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Ellis doubles down on bid to upset Amash

Ellis doubles down on bid to upset Amash

WASHINGTON (Maureen Groppe, Gannett Washington Bureau)— Brian Ellis, the Republican financial consultant hoping to upset GOP Rep. Justin Amash in next month’s primary, has committed $800,000 of his own money to the race, new campaign disclosure reports show.

That puts him among the top 10 self-funders running for the House this year, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington group that tracks political fundraising. But Ellis still had only about half as much cash in the bank as Amash about a month before the Aug. 5 primary.

And Amash has benefited from about $373,000 in independent advertising from the conservative Club for Growth, which wants to see him re-elected.

That compares with the approximately $844,000 that Amash’s own campaign has spent through June and the $1 million that Ellis has spent.

Jury duty, trampoline court guidelines signed into law by Governor

Jury duty, trampoline court guidelines signed into law by Governor

LANSING, Mich.—Full-time college students called to jury duty can now postpone their service until the end of the school year.

Governor Snyder signed that bill into law Tuesday.  It allows students attending higher education in Michigan to delay jury duty if they can prove it will interfere with their class schedule. A similar exemption already exists for eligible high school students.

“Serving on a jury is an important part of our civic responsibility,” Snyder said. “However, for college students, jury duty can be disruptive to their studies. This law gives them the opportunity to focus on their education while still giving them the opportunity to serve after the school year.”  

Kent County Commissioner stepping down Feb. 1

Kent County Commissioner stepping down Feb. 1

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—The search is about to begin to replace another Kent County commissioner.

Sandi Frost Steensma will officially resign from her post on Saturday, Feb. 1.  Steensma began serving on the Board of Commissioners seven years ago.  She was re-elected three times to represent District 5, which covers Bowne Township, Cascade Township, Lowell Township and a part of Caledonia Township.

“Commissioner Steensma has operated in a bi-partisan manner in the commission chambers,

while working to maintain the county’s balanced budgets and AAA Credit Rating,” said commission chairman Dan Koorndyk of the Kent County Board of Commissioners. “She has shown a passion for the parks and other programs that make Kent County a quality community, and has worked diligently to create a new entity to oversee John Ball Zoo.”

Steensma was recently appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to serve on the Board of Trustees for Lake Superior State University.

John Decker files candidacy for 73rd District House seat

John Decker files candidacy for 73rd District House seat

CANNON TOWNSHIP, Mich. – John A. Decker, retired auto dealership owner, announced his candidacy in the Aug. 5, 2014 Republican primary for Michigan’s 73rd House District.

The seat is currently held by Peter MacGregor, who has chosen not to seek re-election and is instead vying for a seat in the Michigan Senate.

“I plan to take the knowledge I gained as a responsible businessman to Lansing and represent the 73rd District with the utmost integrity,” said Decker, who has nearly 25 years experience owning General Motors dealerships. “I am fortunate enough to be retired, but I have the desire to give back to the communities that supported me both as a businessman and personally.”

Decker resides in Kent County’s Cannon Township. He has been married for 30 years to his wife, Connie.

Conservative group ads target G.R. businessman in congressional primary

Conservative group ads target G.R. businessman in congressional primary

WASHINGTON (Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press) — The conservative Club for Growth typically only gets involved in a handful of races nationwide each election cycle — and it looks like at least one Michigan primary is on its radar.

The organization’s political action committee today unveiled what it called a “six-figure” TV and radio ad campaign criticizing Brian Ellis, a Grand Rapids businessman and former school board member running in the Republican primary against libertarian firebrand U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of Cascade Charter Township.

In the two ads, the Club for Growth says Ellis “raised property taxes, hiked spending and left massive deficits” while a member of the East Grand Rapids School Board. They also accused him, as a member of the Michigan Strategic Fund, of having “wasted ... tax dollars on a golf resort,” as well as businesses producing gourmet mushrooms and pet food.

Senator Jansen decides against congressional run

Senator Jansen decides against congressional run

KENT COUNTY, Mich.—  Republican Senator Mark Jansen says he will not join the race for Congressman Justin Amash’s seat next year.

“I have decided at this time my focus will continue to help Michigan find the road to recovery, from Grand Rapids to Detroit to the Upper Peninsula to our lake shores,” Jansen said. ”Right now I really feel the call to continue helping Michigan’s recovery as my Senate term ends in 13 short months.”

Jansen says he has been “strongly encouraged” to run for the 3rd Congressional District seat for the past two years.  He believes people want the same level of reform achieved in Michigan to happen in Washington.

Jansen represents the northern portion of Kent County.  The U.S. 3rd Congressional District includes Belding, Rockford, Lowell, East Grand Rapids, Walker, Ada and Cascade, Alpine Township, Sparta, Plainfield Township and all of Grand Rapids.

Members vote on whether to allow Village and Township to leave Metro Council

Members vote on whether to allow Village and Township to leave Metro Council

Two communities are trying to leave the Grand Valley Metropolitan Council.

Right now, members of the Metro Council are voting on whether to allow Sparta and Sparta Township to withdraw and Ada Township to join the group. Sparta officials say the city council decided to withdraw from the Metro Council about a year and a half ago. 

If all the changes are approved, 33 counties, cities, townships and villages will be members of the Metro Council, which is in charge of coordinating development and governmental affairs across municipalities.