The National Down Syndrome Society and Voya Cares® to Provide $55000 in Grants for Entrepreneurs With Down Syndrome - Watertown Public Opinion

The National Down Syndrome Society and Voya Cares® to Provide $55000 in Grants for Entrepreneurs With Down Syndrome - Watertown Public Opinion

The National Down Syndrome Society and Voya Cares® to Provide $55000 in Grants for Entrepreneurs With Down Syndrome - Watertown Public Opinion

Posted: 29 Jul 2020 10:45 AM PDT

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jul 29, 2020--

Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), announced today that the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) and Voya Cares ® are collaborating to provide financial support to entrepreneurs with Down syndrome to raise awareness of the need for businesses of all sizes to embrace disability inclusive employment. The application period opens on July 29, 2020, for four grants to be used to start a business or invest more capital into an existing company.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:

National Down Syndrome Society logo

Three $10,000 grants and one $25,000 grant will be awarded this October, in celebration of Down Syndrome Awareness Month and National Disability Employment Awareness Month. They will be part of a "Go Orange" awareness campaign by NDSS and Voya to boost the national conversation about the need for greater employment opportunities for people with Down syndrome and other disabilities.

"In June 2020, the percentage of working age people with a disability who were employed was 28.4% as compared to 67.7% for those without a disability," noted NDSS President and CEO Kandi Pickard. "Limited employment opportunities have led many people in the disability community to think outside the box and build their own businesses. Individuals with Down syndrome are revolutionizing the small business community by showcasing their passion and creativity. NDSS is grateful to work with Voya Cares to provide this unique opportunity for individuals to invest and grow."

"Our nation recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26, 2020, and as with any underserved community, laws may grant equal opportunities, but that doesn't mean equal opportunities exist," said Jessica Tuman, vice president, Voya Cares ® at Voya Financial. "Voya continues to push for societal change. We are honored to work with NDSS to help establish a secure financial future where all Americans can thrive."

Eligible individuals with Down syndrome who have innovative business ideas can apply for a Go Orange grant by visiting the NDSS website at and completing an application by Aug. 31, 2020. Recipients will be chosen based on the creativity of their business plan, their goals for the future of their business and the impact they are making in their communities.

About Voya Financial ®

Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), helps Americans plan, invest and protect their savings — to get ready to retire better. Serving the financial needs of approximately 13.8 million individual and institutional customers in the United States, Voya is a Fortune 500 company that had $7.5 billion in revenue in 2019. The company had $538 billion in total assets under management and administration as of March 31, 2020. With a clear mission to make a secure financial future possible — one person, one family, one institution at a time — Voya's vision is to be America's Retirement Company ®. Certified as a "Great Place to Work" by the Great Place to Work ® Institute, Voya is equally committed to conducting business in a way that is socially, environmentally, economically and ethically responsible. Voya has been recognized as a 2020 World's Most Admired Company by Fortune magazine; one of the 2020 World's Most Ethical Companies ® by the Ethisphere Institute; as a member of the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index; and as a "Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion" on the Disability Equality Index by Disability:IN. For more information, visit Follow Voya Financial on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @Voya.

About Voya Cares ®

An extension of Voya's vision and mission to help all Americans have the quality of life they seek in retirement, the Voya Cares program is committed to being a leader in making a positive difference in the lives of individuals with special needs and disabilities — as well as their families, caregivers and other providers — by offering a depth of resources focused on education, planning and solutions. Go to to learn more.

About NDSS

The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) is the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome. NDSS programming includes the National Advocacy & Policy Center, which seeks to create systemic change through engaged advocacy; the National Buddy Walk® program, which honors and celebrates individuals with Down syndrome in local communities across the world, and other programs that provide support, informational resources and community engagement opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome and those who love and support for them. Visit for more information about NDSS programs and resources.


View source version on


Jessica Speziale

Voya Financial

Cell: (646) 284-3063

Jessica.Speziale@voya.comMichelle Sagan

National Down Syndrome Society

Cell: (202) 848-5409



SOURCE: Voya Financial, Inc.

Copyright Business Wire 2020.

PUB: 07/29/2020 01:45 PM/DISC: 07/29/2020 01:45 PM

Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google grilled on Capitol Hill over their market power - The Washington Post

Posted: 29 Jul 2020 03:55 PM PDT

"Our founders would not bow before a king. Nor should we bow before the emperors of the online economy," said Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.).

Cicilline, the chairman of the antitrust panel, opened a congressional investigation of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google last year, aiming to explore whether the tech industry's most influential quartet of companies had attained their status through potentially anti-competitive means. In response, the four chief executives — Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Apple's Tim Cook, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Google's Sundar Pichai — took the witness stand to fiercely defend their businesses Wednesday as rags-to-riches success stories, made possible only through American ingenuity and the sustained support of their ever-growing customer bases.

But lawmakers repeatedly presented a different vision at their hearing, one in which Silicon Valley's myriad advancements in commerce, consumer electronics, communication and a vast array of online services had come at an immense cost to the people who use those tools and the companies that seek to compete against the tech giants.

In exchanges likely to have lasting resonance, Democrats repeatedly confronted Facebook's Zuckerberg with his own past emails. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the top lawmaker on the House Judiciary Committee, brought up a 2012 message in which Zuckerberg apparently said he sought to acquire Instagram, which at the time was a rival photo-sharing app, out of fear that it could "meaningfully hurt us." Later, Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) pointed to other Facebook communications that described the company's acquisition strategy generally as "a land grab."

"Mergers and acquisitions that buy off potential competitive threats violate the antitrust laws," Nadler charged. "In your own words, you purchased Instagram to neutralize a competitive threat."

"We compete hard. We compete fairly. We try to be the best," Zuckerberg said earlier in the hearing.

Amazon, meanwhile, faced withering scrutiny over allegations it may have misled the committee. The e-commerce giant previously told lawmakers it does not tap data from third-party sellers to boost sales of its own products. But Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.) brought up public reports that indicated to the contrary, prompting Bezos — delivering his first-ever testimony to Congress — to offer a striking admission of potential fault.

"What I can tell you is we have a policy against using seller-specific data to aid our private label business," he said. "But I can't guarantee you that policy has never been violated."

For all four executives, the afternoon offered an abundance of additional uncomfortable clashes, laying bare the broad, bipartisan frustrations with the way Silicon Valley puts users' privacy at risk, polices content online and hurts competitors, including small businesses that have told lawmakers they cannot hope to compete with these tech giants. On several occasions, lawmakers cut off or talked over the tech executives when they offered vague or long answers, seeking to hold them to account for the evidence investigators had gathered from their probe.

Republicans, meanwhile, largely used their time during the hearing to attack some tech companies for engaging in perceived political censorship against conservatives, a charge that the industry vehemently denies.

"We all think the free market is great. We think competition is great. We love the fact that these are American companies," said Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. "But what's not great is censoring people, censoring conservators and trying to impact elections. And if it doesn't end, there has to be consequences."

