Change Address

VOTE411 Voter Guide

Kalamazoo City Commission {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

City Commissioners are elected representatives of the citizens of Kalamazoo. The Commission provides leadership and policy direction for the community and all municipal government activities with a focus on the long-term financial stability of the city and identification of community priorities.The Commission consists of seven members, including the Mayor. Commission members are elected to four-year terms staggered every two years. Three Commissioners are elected every two years. Vote for up to three candidates.
  • Candidate picture

    Leona R. Carter Best-selling Author, Speaker, Executive Life Coach/Parent Educator Coach, and Founder and CEO of Carter Strategies LLC

  • Candidate picture

    Charley Coss Business Person - Planning Commission Vice Chair

  • Candidate picture

    Eric Cunningham Case Manager

  • Candidate picture

    Erin Knott Political Strategist

  • Candidate picture

    Jack C. Urban Chemical Engineer (ret.)

Change Candidates

Biographical Information

Why are you running for Kalamazoo City Commission? What strengths or talents especially qualify you for that office?

What do you think will be two major issues confronting Kalamazoo in the next two years? How do you propose to address them?

What aspects of the Foundation for Excellence are most exciting to you? What aspects, if any, concern you?

Age 40
Occupation / Current Position I help mothers successful in their profession translate that success to motherhood.
Education Maric College, Vista CA, Nursing Certification 1997. Life Transformation Coaching Academy, Kalamazoo MI, Certified Life Coach 2017.
Experience & Qualifications As a former board member of various committees including, Vine Neighborhood Association, Kalamazoo Literacy Council, the Community Action Tripartite Advisory Board, and a mother of six, I can relate first-hand to communities that need a voice at the table. If elected, I am confident that I will be instrumental in helping to promote a solid foundation to build an even stronger, vibrant community.
Campaign Phone (269) 365-3385
Campaign Email
Campaign Facebook Page
As the largest Kalamazoo Promise family, I am committed to serving my community and running because I recognize issues such as, citizen engagement, understanding diversity and treating each other with dignity and respect, and community vitality continues to be ongoing concerns that need community voices.

As a community advocate and former board member of various committees including, Vine Neighborhood Association, Kalamazoo Literacy Council, and Community Action Tripartite Advisory Board, I will be a voice in the community represented at the table. Communities not at the table, are usually on the menu.
One major issue is the operating budget deficit. As a City Commissioner, my role will be to advocate for a plan of action to improve fiscal health and problem solve practical ways to maintain core municipal services. I am confident that the city's priority-based budgeting will continue to create a shared vision towards the goal of economic efficiency as we work towards the five priorities recently adopted.

Another major issue will be finding other ways municipalities can collaborate services to cut operating costs. As a mother of six, I would love to see more collaboration within schools and community services across municipalities.
Let's just ask a few questions:

1) Am I understanding that you would like to reduce the tax burden on residents and simultaneously ask residents to give to an endowment fund?

2) If two philanthropists are donating monetarily, who is donating a methodology, that doesn't involve the residents' pockets?

3) Of the 80% of respondents that were supportive of the Foundation for Excellence, what was the total number of residents surveyed? Do they live in the city of Kalamazoo?

4) For the strategic partnerships with organizations whose mission and work aligns with the goals of the city, what financial contribution or plan have they donated?
Age 57
Occupation / Current Position Business Owner/Operator for over 30 years. / Vice Chair City Planning Commission.
Education Bachelor of Arts - Communications / Master of Public Administration - State Gov. Concentration
Experience & Qualifications Business Owner over 30 years / City CDAAC / Planning Commission - 15 Yr / Special Olympics Volunteer - Asst. Coach 10 Yr / Ski Patrol Volunteer 10 Yr / Oakwood Neighborhood Assn. - Board 5 yr
Campaign Phone (269) 290-1237
Campaign Website
Campaign Email
Campaign Facebook Page
Campaign Twitter Handle @votecoss
We need to GET THE LEAD OUT of our Water System. Lets Support and Speed Up the Water System Repairs. Lets not be the Next Flint. We are blessed with a 70 Million Dollar windfall to lower property taxes, lets make our tax dollars work for a better Infrastructure. This is a Great Opportunity to Make Kalamazoo - The Model City. My experience in both the Private & Public Sector, making me uniquely qualified to bring a needed perspective to the City Commission. With a Communication background and understanding of budgeting, as well as project management skills, I look forward to working with the Mayor to map out a great future for Kalamazoo.
We need to address out failing Infrastructure, especially our Water System. - We need to Get THE LEAD OUT of the remain areas First. Get the Hot Zones Removed. - We need to use State of the Art Techniques to Move Faster. - Support Ours workers with better tools and training.

