EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Voters in East Grand Rapids will go to the polls Nov. 5 to decide who they want as mayor.
Incumbent Mayor Amna Seibold is being challenged by City Commissioner Katie Favale.
Seibold was first elected mayor in 2011. Before that, she served as a city commissioner and on the planning commission. She’s the director of pathology at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s.
Favale is a realtor and was first elected to the city commission in 2017.
Here is how they responded to our questions about their campaign and the issues facing residents East Grand Rapids:
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING?
“There are a lot of things that we have underway that I would like to see through,” Seibold said. “I think it’s a very exciting time as well. We have some new, major projects that are looming, and after many years of experience, I think it would be important to be a part of that right now.”
“To be quite honest, it wasn’t necessarily on my radar to run for mayor at this point, but I was asked by my fellow commissioners and asked by several residents to throw my hat in the ring,” Favale said. “Just right out of the gate, I had this tremendous amount of support, so I really took some time, about a month and a half, for serious contemplation with my family about whether I wanted to do this and we decided to go for it.”
“Some of them are a little bit boring,” Seibold said. “One of the first things I usually talk about is our infrastructure. When all of our kids are grown and move back to East Grand Rapids, I don’t want them to ask us why aren’t the water pipes working, why do we have to do all sort of road building and infrastructure?
“I’ve worked very hard over the last 8 years to get an entire accounting of what we have underneath our streets. What do those water pipes look like? What do the sewer pipes look like? When I took office, there was no film of those. We didn’t know what sort of shape they were in. So I made it a main goal to make sure that we understood it, then to plan for the future.”
“One of the biggest priorities is to increase transparency and collaboration in our local government,” Favale said. “Right now, it’s a very top-down management style. Which is fine, because that’s a management style. But I think along with most of my fellow commissioners, that we can do a little bit better. We can have more collaboration: collaboration within the commission itself, communication and collaboration within the city and the schools.”
FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF GASLIGHT VILLAGE
“That takes all the work of the city staff, of our planning commission, of our city commission. And I have experience as we went through that with the first phase,” Seibold said. “…When you drive through Gaslight Village right now, you see the lovely village, you see the heated sidewalks, and that was all from the project we did about 12 years ago. And so as we go into this next round, I want to make sure we get this right because if we don’t, we’re stuck with it.”
“So for example in Rockford, their city manager, part of his job is to encourage businesses to come to Rockford. And they’re doing very well,” Favale said. “And in fact, that’s how we lost one of our local businesses. They were recruited out. I’d like to see more oversight in that realm, and trying to attract businesses that are appropriate to Gaslight Village, and then increasing foot traffic with more festivals or food truck Fridays, fun stuff like that to get the residents more engaged in Gaslight.”
Hear more from the candidates:
You can find your polling place and check out a sample ballot online at the Michigan Secretary of State’s Voter Information Center.