Despite scattered outbursts of political theater, the hearing could carry immense weight at a time when Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have lost support among both political parties — while also facing a slew of investigations around the world. In the United States, the Department of Justice may file an antitrust lawsuit against Google as soon as this summer, The Washington Post has previously reported, with cases against other companies potentially further on the horizon.

Cicilline, for his part, is expected to issue a report in August outlining the case for updating federal competition rules that would give regulators more power to probe and penalize the industry. The fruits of his investigation could offer Congress one of the first major actions it can take if it aims to rein in big tech.

The four companies' leaders began Wednesday by raising their right hands and taking the customary oath to deliver truthful testimony from the west coast. Videoconferencing software helped beam the typically made-for-television moment into a sparsely attended, windowless congressional committee room thousands of miles away from the country's tech heartland.

Each of the tech executives took great pains to stress their contributions to the U.S. economy. Amazon described itself as one of the most popular consumer brands, where consumers can get their goods quickly and cheaply. Apple said it had enabled a wildly popular ecosystem of apps and widely prized, high-end phones to match. Facebook said it had stood for free expression and speech against a rising tide of international censorship, pointing to new competitors including TikTok. And Google said its tools made it possible for people to find information and businesses worldwide to grow.

Quickly, though, Democrats on the House's top antitrust committee sought to unspool the circumstances behind the four tech giants' successes.

Some lawmakers specifically accused Google of weaponizing its popular search engine to put rivals at a disadvantage. Cicilline specifically charged Google had "stolen content to build your own business," citing its practice of culling and displaying information at the top of users' search results.

Google historically has said its approach to search helps people find the answers they need or the products they're looking for. In the case of Yelp, though, Cicilline questioned Google's motives, stressing the search giant had stolen its restaurant reviews and threatened to "delist" the site when it complained. Cicilline also accused Google of monitoring web traffic to "identify competitive threats."

"Our documents show that Google evolved from a turnstile to the rest of the web to a walled garden that increasingly keeps users within its sights," he said.

Pichai, for his part, disputed the characterization that Google had stolen content and put rivals at a disadvantage. "Today, we support 1.4 million small businesses supporting over $385 billion in their core economic activity," he said. "We see many businesses thrive, particularly even during the pandemic."

Cook, the head of Apple, received fewer questions than his counterparts. But several lawmakers peppered him with questions about the way the company handles its App Store — and the companies that have developed competing products or services that Apple also offers.

Some lawmakers repeatedly raised the company's policy to take up to a 30 percent commission on in-app sales and subscriptions, a fee that has chafed prominent companies including Spotify, who fear they have no choice but to surrender critical revenue to Apple. The iPhone giant maintains the fee essentially funds the entire app ecosystem, and Cook at one point Wednesday told lawmakers the company has not raised its rates since it opened the store in 2008.

But lawmakers later produced a document showing one of Apple's executives, Eddy Cue, in 2011 had proposed requiring developers to pay more. They posted it online, while in the hearing, Cook generally stressed Apple had no desire to harm developers.

"We do not retaliate or bully people," he said. "It is strongly against our company culture."

Below are updates from the Congressional hearing.

July 29, 2020 at 6:55 PM EDT

The Post's Robin Givhan's take on the virtual hearing

At Wednesday's hearing, subcommittee members gave soliloquies while the CEOs sometimes could barely get a word in — even when the audio wasn't delayed.

The CEOs of the biggest tech companies in the United States spoke of their companies' modest beginnings, of achieving the American Dream and of the unique wonders of capitalism. Because they didn't march into the wood-paneled committee room with its high ceiling and leather chairs where they would have been swarmed by a phalanx of photographers and trailed by a clutch of attorneys, the men seemed less consequential than they actually are.

Technology, which has brought them outsize wealth and influence, had the effect of making them appear small and, ultimately, more human. Each was just a lone man in a room talking into a microphone and dealing with audio delay. And even a tech wizard like Jeff Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, sometimes forgot to unmute himself.

Google's Sundar Pichai was the sleekest of the lot in both appearance and setting. He wore an elegant charcoal suit and matching tie and was well-framed behind a desk that sat in an office that looked like it had been inspired by the West Elm catalogue. He sat with perfect posture, and when he spoke, his gestures were emotive but not frantic. He tended to steeple his fingers as he attempted to answer the House Judiciary subcommittee members' meandering questions that teetered between privacy issues and conspiracy theories.

Amazon's Bezos sat in front of a wall of honey-colored shelves with a distinctly mid-century modern feel; Tim Cook of Apple was backed by a low row of green house plants; and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg had a plain white background that glowed so brightly it looked as though he were delivering his testimony from the interior of a nuclear reactor.

By Robin Givhan

July 29, 2020 at 6:46 PM EDT

Cicilline accuses all four tech companies of having monopoly power

Cicilline said that all four companies that testified today are monopolies at the conclusion of a more than five-hour grilling of some of the top technology titans.

"These companies, as they exist today, all have monopoly power," he said during closing statements. "Some need to be broken up."

He also suggested that all of the companies need to be regulated. He compared the four chief executives who testified to the modern day versions of Gilded Age tycoons.

"Their control of the marketplace allows them to do whatever it takes to crush independent businesses and expand their own power."

While speaking to reporters after the hearing, he added that the companies are clearly violating antitrust laws. He said Wednesday's hearing confirmed evidence that the committee collected in its year-long probe into the companies' power.

"They're engaged in behavior that's anticompetitive, which favors their own products and services, which monetizes and weaponizes data, which compromises the privacy of their users and which creates a competitive disadvantage for companies attempting to enter the marketplace," he said.

By Cat Zakrzewski

July 29, 2020 at 6:36 PM EDT

Cook denies copying apps on its platform

In response to a question from Neguse, Cook denied that Apple uses data on its App Store to create competing apps of its own. "We would never steal somebody's IP," Cook said.

Apple continues the practice to this day, something generally accepted as normal in the software development industry. As Steve Jobs once said: "We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas."

By Reed Albergotti

July 29, 2020 at 6:33 PM EDT

Essential items, worker safety trumped profitability at pandemic's start, Bezos testifies

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos said profits were not as important as getting essential items to customers and protecting its warehouse workers as the coronavirus first raged.

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.) questioned Bezos on Amazon's decision to delay shipment of nonessential products in March, noting that the committee heard from "several employees" that Amazon continued to ship nonessential items like hammocks, fish tanks and pool floaties. She asked Bezos if the company designated Amazon devices such as its Fire TV, Echo speakers and Ring doorbell as essential.

Bezos said he didn't know the answer.

"What I can tell you is that we had there was no playbook for this," Bezos said. "We moved very quickly. Demand went through the roof, was like having a holiday selling season but in March, and we had to make a lot of decisions very rapidly."

And Bezos said profit wasn't a factor in making those decisions.

"We were working to achieve two objectives. One was to get essential products to customers, and the second was to keep our front-line employees safe," Bezos said. "We were not focused on profitability that time."

By Jay Greene

July 29, 2020 at 6:29 PM EDT

'Of course we care' about advertisers, Zuckerberg says of the advertising boycott

In an exchange with Jayapal, Zuckerberg appeared to grow a bit frustrated with a question about the advertiser boycott Facebook is facing. The lawmaker pointed to a report that Zuckerberg was flippant about the impact of the boycott. She asked whether he was saying he didn't care about it.

