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Choices abound for Grand Haven election

• Aug 5, 2019 at 1:00 PM

Elections are often black and white, red and blue.

But not on Tuesday.

Grand Haven voters will pick from a wide open field of candidates for local office in this primary election, from leaders with decades of experience to newcomers to local government. The wealth of choices on the ballot is healthy for our local democracy, and your vote never carries more weight than in a local primary.

Grand Haven is faced with a range of urgent and long-term issues: housing affordability, development, parking, infrastructure, local energy, beach safety, environmental cleanup and more. With no shortage of complex tasks at hand, the city is best served with a variety of perspectives to bring a healthy debate to public decision-making.

Councilmen Josh Brugger and Bob Monetza are challenging Mayor Geri McCaleb for her seat, which she is hoping to retain for a fifth two-year term. Councilman Mike Fritz, who has served on the council since 2003, is running for re-election, as four challengers are hoping to claim the two available council seats currently occupied by Brugger and Fritz.

Two newcomers are running for a seat on the Board of Light & Power’s five-member Board of Trustees.

Having leaders who know the ins and outs of government has advantages. The mayor knows how to run a meeting smoothly. Incumbents are looking to keep the ball rolling in projects that have benefited from their long-term attention.

On the other hand, the city benefits from having young and fresh perspectives. Ryan Cummins, who sits on the city’s Planning Commission, is looking to become the youngest City Council member at age 31. Candidates Jamie Cooper, 37, and Collin Beighley, 40, are both taking their first crack at city government.

Unfortunately, turnout in small elections yields about 10-15 percent participation. The Grand Haven mayoral primary in 2017 captured just 1,431 votes.

Your vote may seem inconsequential in a presidential election, but local primaries can come down to a handful of votes. A group of friends, family, coworkers or neighbors could make all the difference on Tuesday.

City government determines how your neighborhood looks, your safety on the roads and at the beach, the quality of the water you drink and the air you breathe. Those concerns should be enough to get you to the polls.

It’s never been easier to vote in Michigan. It’s never too late to register to vote, and you can do so at your polling station on Election Day.

The Grand Haven Tribune has for the past two weeks featured surveys with each of the local candidates for office, as well as coverage of city government, to help you know your ballot options and the issues they will face.

Voters have a lot of choices in this election. Make sure one of those choices is to be informed.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Matt DeYoung, Mark Brooky and Alexander Sinn. What do you think? Email us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com.

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