Who Is Running?

This post will be updated as the situation changes regarding the 2024 municipal elections.

Even Year Elections & Term Limits

2024 is not only an election year it is the first election where the impact of term limits and even year voting will be fully realized. Grand Rapids adopted term-limits via public referendum in 2014. City Commission elections were changed via public referendum from odd to even years in 2022; city commissioners who's terms would have ended in 2021 were granted a bonus year, terms extended to 2022. The mayor's term which would have ended in 2023 was extended to 2024.

The term limits language is:

no person shall be eligible for election as City Commissioner if they have served as City Commissioner for two terms, and no person shall be eligible for election as Mayor if they have served as Mayor for two terms.

The following current elected officials cannot seek reelection in 2024 due to term-limits:

  • Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, elected 2015 and 2019 [odd year w/bonus].
  • Jon O'Connor (1st Ward), elected in 2015 & 2019 [odd year w/bonus]

Current commissioners ending their first term who will be eligible to run for a second term in 2024:

  • Milinda Ysasi (2nd Ward), elected to first term in 2019 [odd year w/bonus]
  • Nathaniel Moody (1st Ward), appointed to vacancy in July 2018, elected to first full term in 2019 [odd year w/bonus].

Commissioners Drew Robbins (1st Ward), Lisa Knight (2nd Ward), and Kelsey Perdue (3rd Ward) were all elected in 2022 and are serving their first terms ending in 2026. All three will be eligible to run for a second term in 2026. In the 2022 election both Lisa Knight and Drew Robbins defeated incumbent candidates; Joe Jones and Kurt Reppart, respectively. Kelsey Purdue was elected to an open seat, the incumbent being ineligible due to term limits.

City Manager Government

Grand Rapids is a "City Manger" government. This means that the day to day operations of the city are managed by a City Manager who is hired by the city, selected by whomever is on the City Commission at the time a City Manager vacancy occurs. Yes, this means that one of the most powerful roles in city government is not elected by the residents of the city. As the non-elected City Manager establishes the City Commission agenda this creates a strange system where those running for or holding office neither advance policy ideas nor do they have much if any incentive to [publicly] state their policy positions - - - leaving citizens with little motivation to support or oppose candidates. This is reflected in voter participation in city elections.

In my precinct (Ward #2, Precinct 31) in 2022 - not a presidential election year - 37.4% of voters voted for neither Lisa Knight or Joe Jones. Lisa Knight won the race with 44.6% of the precinct, vs. Joe Jones 18%. The second place candidate was beat, in terms of percentage, by voters who didn't bother.

Declared Candidates

The deadline to file to run for mayor of Grand Rapids is April 23rd, 2024.

Comment: Several candidates have an emphasis on public health and public health services. As a consideration in reading candidate responses it is important to remember that the city of Grand Rapids does not have a public health department; in the state of Michigan public health services are a function of the county. Public health is, of course, an important consideration, but the organization and operation of such services - and their funding - is not under the control of the City Commission. This is much like Grand Rapids Public Schools, which are not a part of the municipal government or the Interurban Transit Partnership (the Rapid) which is not a part of the municipal government. The City Commission may [or may not] have influence over those institutions, but they do not have control of them; nor do they control the funding of either. In the state of Michigan cities also have no regulatory power related to emissions, the city is limited to enforcing limits established by state and federal regulations.


  • David LaGrand. Founder of Wealthy Street Bakery, principle in Long Road Distillers, previous Grand Rapids City Commissioner, currently represents the 75th district in the Michigan House of Representatives.

    • Candidate Website
    • Endorsements: Grand Rapids' Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, Former Grand Rapids' Mayor George Heartwell, Tami VandenBerg
    • Policy Positions: Financial disclosure for electied officials, performance and fiscal audits made public, a weekly town hall discussion moving around the city ("Mayor's Mondays"), sufficient investment in solar energy to cover the needs of city residents within five (5) years,
    • News:

  • Senita Lenear. Former Third Ward City Commissioner, through December 2022. Served on the Grand Rapids Public Schools board.

    • Candidate Website
    • Endorsements: 2nd Ward Commissioner Milinda Ysasi, The Future - Today & Tomorrow (PAC)
    • Policy Positions: fully funding the Safe Alliances for Everyone (SAFE) Task Force, expansion of DASH service, establishment of the sustainable business park
    • News:

      • Former city commissioner Senita Lenear announces run for Grand Rapids mayor, MLive 2023-11-21
      • LaGrand leading Lenear in early fundraising for Grand Rapids mayor’s race, MLive 2024-02-09

        Lenear listed her top three priorities as mayor as having more conversations at the neighborhood level and listening to the priorities of those residents and businesses; spurring local business development, including a plan to bolster business and housing growth along the Alpine and Plainfield avenue and 28th Street corridors and elsewhere; and expanding and fully funding the Safe Alliances for Everyone (SAFE) Task Force, which provides grants to grassroots organizations and people for anti-violence strategies in the city.
      • Empowering Voices, Driving Change: The Future – Today & Tomorrow Official Launch And Endorsementsr, Harlem World 2024-02-19.