"No, Congresswoman, of course we care" about the advertising boycott, he said. But he said the company would not let advertisers dictate the company's content policies.

Facebook has conceded to some of the demands of the boycott, including hiring a high-level senior executive dedicated to civil rights, but the organizers say the company has much further to go.

By Elizabeth Dwoskin

July 29, 2020 at 6:18 PM EDT

Pichai says he doesn't know how big Google's ad share is

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) dug into Google's advertising business during the last round of questions in the hearing, kicking it off by asking CEO Pichai what share of the ad exchange market Google controls.

Pichai said he didn't know.

"I'm not exactly familiar, I've seen various reports, but you know, we are a popular choice," he said.

Jayapal went on to show a report outlining how Google controls a majority of both sell-side advertising and buy-side. Lawmakers have expressed concern about Google's dominance in the ad market because the company controls a platform for advertisers to buy ad space as well as many of the websites where those ads appear.

By Rachel Lerman

July 29, 2020 at 6:01 PM EDT

Cook denies 'profiteering' during pandemic

Congressman Nadler accused Cook of profiteering as the novel coronavirus spread around the world by forcing commissions on companies that have had to switch to digital models during a pandemic that has forced much of the business world online.

Cook denied that accusation. "We would never do that," Cook said, acknowledging two cases in which companies have complained about Apple's behavior. Cook said Apple was working with those companies on a solution.

Nadler accused Apple of changing its policies about commissions, or changing the way it enforces those policies, to extract more revenue out of developers. He pointed to the email app Hey, which has complained publicly and testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee, about Apple's alleged behavior.

But Cook denied any change in policy or behavior. He acknowledged that Apple may have made errors in the past due to the high number of apps submitted to the store.

By Reed Albergotti

July 29, 2020 at 5:58 PM EDT

Zuckerberg said it is 'well documented' the Chinese government steals from U.S. companies

Three of the tech CEOs walked carefully around a question from Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.), but Facebook's Zuckerberg addressed it head on.

"Do you believe the Chinese government steals technology from U.S. companies?" Steube asked.

Pichai and Cook both said first they were not aware of the Chinese government stealing from Google and Apple, respectively. Zuckerberg spoke more generally.

"I think it's well documented that the Chinese government steals technology from U.S. companies," the Facebook CEO said.

Several lawmaker questions have revolved around concerns about Chinese ties, especially targeted toward Google CEO Pichai. The U.S. government is facing escalating tensions with the country, and tech has often been caught in the center because of manufacturing plants and business partners in China.

The question also revealed a downfall of holding the hearing virtually. When it was Bezos's turn to answer, his words were silent.

"Mr. Bezos, I believe you're on mute," the lawmakers reminded him.

By Rachel Lerman

July 29, 2020 at 5:54 PM EDT

Facebook is accused of digital 'surveillance' against its competitors

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) asked Zuckerberg about tools that Facebook uses to get insights into the competition.

He mentioned Facebook's 2013 acquisition of an Israeli security app called Onavo Protect, which the company used to gain visibility into how consumers were using many apps that were installed on their phones. That helped Facebook monitor potential competitors and pounce on fast-growing new businesses.

The use of Onavo led to the acquisition of WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014, The Washington Post reported.

The Onavo service offered consumers a virtual private network that disguises the traffic of smartphone users as they browse the Internet and use apps. But while it advertised itself to users as a way to "keep you and your data safe," Facebook was able, on the back end, to glean detailed insights about what consumers were doing when they were not using Facebook's own apps, which include Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram.

Moreover, Onavo's terms of service did not make it clear to users that the app enabled its owner, Facebook, to collect their information for that purpose, and the fact that the app was owned by Facebook was not easily findable on the terms of service, The Post previously reported.

Before Facebook acquired Onavo, the venture capital community used it to monitor fast-growing companies that might be worth investing in. Facebook shut down that access when it bought Onavo, which it shuttered last year.

Johnson asked Zuckerberg about acquiring WhatsApp. Zuckerberg said there were many reasons for the acquisition.

By Elizabeth Dwoskin

July 29, 2020 at 5:35 PM EDT

Cook confronted with internal document in Screen Time controversy

Apple executive Phil Schiller, who oversees the Apple App Store, promoted Apple's Screen Time app to customers who complained to the company about the removal competing services, according to a document cited by Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.).

Cook again defended the company's decision to remove kids' tracking apps, claiming it was for privacy reasons, but McBath questioned the timing. "If Apple wasn't attempting to harm competitors and help its own app, why did Phil Schiller promote the Screen Time app to customers who complained about the removal?" she asked.

McBath pointed out that the apps were allowed back on the platform six months later. "This is fundamentally unfair," she said. Apple "stifles the innovation that is the lifeblood of our economy," she said.

By Reed Albergotti

July 29, 2020 at 5:32 PM EDT

Zuckerberg is accused of bias against conservatives over and over

Zuckerberg was asked by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) about specific incidents in which the lawmaker alleged that Facebook executives may have used the service to downplay conservative viewpoints.

He cited an investigation by the right-leaning Project Veritas organization that showed interviews with content moderators for Facebook who claimed that the company censored content from people who wear "Make America Great Again" hats.

Zuckerberg said that the company aims "to be a platform for all ideas" and that he does not want Facebook to be ideologically biased.

Gaetz asked whether content moderators and other employees were ever fired because of their policies, and specifically why right-leaning Palmer Luckey, a top executive and creator of the Oculus virtual reality headset, was fired.

The Wall Street Journal reported that his politics were a reason for his being pushed out. Gaetz also referenced documents that he claimed suggested that Luckey was instructed to suppress his political beliefs.

Zuckerberg said that he would not comment on Luckey but that if anyone was fired for political beliefs it would be inappropriate and that mistakes happen in large companies.

By Elizabeth Dwoskin

July 29, 2020 at 5:25 PM EDT

Bezos pushes back on assertion that e-commerce is a relevant market to investigate

Bezos turned to a frequent refrain from company executives that Congress should look broadly at all retail sales as it considers antitrust regulation.

That's important because it diffuses Amazon's power in retail sales. The company accounts for roughly 4 percent of overall retail sales in the United States, a market that includes restaurants, bars and gas stations, noted Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.). The lawmaker suggested a better market to focus on is U.S. e-commerce sales, a market in which Amazon holds a roughly 38 percent share.

Bezos pushed back on the distinction.

"I don't accept that e-commerce is a different market, but it is a different channel," Bezos said.

Defining the market so broadly, of course, means Amazon can't be so powerful to merit antitrust action.

By Jay Greene

July 29, 2020 at 5:17 PM EDT

Pichai says YouTube is 'investing rigorously' in child safety

Pichai said Google is "investing rigorously" in child safety in response to concerns that the company's streaming site YouTube improperly collected personal information about children.

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.) asked Pichai if the company is working with advertisers to target ads to children on YouTube. The federal government severely restricts the amount of information Internet companies can collect on minors.

