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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - A number of people -- politicians, the county prosecutor and even the man himself -- have weighed in on the Rep. Roy Schmidt debacle. But what about the people who sent him to office?
Schmidt, a report from Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth shows, agreed to pay a weaker, hand-picked opponent to run against him as a Democrat after he abruptly switched parties in May -- only days after he raised funds as a Democrat.
But, Forsyth said, though the scheme was "clearly designed to undermine the election and to perpetrate a 'fraud' on the electorate," it was not illegal under Michigan law.
Voters on Grand Rapid's west side hold their politicians to high standards -- disappoint westsiders, and you may lose more than their vote.
Schmidt carried the banner of 'local boy does good' on the westside for years. He's known as a man who went to bat for his neighbors as a city commissioner and later a state legislator. He returned calls, answered letters and stuck around to talk to constituents even after the cameras left an event. For many on the westside , including Jazwinski , Schmidt was one of the good ones.
But attitudes on Grand Rapids' west side have changed since news of Schmidt's election shenanigans broke.
"Oh, I think Roy's damaged goods," said Jim Jazwinski, who's been cutting hair at Ball Park Barbershop on West Fulton Street for over four decades. "And I liked Roy, he was a nice guy. Of course, which politician isn't?"
He wasn't alone in his disappointment over the party-switching mess.
"Everybody feels betrayed. Everybody wonders why he did this," said Greg Jackson as he worked the cash register at West Side Service Station on Leonard Street near Covell Street.
From the one-chair barbershop to the service station where you can still get both gas and a tune up, westsiders like tradition.
Jazwinski has seen a number of politicians come and go throughout the years.
"This guy [Schmidt] told me when it comes to politics, it's all special-interest groups and lobbyists that seem to drive it," Jazwinski said. He said now, he is beginning to believe it.
While many from elsewhere might consider the scheme business as usual, westsiders don't accept that.
Electing honest politicians is another tradition -- those who aren't don't last long here. Those who are get votes.
"We hold our politicians liable for what they do," said Jackson.
How voters will hold Schmidt liable remains to be seen.
If he is re-elected in November, the one thing Schmidt may find even tougher to regain is the respect of many here on the west side.
"As for going to Sandy's Donuts next door or to the Elk's Club or Family Fare and shaking someone's hand, I don't think it's going to happen with the same results as he hoped for years ago," said Jackson.
The heaviest snow showers will track through midday.
Ten people have filed a class action suit against Mercantile Bank, alleging the bank discriminated against minority business owners.
A camera mounted on a tow truck caught an example of a common incident Tuesday: a vehicle sliding off the road.