We need to improve our Budget and Planning, utilizing the New Consolidated/Five Year Plan as our guideline. - The City has done great work with Imagine Kalamazoo. - We should leverage this work and create a long term budget, through a Clear Vision and Mission Statement - Put that Vision into a long term Budget and partner with our great citizen organizations.
We applaud our community philanthropists in helping our great city. What a great opportunity to relieve the burden on our city's taxpayers and address some key issues facing the city like infrastructure. In the short term this new financing model works, but we must focus on long term financial sustainability. The current group of philanthropists are well known for their support of Kalamazoo, and the city wholeheartedly appreciates their investment in our future. But we need to be cautious of the concentration of funding by a few donors, who may not have the cities best interest in mind. We all need to participate in Kalamazoo's future.
Age 35
Occupation / Current Position State of Michigan / Case Manager
Education Masters Of Public Administration: Healthcare Administration Western Michigan University; Bachelor Of Business Administration: Business Management Western Michigan University
Experience & Qualifications Kalamazoo City Commissioner January 2015- November 2015; Kalamazoo County Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention council (KCAN) 2016 - Present Executive Board Member; Black Arts and Cultural Center 2015 - Present Executive Board Member; Kalamazoo Champion Child Welfare Executive Steering Committee 2013 - 2015 Community/Communications Vice Chairman; Northside Rocket Football, Ages 4-6 Head Coach
Campaign Phone (269) 615-1947
Campaign Facebook Page
As a life-long resident, I love my community and I'm eager to develop innovative, sustainable pro-growth solutions to our present challenges. I am motivated to return to the Commission to promote fiscal responsibility, increased revenue through business/job development, and guide opportunities offered by the Foundation for Excellence. My passion lies in people, young and old alike, and strengths include seeking and considering a wide variety of opinions from multiple sources and perspectives. I am proud of my ability to understand complex issues and work with diverse interests in developing policy solutions reflective of our community values.
1. City Budget: While the Foundation for Excellence will plug some short term gaps and provide funding for new programs, work is needed to solve structural deficiencies and plan for the longer term. Ensuring efficient operations, effective programs, and continuous improvement through measurement will be key and an area in which I have experience/interest. 2. Intergovernmental Collaboration: Our community is unique, but our competition is global. Jurisdictional boundaries cannot become barriers to development/growth. The city can lead the broader community in surveying area needs and assets to create and pursue a long term regional vision.
In addition to making our city more economically competitive through reduced property taxes, the gift transforms us from a mode of cuts to one of investment in our people and infrastructure. It affords the pursuit of aspirational goals and environmental, economic, and social programs to enhance the well-being of older adults, youth, and the impoverished. My greatest concern is that Foundation be viewed as an exit versus a bridge for city government to become self-sustaining. We cannot squander this opportunity; we must demand excellence and solid outcomes on our quest for a vibrant, thriving, growing city with a sound and sustainable budget.
Age 42
Occupation / Current Position Field Manager, Equality Michigan and Political Consultant, Brass Tactics
Education B.S., Criminal Justice and Social Psychology, Western Michigan University, and M.A., Administration and Philanthropy, Central Michigan University
Experience & Qualifications Over 20 years of neighborhood community development and political advocacy experience. Ability to develop, coordinate and implement strategies. In-depth knowledge of the political process, local and statewide organizations. Familiarity with grassroots organizing and policy work. Ability to mobilize individuals and organizations to build consensus. Understanding of budgets and financial reports.
Campaign Phone (269) 910-6909
Campaign Website
Campaign Email
Campaign Facebook Page