Google reached a $170 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission last year after an investigation into allegations YouTube violated federal data privacy laws about children.

"This is an area we take it very seriously. I am a parent, too," Pichai told Congress on Wednesday.

Scanlon also asked Pichai about negotiations to buy YouTube in 2006, but Pichai sidestepped most of the questions by noting it was before he took over as CEO in 2015.

By Rachel Lerman

July 29, 2020 at 5:12 PM EDT

Cook grilled on getting rid of competitors to its in-house kid tracker

Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) also grilled Cook over its much-criticized decision to get rid of apps that allow parents to track their children.

Cook said the apps "placed kids' data at risk, so we were worried about the safety of kids," he said. That's because the apps used "mobile device management," a corporate tool for tracking employees.

Demings pointed out that Apple allowed an app created by the government of Saudi Arabia to remain on the app store. "Apple kicks one out that was helping parents but keeps the one that is owned by a powerful government," Demings pointed out.

Cook said he wasn't aware of the Saudi app but offered to get back to her office.

Demings pointed out that Apple's removal of the kids trackers coincided with the launch of its own competing technology, called Screen Time.

By Reed Albergotti

Primary election August 4 - cedarspringspost

Posted: 30 Jul 2020 05:14 PM PDT

Posted on 30 July 2020.

By Judy Reed

There are a lot of candidates in this year's primary elections, most of which you will see below. We have tried to profile most races in our area. We did not do a in depth profile of those who are uncontested.

Representative in Congress – Third District

There are several candidates running for the seat currently held by Justin Amash:

Lynn Afendoulis (R): Lynn Afendoulis is a successful businesswoman, a community leader, a first-time state representative, and a mom who has called West Michigan "home" all her life. She is running for Congress to protect the values that allowed her, a second-generation American, to pave her path in work and life, and to seek election to Congress. She currently represents Michigan's 73rd District. Read more about her at

Joe Farrington (R): I am Joe Farrington, I live in the tiny Village of Lyons, in Ionia County, with my wife and 2 year old son. Originally from the east side of Michigan, I was raised to know that anything I want out of life, I'll have to earn. As a working class republican, I believe in the abolishment of unnecessary regulations, gratuitous taxation, and the preservation of the 2nd Amendment. We work long-hard hours with calloused hands, we beat our bodies to exhaustion, we hunt, fish, spend time with our families, and we enjoy a good burger and ice-cold beer. We deserve a lot more than an absentee congressman with a perfect record for looking out for his best interests. Read more about him at

Peter Meijer (R): Peter Meijer, the grandson of the late supermarket magnate Fred Meijer, says he is a conservative veteran running for Congress to bring strong, stable, and effective representation to West Michigan. He deployed to Iraq in 2010, and after returning from in 2011 and finishing college, Peter became active once more in the veterans community, continuing to serve on the board of directors of Student Veterans of America and joining Team Rubicon, a veteran-based disaster response organization. With Team Rubicon, Peter led humanitarian efforts in South Sudan dealing with a refugee crisis, and also led operations in New York after Superstorm Sandy, Oklahoma after a series of devastating tornadoes, and in the Philippines after Super Typhoon Yolanda. You can read more about him and his stance on issues at

Thomas Norton (R): Tom Norton says he is an America-First, Conservative Veteran running for Congress as a republican in Michigan's Third District. Tom believes in the American dream because he's lived it. He learned to value hard work while growing up on his family's farm and he used those values to go from infantry soldier to small business owner and top salesman for a national company. 

A veteran of the Afghan War, Tom returned home and was inspired to run for public office in the Village of Sand Lake. As a Village Trustee and then Village President, Tom secured funding for infrastructure improvements that built better roads and provided quality drinking water, while also balancing the budget. His time there was not without controversy, however. His own board asked him to resign a month before his term ended, which he refused to do.

Emily Rafi (R): Emily Rafi 40, was born and raised in Michigan's 3rd district 2005, she earned a law degree J.D. from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, California. Her broad legal education and 12 years of experience practicing Federal Law prepared her with the background needed to comprehend and draft legislation on the Federal issues regularly legislated in Congress. She performed substantial work for banks in the Small Business Association (SBA) lending industry, and understands the challenges faced by small businesses trying to compete and succeed in U.S. global markets. Her support for President Trump and democratic principles is so strong that it compelled her to exit the Democratic Party mid-way through this election cycle and run instead as a candidate for the Republican Party. Read more about her at

Hillary Scholten is running as a Democrat and is unopposed. Read about her at

State representative 73rd District

There are three Republican candidates vying for the seat in the 73rd district currently held by Lynn Afendoulis.

John Inhuslen (R): I am a small business owner, proud husband and father of three children. I live in East Grand Rapids and have been a both a community and political leader in West Michigan. I am a graduate of Michigan State University and the Michigan State University School of Law. I love West Michigan and am proud to raise my family here. 

Politically, as Kent GOP Chairman, I played an integral role as a Michigan Finance Chair for the Trump Presidential campaign, as well as working with the Presidential Transition Team and Presidential Inaugural Committee.  In the 2018 cycle, I served as Co-Chair to John James' Senate Campaign and have continued that role for the 2020 cycle. In the community I have served on leadership of multiple boards and foundations. 

If elected, I will fight for West Michigan values. Special interests have spent tens of thousands of dollars in this race to defeat me because I will represent the interests of 73rd District constituents – not Lansing's. I will make sure our economy and schools open, I will support small business and get people back to work. I will. Ensure our students are receiving a world class education and protect life. For more info:

Robert Regan (R): Robert 'RJ' Regan (52) presently lives in Grand Rapids Township. He moved to East Grand Rapids from Lansing in 2000. RJ is the VP of Business Development for Grey Cap Transportation LLC, a large truck logistics company.  He has four adult children, a son and three daughters, ages 26 to 20.

RJ is running for State Representative in the 73rd district. He is in his third attempt at taking the State Representative seat. With no political experience, Regan ran in 2014 and came in second place.  Many were shocked by this, as Regan ran on a small name with no political or inside connections. Robert Regan is running his campaign on constitutional conservative values. Regan believes in the sanctity of life, protecting constitutional rights (such as the first and second amendment), advocating for small businesses and making sure West Michigan is heard. To learn more visit

Bryan Posthumus (R): We sent an email but did not receive a response from Mr. Posthumus.

Bill Saxton is running uncontested as a Democrat.

State representative 74th District

Three Republican candidates are vying for the 74th District seat, including incumbent Mark Huizenga.

