GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — We are just days away from voters heading to the polls across West Michigan.
Three candidates who are vying for the Second Ward Commissioner seat in Grand Rapids took part in a public forum Friday night.
Michael Farage says that his work as an activist makes him a strong candidate.
"I stand up for what I believe is right, I stood up at the school board for the special needs kids, I've stood up numerous times for the blacks and browns who on the south side of Grand Rapids, their school is not quite as equitable as other schools," Farage said.
And speaking of schools boards, Wendy Falb, believes her experience on the Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) board is vital to improving the city.
"Taking that risk of putting myself out there during a very tumultuous time when urban public schools across the country and in GRPS in particular, there was a loss of faith in them, I had the confidence to put my child in them and was going to work to make it better," Falb said.
Milinda Ysasi argues that all of her experience working for nonprofits was a perfect primer.
"It goes back to my experience and strong experience working in policy, so the issues that are facing the city around housing, community and police relations and really how do we grow as a city, those are things I have experience in," Ysasi said.
Each candidate has different ideas for how they would improve the issues facing northeast Grand Rapids.
"There are root causes for as to why these shootings are happening and we have to continue to examine what these root causes are like unemployment or lack of opportunity," Falb said.
"Improving with how we interact with federal agencies, dealing with ICE in our community was a recent concern over the past year," Ysasi said.
"I support the rank and file of the police department, that doesn't mean they are always right but I want to improve by taking a stand for the issues," Farage said.
13 ON YOUR SIDE spoke to residents on the streets for their take on issues in the area.
Some like Michael Knox sang praises over the area, saying there was a nice sense of community and up-to-date facilities
"I'm loving it. It's a great area. We live right across the street from Riverside Park, and it's a nice, clean park. I've already been for a few runs down there with my dog," he said.
Others like social work student Sophie Ordway had changes they'd like to see.
"I’d really love to see commissioners that are open to talking honestly and getting honest feedback from the community about the police relationships, about things that have been going well and things that haven’t been going well," she said.
Voters will head to the polls Tuesday.
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