete Battey (starter)

Sylvia A. James (holder)

James Lewis Jr. (incumbent)

Kim Taboada Arzate

Kentwood Public Schools, partial term ending December 31, 2024 (elect one)

Tanya Powell-May (incumbent)

Lowell Area Schools, 4-Year Term (Elect Three)

Jared M. Blough (incumbent)

Jessica Curtis (holder)

Jennifer Dougherty

Christopher German

Kyle Hoff

Parker Liu

Patrick D. Nugent (incumbent)

Calvin Vander Boon

Northview Public Schools, 6-year term (elect two)

Emilie Charpentier

Linda K. LaBerteaux (incumbent)

Cal Morton

Rockford Public Schools, 4-year term (elect three)

Bobbi Jo M. Blanton (incumbent)

Jarrod W. Folsom (holder)

Barbara Helms

Andrea R. Jacobson (incumbent)

Craig C.Ladyman

Christie J. Ramsey

Nicole Villegas

Rockford Public Schools, partial term ending December 31, 2024 (elect one)

Tricia Anderson

Timothy J. Lewis (incumbent)

Schools in the Sparta region, 6-year term (elect two)

Mark L. Alster (incumbent)

Amber Bremer

Wayland Union Schools, 4-year term (elect three)

Pete Zondervan (starter)

Jake Gless

Norman L. Taylor (incumbent)

Jeff Koun

Michael B. Warren

Wayland Union Schools, partial term ending December 31, 2024 (elect one)

Janel L. Hott (incumbent)

Cinnamon L. Mellema (holder)

Wyoming Public Schools, 6-Year Term (Elect Two)

Jeff Norton (incumbent)

Audrey L. Zapata (incumbent)

Wyoming Public Schools, Partial Term Ending Dec. 31, 2026 (Elect One)

Andrew Hanselman

Lisa Manley

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