Mark Huizenga (R): I currently serve as the State Representative for Western Kent County. I grew up on a small farm in Walker, Michigan and I currently live in Walker with my wife Kris, who I have been married to for 24 years. We are the proud parents of 3 children, Elaina (23), Oliva (22), and Blake (18). I currently own and operate 2 small business and have deep experience in both the accounting field and the healthcare industry. I have also been involved in public service for the last 15 years. We are facing very difficult challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on our everyday lives. I am committed to working towards restoring both economic and social norms to pre-COVID19 status. While it is a fact that we will never be fully rid of COVID-19, lawmakers in Lansing must begin to the focus on the future of what living with the threat of COVID -19 look like. We have no choice but do everything we can to restart our economy and ensure Michigan families have access to employment as they seek to provide for their families. I will do everything I can to protect public health while working towards restarting Michigan and holding government accountable to the people it represents. For more info visit

Brock Story (R):  I'm 22 and I live in Tyrone township in Kent City. I grew up in Newaygo by the Hardy Dam. I have lived in the 74th district for 4 years, I am a warehouse employee at Williams Distributing in GR attending online college at Baker for a bachelors in accounting. I have a wife and hopefully we will have a child soon. As representative my first goal would be to sponsor legislation which moves our state back to sound money that won't be manipulated by the federal reserve. I would like to be a part of massive deregulation allowing the free market of ideas to thrive again in our state. The main thing I would like to accomplish though would be to bring liberty to the table and to shake up the legislature which has become complacent in the destruction of our state and our liberty. I have a political page on Facebook @brockstoryforstaterep.

Meagan Hintz (R): We sent an email but did not hear back from Ms. Hintz.

Kent County Sheriff

Two candidates are running for Kent County Sheriff.

Michelle LaJoye-Young (R): Michelle LaJoye-Young is the current Sheriff. She has served Kent County for over 30 years. She has worked for the Sheriff's Office since 1989 in various roles within Corrections, Patrol, Communications, Support Services and as the Chief Deputy, Undersheriff, and now the Sheriff. Michelle has focused on developing a Strategic plan with an eye for ensuring peoples' needs are being met where and when they have them.  A key component to this is a focus on community outreach, transparency and planning services around the changing needs of our community. She was recognized as one of Grand Rapids Business Journal's 2020 Top 50 Influential Women in Business Leaders and Top 200 Business Leaders in West Michigan. She has been inducted to the Michigan State University Criminal Justice Wall of Fame and in 2018, she was recognized statewide as the Interoperability Person of the Year by the Michigan Governor for her communication involvement and innovation. LaJoye-Young is a compassionate, driven woman who strives to be a guardian to every person in our community.  She is blessed to be the mother of two wonderful young men and works to lead a balanced, purpose driven life.

What does she hope to accomplish if elected?:  "Soon after being appointed to Sheriff in 2018 my staff and I started a strategic planning process to guide our priorities over the next five years.  As a result of that process we have published this plan on my website in its entirety.  Our efforts will continued to be focused into four main priorities: public safety, community engagement, effective and efficient services, and resource sustainability." She said that includes ensuring they have sufficient staff to meet the needs of the community, being transparent and available to the community, spending public dollars efficiently, and ensuring her staff's emotional, mental, and physical safety. Read the details on her website at

Marc Burns (D):  My name is Marc Burns. I am a lifelong resident of Kent County.  I have been in law enforcement for 30 years. I live here in Kent County with my wife and have raised three children with two in high school and one who has graduated. Our children enjoy sports and volunteering their time to several area causes and church functions.  I am a big fan of baseball and soccer and I have been a volunteer baseball coach since the age of 15. This area and Kent County has been a wonderful place for my family, and I want to preserve and enhance what we have here in West Michigan.  I have dedicated my life to public service and my team of highly respected and experienced officers will diligently protect and serve ALL members of this great County. I have respectfully and faithfully served the citizens of this County for over 30 years as a Deputy Sheriff, Supervisor, and Command Officer at the Kent County Sheriff's Department. I am a Treasury Agent and enforcement officer and I investigate fraud for those who look to take advantage of Michigan taxpayers. I want to bring all of my experience to the Office of Sheriff and to have open and meaningful relationships with communities. 

What does he hope to accomplish if elected? It is my goal to bring back transparency, accountability and integrity to the Office of Sheriff. The Sheriff's Department needs strong leadership and clear direction during these challenging times. I plan to create an Office of Professional Standards in order to integrate and oversee recruitment and hiring, staff training, and employee misconduct. I will propose the allocation of funds to purchase body cameras for all law enforcement officers. I will create a fair and equitable process for advancement within the Department. My new administration will bring needed change and a commitment to community input and dialogue. Citizens deserve to feel safe and have honest leadership from their elected enforcement officials, which is my priority. Please visit and support my team at

Kent County Clerk and Register of Deeds

Two are running for Kent County Clerk.

Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R): I'm Lisa Posthumus Lyons (40), Kent County's Clerk / Register of Deeds, a position I've held since 2017. I'm proud to call Kent County my home, and am so grateful for the opportunity to serve my community. As a lifelong resident of Kent County, specifically Alto in Bowne Township, where my husband and I are now raising our four children, I have deep appreciation for the values that make Kent County a wonderful place to live, work, and serve. I've served as Clerk/Register since being elected in 2016. Prior to serving the county, I served in the Michigan House of Representatives, representing the 86th District (portions of Kent and Ionia Counties) from 2011-2016. In the House, I served as chair of the House Education, and House Elections & Ethics Committee. 

What does she hope to accomplish if you are elected? I am running for re-election as Kent County Clerk / Register to continue providing a strong voice for West Michigan, and to build upon my record of providing efficient, effective, and transparent leadership to Kent County residents.My office is diverse: Clerk (vital records, elections), Register of Deeds (property records), and Clerk of the Circuit Court (court records). Rapidly changing technology and legislation is the common trend in each department. During my first term we've modernized our vital & land records recording technology, as well as implemented new campaign finance management software for Elections. Next will be the implementation of e-filing of court records. The recent COVID-19 shutdown proved the essential need for citizens to be able to remotely interact with the county, and I'm committed to making that process easier for the end-user. 

My commitment to the voters, as their elected Clerk/Register, has been to run an efficient, effective, and transparent office, one that is responsive to needs, and feedback of the residents of Kent County.  In addition to serving in a public-facing office, where I'm able to interact one-on-one with the Kent County residents every day, I'm committed to using both traditional and new media for community outreach, making my office both accessible and responsive. I welcome any and all feedback, whenever the public is utilizing the services of one of our offices, or by phone, email, or social media. For more info visit her Website:; or Facebook:

Devin Ortega (D): We did not receive a response from this candidate.

Kent County Treasurer

Three candidates are running for Kent County Treasurer. 

Peter MacGregor (R):  – I am currently the State Senator for the 28th Senate District, which includes the surrounding areas of Cedar Springs, Rockford, and Sparta, as well as the cities of Walker, Grandville, and Wyoming. I have lived in Kent County since 1990 and in the Cannon Township since 1996.  Prior to running for the state legislature, I owned a small business for 14 years selling, installing, and servicing indoor air quality systems.  I have been elected as a township trustee, township supervisor, twice as a state representative and I am currently in my second term as a state senator.  I have a passion to serve the community I love, but due to term limits I cannot run for state office again.  I want to continue to serve this community, where I have run a successful business and raised a family by running for Kent County Treasurer this November.  I have been happily married for 29 years to my wife Christine and together we have raised three sons in the Rockford area.  