I am running for re-election because this is a time of tremendous opportunity, and trusted leadership, experience and vision is needed. As an active community member for over 20 years, I appreciate the important role that committed local leaders can play in delivering core services to the entire community. I have a long history of civic involvement and deep community roots. My pragmatic leadership abilities have been recognized through my relationships with residents, neighborhood leaders, business owners, and other stakeholders. I believe my reputation for consensus building and problem solving will help sustain and move Kalamazoo forward.
The city has an obligation to all residents, from students to seniors, regardless of their economic standing. We must increase prosperity and address the challenges faced by too many within our community related to affordable housing, individual and family wealth, and economic development. Quality, affordable housing must be available for all residents, throughout the city. We must expand workforce training and skilled trades opportunities, leveraging partnerships with businesses and educational institutions. Finally, we must encourage entrepreneurship by matching innovation with investors and exploring new venture capital partnerships.
I have been a staunch supporter of the Foundation for Excellence and I have strived for transparency while actively representing constituents’ interests as the founding documents were prepared and adopted. The Commission has lowered property taxes from 19 mils to 12 mils. We have also begun funding aspirational projects, including expanding our youth programs to serve over 600 children and teenagers, park enhancements and trimming 625 trees, repairing 5,500 feet of sidewalks and constructing 1,000 feet of curbs, improving 33 streets, and removing 400 lead pipes from our neighborhoods. Thoughtful stewardship of this money is my top priority.
Age 76
Occupation / Current Position Chemical Engineer / Kalamazoo City Commissioner
Education Ph.D. Ch.E (U of Md, 1967)
Experience & Qualifications Kalamazoo County Commissioner 3 terms. President, Kal. River Cleanup Coalition. Member, Parks Foundation of K. County. Founding member, Kalamazoo County Public Transit Authority. Chair, Zoning Board of Appeals, CoK. Chair, Divided Region Task Force, ISAAC. Associate Director, Fermentation Products at Pharmacia & Upjohn.
Campaign Phone (269) 381-2285
Campaign Website
Campaign Email
Campaign Facebook Page
Campaign Twitter Handle none
The city has so much potential as a vibrant center of our metro area. I want to build public support for building a prosperous, sustainable community for the 21st Century, with higher population density and more intense economic activity within our limited jurisdictional boundaries. I also want to stay on the Commission to see that the Priority Based Budgeting process is transparent and understandable to non-accountants, including myself, and readily accessible by our citizens. I have experience as a manager, an ISAAC leader and as an elected official at the County as well as the City level.
1. The transparent implementation of the Foundation for Excellence, and putting into place the policies, practices and norms of relationships that will maximize its effectiveness in helping the city achieve its priorities. 2. The other issue is dealing with poverty and its effects on individuals and its impact on how we see ourselves as a city. As the urban core of our metropolitan area, we cannot move away from our demographic makeup. We are America, too. We need jobs that lead to careers, safe housing that is affordable and ways get around safely and conveniently without a car.
The chief one is the opportunity to build trust and unity of purpose across the divide between rich and poor. Our common purpose is the sustainable prosperity of our community. We may have the means to achieve that, if we invest wisely and thoughtfully. Mutual trust must be built, tested and and thereby strengthened. So far, so good, but there is much more to do. I have concern that the investments we make in infrastructure will not grow our tax base at a rate sufficient to lessen our dependence on philanthropy. Our city is still landlocked with insufficient taxable property, Since we can't build out, we must build up. logo


All statements and videos are posted directly by the candidate, unedited by the League of Women Voters and do not express the views of the League. The League never supports or opposes candidates or political parties.