        This ambitious fundraising goal highlights the PAC’s dedication to empowering visionary leaders and ensuring the representation of underserved communities. The endorsed candidates include Dr. Pamela Pugh and Tiffany Tilley for Congress in Michigan, Mary Waters for Detroit City Council, Rashida Tlaib for Congress in Michigan, Terris Todd for Congress in Virginia, Senita Lenear for Mayor of Grand Rapids, and Donna McLeod for Gwinnett County Chair.
      • Mayoral candidate Senita Lenear to host neighborhood listening sessions, 2024-05-02 WZZM13

      • Mayoral Candidate Senita Lenear Announces Her “Neighborhood Connections” Schedule

        Mayoral candidate Senita Lenear announces her “Neighborhood Connections” gatherings meant to engage with residents across the city. “Neighborhood by neighborhood I want to continue engaging the citizens of Grand Rapids to hear what is on their hearts and minds for the City’s future. I have heard stories from residents, businesses, non-profits, and other public institutions over the past 5 months, since announcing my candidacy, and this feedback is helping me to shape the priorities I will bring as mayor. The public is invited to join me at these Neighborhood Connections at a time that is convenient for them, please check out the schedule and locations and meet me there,” said Lenear.
      • Meet the candidates: 2024 Grand Rapids mayoral election, Rapidian 2024-06-14

        ... I will respect the desires of those that are challenged by housing that encroaches on their property. ....
      • Grand Rapids Climate Coalition Candidate Responses, GRClimate.org 2024-07-08

      • Four running for Grand Rapids mayor in August primary, MLive 2024-07-12

  • Steve Owens 2nd Ward resident

    • Candidate Website
    • Endorsements:
    • Policy Positions:
      • Streets should be plowed more often, the threshold for plowing should be reduced from 3in to 2.5in
      • No tax funding for stadiums
      • Expand mixed-use zoning
      • Improve the city's credit rating
      • Tax incentives for child-care facilities and services
      • Increased frequency of high utilization public transportation routes
      • Opposed to the Amphitheater, Soccer Stadium, and Aquarium projects, Opposed to bike lanes. Opposed to public EV charging infrastructure.
    • News:

1st Ward Commissioner

  • Alicia Marie Belchak
    • Candidate Website
    • Endorsements: Tami VandenBerg
    • Policy Positions: what appears to be, effectively, the creation of municipal health department with the establishment of health centers and the deployment of community health workers, repurposing parking lots into parks and community hubs, expanding Rapid service and frequency, transitioning to electric buses, construction of additional BRT lines, creation of car-free zones, incentives for electrical vehicle purchases, expansion of energy assistance programs, moving forward with the sustainable business part, a single-use plastics ban
    • News

2nd Ward Commissioner

  • Melinda Ysasi, incumbent 2nd Ward Commissioner.

3rd Ward Commissioner

  • Marshal Kilgore : Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Western Michigan University, Director of Engagement WMEAC. Currently serves on the Vital Streets Oversight Commission, Urban Agriculture Committee, and Housing Appeals Board.

    • Candidate Website
    • Endorsements: Tami VandenBerg, Kent County Democratic Party, County Commissioner Kris Pachia, State Representative Kristian Grant
    • Policy Positions: Inclusionary zoning (mandated affordable housing), expansion of community land trusts, implementation of community solar, moving truck routes out of neighborhoods ["equitable distribution of traffic flow"], rebates for efficient appliances, increased funding for the 3rd Ward Equity Fund
    • News

  • Reggie Howard

Other Races

Kent County Board of Commissioners

Kent count commissioners are elected to two (2) year terms from roughly equivalent districts [in the context of population]. The district map for Kent county can be found 👉here👈. There are 21 districts; the shape of may of the districts is . . . interesting. County commissioners are not term-limited.

Grand Rapids Districts

  • District#6 : currently occupied by Stan Stek
  • District#12 : currently occupied by Monica Sparks
  • District#14 : currently occupied by Carol Hennessy
  • District#16 : currently occupied by Melissa LaGrand
  • District#17 : currently occupied by Tony Baker, who is seeking reelection.
  • District#19 : currently occupied by Kris Pachla
  • District#18 : currently occupied by Stephen Wooden, who is not seeking reelection.
    • Steve Faber (D)
      • Supports "Ready by Five" early childhood millage, supports the senior services millage, supports the Kent County Affordable Housing Revolving Load Fund, remembers to mention public transportation.
    • Dan Hesse (D)
    • James R. Rinck, no website (D)
  • District#19 : currently occupied by Kris Pachla
  • District#20 : currently occupied by Ivan Diaz

Michigan House of Representatives

  • District #80: Phil Skaggs (D), Bill Sage (R)
  • District #81: Stephan Wooden (D), Jordan Youngquist (R)
  • District #82: Kristian Grant (D), Ryan Malinoski (R)
  • District #83: John Fitzgerald (D), undecided (R) [John Fitzgerald vs. Tommy Brann]
  • District #84: undecided (D) [Carol Glanville vs. Justin Rackham], undecided (R) [Ben June vs. John Wetzel]


Michigan Senate

  • District #29 (southern Grand Rapids): Kyle Wright (D), James DeSana (R)
  • District #30 (northern Grand Rapids): Rick Kuil (D), William T. Bruck (R)