I am excited about this new prospect. I believe that my experience as the senate appropriations subcommittee Chair of the state health and human services budget has given me a firm footing to manage the county treasurer's office. As a previous small business owner, managing payroll and staff is something I am familiar with. And as a former township supervisor, I learned the intricacies of local government. I am confident in my experience. 

It is important that we work to protect Kent County's Triple-A (AAA) bond rating as we move into these unchartered financial waters. By protecting our bond rating, we can keep taxes low.  I am committed to the fiscal responsibility I have demonstrated as a legislator, local elected official, and business owner.  Private property rights are extremely critical to maintain in the county treasurer position as well. Please contact or follow my campaign through * Facebook – @MacGregor for Treasurer * Instagram – VoteMacGregor  * Twitter – @SenMacGregor *

Jose Reyna (D): I'm José L Reyna and I have lived in Ada for over 13 years.  I'm 60 years old and am originally from Corpus Christi, Texas. My family moved to Grand Rapids when I was a child and I grew up in Grand Rapids. I have lived in the Grand Rapids/West Michigan area for 50 years.  I am currently an independent consultant and provide services in the areas of organizational development and finance.  

My professional history includes the honor of serving as a Deputy Sheriff with the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department, Human Relations/EEO Director for the City of Holland.  I worked for the City of Grand Rapids and served in the positions of Special Events Coordinator, Assistant to the City Manager, and Fiscal Services Manager/Purchasing Agent. I also served as Director for Community Health Programs for Spectrum Health Systems.

I attended Grand Rapids Public Schools and graduated from Grand Rapids Central High.  I earned a BA in Sociology from Grand Valley State University and earned a Masters in Public Administration from Western Michigan University. I have two children who attend Forest Hills Northern Schools. 

I have 30 years of professional experience in the public sector and have been responsible to develop and manage departmental and city-wide budgets.  I have also been responsible to oversee the City of Grand Rapids' Assessor's Office and Purchasing Department.  It is my goal to use my experience of strong financial management in the role of Kent County Treasurer.  Specifically, I have the following three priorities: Maintain Kent County's Strong Financial Position; increase civic engagement and government transparency; and improve services.

For more info, visit his website at or his FaceBook: José L Reyna for Kent County Treasurer.

Beth White (D): I grew up one of nine children in the blue-collar Detroit suburb of Inkster. The daughter of a sheet metal worker and a homemaker, I learned early lessons about the value of hard work and integrity, as well as the importance of education. I moved to Grand Rapids in 2002, and have lived in the South Hill neighborhood of Grand Rapids for 15 years. I served as a municipal attorney at both the City and County level for almost 20 years, giving advice to local Assessors, Treasurers, and government CFO's. For 15 of those years, I served as an Assistant City Attorney and Deputy City Attorney in Grand Rapids. I was counsel to the City's pension board, which managed over 800 million dollars in pension assets. I also served on the City's retiree health care oversight committee.  I've taught a number of graduate-level classes at GVSU, and also served as Corporation Counsel in Kalamazoo County.  

 As a municipal attorney serving in West Michigan, I have observed how the policies and practices set by the County Treasurer's office measurably impact the citizens, and the stability of the tax base. I understand how counties can leverage the policies of the Treasurer's office responsibly and legally, in order to support the economic viability of the county, and help those most at risk of tax foreclosure.  When people are displaced, the burden on the County's social services increases, and the stress on neighborhoods increases as well.  The law allows for payment plans, and provides an exemption from property taxes for those in poverty, as well as disabled vets.  Nobody should face foreclosure when they would have been entitled to an exemption from taxes. 

 I married my husband Paul four years ago.  We both waited until age 50 to get married, although we originally met in kindergarten. It›s a real "When Harry Met Sally" kind of story!

 As Treasurer, I will lead with three priorities:  1.) Providing responsible fiscal management and stewardship of public funds; 2.) Minimizing the number of tax foreclosures for owner-occupied properties; and 3.) Leading with honesty, transparency and accountability. Fpr more info, visit

Kent County Drain Commissioner

Two candidates are running for Kent County Drain Commissioner.

Ken Yonker (R): My name is Ken Yonker and I am running for re-election as the Kent County Drain Commissioner. It has been an honor serving Kent County these past 4 yrs. We have been able to finalize many projects, but there are more to complete.

I am 63 yrs. old, born and raised in Kent County and I currently live in Gaines twp. with my wife Amy. We have 3 sons and 1 daughter; 3 grandsons and 3 granddaughters; 4 horses; and 1 dog, all of whom reside in Kent County.

I graduated from Michigan State University where I majored in horticultural studies which included soil sciences, soil hydrology, natural ecological systems and plant identification, all which has applications to working with wet lands, flood plains and natural processes for water purification, which is one of the functions for the Drain Commission. I worked as a foreman for a large Excavating company in Kentwood and was the owner and operator of Yonker's Landscaping Inc. for 28 yrs. before  I sold it. (It gave me) life experiences which taught me the skills that I have been able to apply to the Drain Commission position.

In 2010 I was elected to Michigan State House of Representatives and when I termed out, I was elected as the Drain Commissioner.  

Through my years as a private business owner and as a public servant I have built healthy relationships with the departments of the DNR and EGLE (formerly DEQ). These relationships are critical when working on drain projects to get them done timely and with the results we need for a healthy drain system. 

To learn more about me go to my website at

Elaine Isley (D): I moved to West Michigan in 1996 when I accepted my first full-time legal job after attending law school in Detroit. I grew up in Maryland, just outside of Washington, DC, and I go back to visit my family whenever I can.I now live in Grand Rapids Township with my husband, Paul, and my 9 year old son, Terrance. We have three rescued animals – Rex is an almost-2-year-old American Foxhound mix, and Jellybean and Slash are tabby cats.

After practicing law for several years, I shifted to environmental policy and water resource management. I've spent the last 15 years in this field. My current position is Director of Water Programs at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, and I spent several years at Grand Valley State University's Water Resources Institute.

The Drain Commissioner is responsible for administering laws involving flood protection, stormwater management, and soil erosion for the protection of Michigan's water resources. As we see more severe storms more often, we will need to implement better and more innovative practices to help manage the runoff to our local rivers, lakes, and steams. Practices that more closely mimic nature should be the default, unless there are engineering or long-term economic issues that make implementation unreasonable. Public education is a key component of this work, and I would continue to collaborate with other organizations and community groups in West Michigan to share resources and avoid duplication of efforts so that more audiences can be reached. For more info:

Kent County Commission 3rd District

Two candidates are running for Kent County Commissioner in the 3rd District. 

Roger Morgan (R): We did not receive a response from this candidate.

G. Scott Schuiling (D): We did not receive a response from this candidate.

Algoma Township Treasurer

Two candidates are running for Algoma Township treasurer.

