Southwest Michigan Today for Wednesday July 26, 2017

Jul 26, 2017

More candidates have jumped into the race for three Portage City Council seats this fall. They include newcomers Chris Burns, Wayne Stoffer and Tim Earl. 

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports that Burns is an analyst at Greenleaf Trust while Stoffer is the chair of the Portage Planning Commission and Earl is a fire safety consultant who’s on the city’s Parks Board. Four-term Councilwoman Claudette Reid says she’ll seek a new term in November. Councilman Terry Urban is also running again. The other Council candidates are Lori Knapp, Phil Stinchcomb, and Jim Stephanek.

Five people have filed to run for the Kalamazoo City Commission, which has three seats up this November. Incumbents Erin Knott and Jack Urban intend to run again, but not commissioner Matt Milcarek. Eric Cunningham, Charley Coss and Leona Carter also plan to campaign for a seat on the commission. Cunningham was appointed to a vacancy in 2015 but lost that seat in the next election. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports that Carter ran unsuccessfully in 2015 and Coss ran as a Republican for county board last November but lost to Democrat Tracy Hall. Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell will run unopposed. Environmental activist Chris Wahmhoff had said he would campaign for mayor but did not file in time.

For the past year, the water in Flint has tested below the federal limits for lead and copper, according a press release from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The agency got the results back from another 6-month testing period. 90 percent of the samples tested below 7 parts per billion. That’s less than half of the federal limit for lead. Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says despite the test results, it will still take the residents of Flint a long time to trust their government.

A former Michigan Congressman with roots in the Netherlands is likely to become the next US ambassador to the country. The Gongwer News Service reports that President Donald Trump intends to nominate Peter Hoekstra for the post. Hoekstra immigrated to the US from the Netherlands and served in Congress for close to two decades. Hoekstra’s district along the shoreline of Lake Michigan included many people descended from Dutch immigrants. Republican Congressman Fred Upton says Hoekstra’s nomination will, in his words, “continue the fruitful relationship we’ve long enjoyed with the Netherlands.” 

Battle Creek has a large field of candidates for city commission this November. Twenty-two people have filed to serve on the nine-member board. Six of them are incumbents. And the Battle Creek Enquirer says four other candidates were members at some time. On Tuesday a few candidates’ paperwork was still being reviewed. Those who do win a seat in November will serve for three years. That’s because the city decided in May to move city elections to even-numbered years. The next commission election will happen in 2020. After that, commissioners will go back to serving two-year terms.

A likely candidate for governor of Michigan in 2018 has $1.6 million in available campaign funds. The Detroit Free Press reports that Attorney General Bill Schuette has raised about $900,000 of that money this year. Schuette, a Republican, cannot run again for attorney general because of term limits. He’s widely expected to join the race for governor. So is Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, who’s also a Republican and also term-limited. Recent filings show Calley not so far behind Schuette in fundraising, with $1 million in ready campaign funds. Those amounts far outstrip two declared Republican candidates. Saginaw doctor Jim Hines had raised several hundred thousand dollars but has only a few thousand left after a campaign to get signatures. And State Senator Patrick Colbeck has about $23,000 in campaign funds on hand.

State Representative Brandt Iden says he’s not sure what the legislature can do to keep people from setting of fireworks when they’re not supposed to. But Iden, a Republican from Oshtemo Township, says he’ll look for solutions after an uptick in complaints over the Fourth of July. Iden is the head of the House Regulatory Reform Committee. The Gongwer News Service reports the committee’s gotten a few bills related to fireworks but Iden hasn’t been keen to take them up. However Iden says he’ll hold meetings in August with lawmakers and the fireworks industry to look for a ‘comprehensive plan’ on consumer fireworks. He says it’s possible the state needs to change its laws to make it easier for local governments to enforce fireworks rules.

It’s not unusual to find the remnants of surfaces past when working on roads. But construction workers in Grand Haven Township have unearthed more than old asphalt or even brick. MLive reports a log road has turned up under thick concrete on 168th Avenue. That’s a road made up of…logs, running perpendicular to the direction of traffic. They were also known as corduroy roads. The township thinks the logs went down around the time of the Civil War, in the 1860s. They say they knew about a different corduroy road but were pleasantly surprised by this one.