MUSKEGON, MI – Six candidates are vying for three open seats on the Muskegon Board of Education in the Nov. 3 general election.
Muskegon Public Schools is one of the largest districts in the county with 3,514 registered students this fall.
School board trustees serve six-year terms and are tasked with a variety of jobs including, approving an annual budget, hire and evaluate the superintendent, and adopting policies that give the district administration direction to set priorities and achieve its goals.
Three of the candidates – Zachary Anderson, Billie Bruce and Louis Churchwell – are incumbents seeking reelection.
The other three candidate are new challengers – Kwame Kamau James, Nicholas Sima and Jonathan Witmer.
Here is some background information provided by each of the candidates:
- Anderson, 27, attended Grand Valley State University (GVSU) and now works as a consultant. He has served on the Muskegon school board for the past six years and has pushed for transparency and accountability from the administration, he said.
- Bruce, 77, is a Muskegon Public Schools graduate and earned her degrees from Muskegon Community College and GVSU. She has served as secretary on the Muskegon school board for six years. She is a pediatric Registered Nurse and earned a certificate for Elementary Drug Free School Zones from Concordia University.
- Churchwell, 62, is a clinician and Group Coordinator with HealthWest Muskegon. He graduated from Muskegon Public Schools in 1977 and currently serves as the school board’s Vice President. He studied at Grand Canyon University and earned two master’s degrees: a Masters of Science in Professional Counseling, and a Masters in the field of Substance Abuse/Addictions. He is a former CEO of West Michigan Therapy, Inc. and founder of Transitional Living Center in Muskegon Heights.
- James, 45, is self-employed and earned his associate’s degree from Muskegon Community College. He has two sons who attended and graduated from Muskegon Public Schools and was a Big Red Marching Band parent volunteer. He has worked as a youth mentor at Every Woman’s Place, which provides help for victims of domestic violence, a site worker at Site Worker, LA’s BEST After School Program, and a garden facilitator at Growing Goods Summer School Program.
- Sima, 34, is a Technical Support Technician and has earned his associate’s degree.
- Witmer, 41, is a real estate appraiser with two students in the Muskegon Public Schools system. He is a graduate of Muskegon Public Schools and earned a bachelor’s degree in geography at GVSU. He also completed graduate coursework in Urban Regeneration at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, United Kingdom. Witmer is president of the governing board at First Congregational Church UCC in Muskegon, secretary of the Nelson Neighborhood Improvement Association and youth soccer coach for Muskegon Soccer Club.
MLive Media Group has partnered with the League of Women Voters of Michigan to provide candidate information for readers. Each candidate was asked to outline their stances on a variety of public policy issues.
Information on all state and federal races and many of Michigan’s county and local races