Kristina Bitely-Abrigo (R): Current Treasurer, Kristina Bitely-Abrigo, grew up in Algoma Township next to her grandparents, Gordon & Eileen Bitely. She was raised in faith by her parents Mike & Peggy Bitely to love and respect God and family. That love brought Kristina and her husband, John, back to Michigan in the spring of 2019 after seven years of suburban living in South Texas.  While there, Kristina realized the importance of balancing responsible land development and preservation of the freedoms and benefits associated with rural living.Kristina was hired as Deputy Treasurer in June 2019 and appointed Treasurer in February 2020. Prior to that Kristina was an Office Manager for a church in Corpus Christi, TX.  Before leaving MI, Kristina operated a state licensed in home daycare in Sparta, MI.  Kristina and her husband have 5 children, 4 grandchildren and reside in the home Kristina grew up in.

Mary Donnelly-Milligan (R): We did not receive a response from this candidate.

Algoma Township Trustees

Seven candidates are running for four trustee positions in Algoma Township. We received emails back from three of them.

Gordon Pickerd (R): Is running for reelection. He is a 25 year resident of Algoma Twp. He is retired, and an avid volunteer, woodworker and reader. His military experience includes Marine Air Wing ( El. Toro Calif.) 3rd Marine Division (Okinawa); and Marine Barracks (Key West, Florida). He is an active board member, and likes helping people and organizations move forward in a positive manner.

Bob Wilson (R): Incumbent Robert (Bob) Wilson, 72, and wife, Ann have resided in Algoma Township for 38 years. They are both transplanted Hoosiers but, by now, really count themselves as true Michiganders. They have a son, daughter-in-law and two wonderful granddaughters whom live outside Seattle. Bob has served Algoma Township in varying roles for approximately 32 years; from Chairman and/or Member of the Planning Commission, original member of the Parks & Recreation Committee, Zoning Board of Appeals, and presently is a Board Trustee. While Chairing the Planning Commission, he led 2 separate updates to the

Township Master Plan. While on the Parks and Recreation Committee, he facilitated the design of the Algoma Sports Park. As a Trustee, he has directly assisted with the development of a more stable and fiscally responsible sewer service for Camp Lake. He drove the completion of the new township digital sign which will improve communication with Algoma citizens.

If elected to another term as Trustee, Bob will continue to focus on providing the maximum services to Algoma residents within a shrinking tax rate. "Growth of Algoma through development will continue. We have to manage it through the vision within the Master Plan as described by its citizens. A significant element of that plan is broadband access to all residents. We have all recognized the role internet access plays while being stay-at-home. I will focus and find ways to promote that service throughout Algoma Township."

Steve Rikkers (R):  I am 52 years old and live in Algoma Township, am originally from East Grand Rapids and have lived in Algoma Township since 2015. Employed by Allied Mineral Products as an outside technical salesman working predominately in the metal casting industry. Married for 25 years and have two boys (John and Matthew) ages 21 and 17.

If elected, I hope to bring a fiscally responsible approach to spending; update short and long term strategic planning; common sense enforcement of laws; and more community involvement through new voices.

Other candidates running who did not return information include Elizabeth Johnson, Eric Schoof, and Tom Ungrey. Also running is James Powell, who did not provide an email address.

Courtland Township trustees

There are five candidates running for four positions. Only three returned our emails.

Mary Ann Andersen (R): I am a retired teacher. I have lived in Courtland Township for 45 years.  I currently serve on the Planning Commission, I have served on the ZBA, Sewer Advisory Board, Sesquicentennial Co Chair in 1989,  RACE representative, and Clerk for 10 years.  I enjoy being involved and I have enjoyed serving the residents of Courtland Township.

Terry Bartels: I am a lifelong resident of Michigan and have lived in Kent County for the past 23 years. I am a husband, father, grandfather and a man of faith. During my 40 years as a Civil engineer,  I have worked with well over 100 townships throughout the lower peninsula.  During this time, I have gained a good perspective as to what makes a board function well.  I have previously served on various church boards, a city planning commission, homeowner's association boards and as Chaplain to the Lions Club. I am currently serving as a trustee on the Courtland Township Board.  I have used my experience as a civil engineer to provide insight and guidance for expansion of the township playground, development of a walking trail, and developed plans for drainage improvements at the township office. I am dedicated to maintaining a great quality of life in Courtland Township, committed to preserving the township's rural character by promoting responsible growth, and I support the use of local businesses whenever possible.

Sandy Frandsen (R): (No photo provided) My name is Sandra Frandsen. I am seeking election for a Trustee position on the governmental board for Courtland Township. I have been fortunate to have been born and raised in our great township! I have lived here for sixty years and raised my three children Cory, Andrea and Austin here as well. I was raised on a dairy farm and have deep roots and respect for the rural agricultural component of our township! I have served as our township Clerk for three years and would like the opportunity to continue serving our residents and my community. My desire is to serve our township with great integrity and respect for all!

Candidates Kimberly McIntyre and Michele Mojzuk did not return our email.

Nelson Township Supervisor

Two candidates are running for Nelson Township Supervisor.

Robyn Britton (R): Incumbent Robyn Britton is running for reelection as Supervisor. She is also a residential home planner and designer with an education in real estate and accounting. She's been a business owner for nearly 32 years in Nelson Township; served 4 years as Township Supervisor, Planning Commission 4 yrs., and served on the Board of Review and Community Grant Advisory Board. 

Robyn said she is running again because the last 4 years hasn't been long enough to complete everything she's wanted to do. "Having a solid presence in the Township has strengthened our relationship with Kent County in accomplishing a number of the township goals from road repair to funding. As a result, the township has seen $ 4.5 million dollars in primary and local road funding. On top of that, my residents have a voice now. Office hours are very important and all board members have to have a full understanding on what is going on in their community to make sound decisions.

Funding – With Covid-19 we know that our State Revenue will be reduced. We need to make sure we are fiscally sound. My first priority is to Nelson Township taxpayers and making sure they have a sound budget. During my term I have been able to get preservation projects funded keeping our costs to a minimum. However, as Grand Rapids continues to grow, we face many challenges when it comes to land development. As Nelson Township Supervisor, I would never support building a Dollar General in a cornfield. That is why we develop and maintain zoning ordinances and a township master plan. By respecting the community's input, we can maintain and build our community without losing our most valuable asset, our Farmland and Country feel.

I've been endorsed by my Township Clerk, Treasurer and Trustee, a working relationship is vital to a Township's success.  Not only have I been endorsed by most of the Township Board, 4 People running for the board position on the Village of Sand Lake have also endorsed me. My goal is to have our communities come together in prosperity. For more info visit her Campaign Facebook Page http://Re-ElectRobynBrittonNelsonTownshipSupervisor.

Glen Armstrong (R): I've lived in Nelson Township my whole life (65 years). I'm employed as an Electronics Engineer for GE Aviation, where I work on the "black boxes" for aircraft. I am married with three grown children and I will be retiring after this year. I have served Nelson Township for the last 30 years, as a Planning commissioner, trustee, and Supervisor.

I have always felt that decisions on the Township Board should be based on what is best for the residents of the township and not just the elected officials. If elected I will continue to make decisions using logic and common sense, not animosity.

Nelson Township trustees

There are five people running for two Nelson Township trustee positions. Only three returned our emails requesting info.

