Published on July 11, 2019
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The City Commission this week finalized plans for an 11-member task force on elected representation. The task force will include community members, a representative of academic study that includes public administration, political science or public policy and individuals from the Grand Rapids Democracy Initiative and Empower the Citizens, which are spearheading citizen-led initiatives. Each of the six city commissioners and the mayor will appoint community members to the task force.
The citizen-led initiatives propose moving city elections from odd years to even years and – separately – increasing the number of city wards from three to eight, with a single member representing each ward.
In June, the City Commission heard presentations by City staff on the citizen-led initiatives. Because of the complexity and potential unknown or unintended impacts of the proposed changes, the City Commission asked City staff to formalize plans for a task force to look into the impact on voter participation, representation on the City Commission and City finances and operations.
The task force will receive and review information, research and testimony on the impacts of the proposed changes as well as any potential alternatives. The group’s 11 members will reflect the Grand Rapids community’s diversity. City staff from the City Manager’s, City Clerk’s and City Attorney’s offices and Fiscal Services Department will serve in an advisory role.
The task force will hold at least one meeting in each ward for public input and will provide a report, recommendations and fiscal, operational and electoral implications to the City Commission for consideration no later than Dec. 17.