Curtis DeJong (R): I was raised in Cedar Springs on the corner of Church and Second Street. I had the privilege of marrying my best friend Katie in 2010 at First Baptist Church in Cedar Springs. We have been blessed with 2 children, Cameron (6) and Natalie (3). Along with 2 dogs and 1 cat as our fur companions. Shortly before our daughter's birth we unexpectedly lost Katie's mother to cancer. As a result, we sold our home in Sand Lake and moved in with her father on 18 mile road across from East Nelson Church. This has been a blessing for us all.

I earned a Bachelor's degree with honors, in Elementary Education along with minors in Language Arts, Social Studies and Child Development at Ferris University. In 2017 I earned my Master's degrees with high honors in Education Administration.

During the final semesters of my undergraduate studies, I taught pre school and created a kindergarten readiness program. After completing College, I became the director of Head Start for Southern Newaygo county. Then, 7 years ago, I accepted my current position at Greenville Public Schools as a proud second-grade educator. I also serve on the District Leadership team, and Building Leadership Team for Cedar Crest Elementary.

For the past 2 years, I have had the privilege of serving Nelson Township on the Board of Review.  This has been a privilege for me, as I have met so many amazing people from our township. I believe in being transparent with voters. I support farmers, small business, Veterans, and all families of Nelson Township. I will protect the rights of our residents. My decisions will be based on facts, and on the desires of our community. As a younger resident I have ideas that are fresh and can help attract more individuals to get involved in local government. My team experience as a public school teacher will prove valuable to our community. If elected, I hope to bring Nelson Township into the 21st century – Update technology use, Facebook live & Youtube live our meetings, update website, etc. and help the township and village of Sand Lake work together to provide the best opportunities and resources to all citizens of Nelson Township and the Village. For more info visit

Daniel George (R): My name is Daniel George, 68 years old. I've lived in Nelson Township for a total of 15+ years, and at my most recent address with my wife Debi for 12+ years. I have two grown children who grew up in this township, including my daughter, Dani, who now lives in Memphis, TN and my son, Hunter, who lives in Rochester, NY. I'm originally from upstate New York, but I have lived in western Michigan for a total of 40+ years. I am recently retired as the Superintendent of Creative Technologies Academy where I served for 10+ years.

I served as President of the CTA Board of Directors prior to my employment with the Academy. I have served on the Board of Review for Nelson Township and I have also served on the board of my church. I recently served on the Cedar Springs Community Building and Design Team's Design Committee. I currently serve on the national Board of Directors for Polestar Outdoors, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Cody, Wyoming that mentors youth in the outdoors. I have been a member of the Pineview Homes Board of Directors for 45 years. Pineview is a nonprofit home in Evart, Michigan for approximately 35 delinquent, abused and neglected boys who are wards of the state or court system.

As an educator, I pursued the accomplishment of tasks with an open mind and a spirit of collaboration. My staff, families, and members of the community who know me would attest that my primary goal was to do what was best for kids, all kids. As a Trustee for Nelson Township, I would have the same philosophy about accomplishing board business and my primary goal would be to do what is best for the residents of Nelson Township, all of the residents.

Maureen Mahoney (R): I have lived in Nelson Township for 20 years.  Prior to that I lived and Kansas City Missouri and was born in New Jersey.  I am currently a medical assistant for Mercy Health Physician Partners and have worked there for 19 years.  I am not married and have no children of my own, however I have 6 nieces and nephews and three great nieces.

I am currently a Trustee for Nelson Township and have been for 12 years.  I am a member of the planning commission board.  I am also the president of the Friends of the Library for the Nelson Township/Sand Lake branch. If elected, I want to stay involved in the community and continue to serve.

The other two candidates running are Margaret Merritt and Darcy Strypko.

Solon Township trustees

Three candidates are running for two positions as trustees on the Solon Township board.

Kyle Dee (R): My name is Kyle J. Dee, 32 years old, living in Solon Township and running for elections as Township Trustee. I was born in Pittsburgh, PA before my family moved to West Michigan in 2000. Growing up in West Michigan, I was very involved with my church and youth programs as well as volunteering at a local food pantry. I attended Olivet Nazarene University, in Illinois, where I met the love of my life, Amy. I joined the Illinois Army National Guard, as an Infantryman, in 2011 and shipped off to Basic Training just 3 months after marrying Amy. After returning from Basic Training, I spent the next year preparing for a deployment to Afghanistan before the deployment was eventually cancelled. I transferred to the Michigan Army National Guard at the end of 2012, where I spent the remainder of my contract. During my time with the Army, I participated in several large scale joint training missions and competed in the Governor's 20 shooting competition and Expert Infantryman Badge course. I separated from the Army with an honorable discharge and believe that the lessons I learned through my training help me in my day-to-day work.

I am a Production Manager for Allen Edwin Homes and have been with them since January of 2018. Prior to working for Allen Edwin, I worked for a property management company as a Project Manager. I really enjoy spending time and playing with my children, Rorey and Kiera, and Sci-Fi. 

I believe the greatest challenge in Solon Township, is to engage the public in the issues that the township is dealing with. I plan to set up social media platforms that will make the issues more easily accessible to the public. As our area continues to grow and thrive, we need to make sure that we are looking at new ways to handle increased budgets and growing township needs. This is why I'm running for Solon Township Trustee. As the youngest member of the board, I will bring new ideas and present a different viewpoint on issues and opportunities that present themselves. 

Mark Hoskins (R): I am 61 years old and have been a resident of Solon township for the last 15 years, but I have lived in the Cedar Springs area all my life. My wife, Joy, and I have been married for 43 years, and we have 7 children and 22 grandchildren. I am a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, specializing in the north Kent county area for the last 35 years. In Nov 1981 I was elected to the Cedar Springs City Council, where I served for four years.  I was appointed to the Solon township Planning Board, where I served for 2 years.  Subsequently, I was asked to fill a vacancy on the Trustee board for a couple of years, after which I was elected Trustee of Solon township in 2016.  I have served as a deacon and treasurer in churches where I was a member. 

My goals for the next term will be keeping water and soil in our township safe from outside contaminants, preserving our rural setting and continuing development of Velzy Park behind our township hall.

Jon Stout (R): My name is Jon Stout. I was raised in Cedar Springs and have lived in Solon Township for the past 50 years. This year my wife and I celebrated our 40th anniversary. Our hearts belong to our four children and seven grandchildren. At 63, I have dedicated the majority of my life in various positions that served our community and surrounding areas. At age 17 I joined Solon Township's Fire department. One year later, I was elected as the state's youngest Constable. Twenty-three years later, I retired from Solon Fire as their chief. While serving Solon's community, I also joined Kent County Sheriff's Mounted Division as a reserve deputy, and Sand Lake's Police department as a reserve officer. For the pasts 30 years, I have provided my experience and service in assisting individuals as their real estate broker at Stout Group Ltd. Three years ago I was accepted to serve on Solon's Board of Appeals. The experience on that board has encouraged me to serve our community as trustee in a way that will assist in Solon's future. It has always been my home. I have lived through Solon's growth and seen the changes that have developed it into what it is today. It will continue to grow and change. I want to be part of the decisions that will affect its future for the benefit of all who call this home, too.


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