Kent County fills vacant seat


Patrick Szymczak. Courtesy Kent County

A business owner, described as a “political neophyte” by a Kent County commissioner, was the unanimous choice of the county Board of Commissioners this morning to fill the District 6 seat left vacant by the resignation of Mike Wawee in February.

Patrick Szymczak, 55, told the Business Journal he has never held a public office before.

Since 2004, he has owned The Jant Group in Belmont, which produces visual graphics for local and national retailers, presentation binders and digital print material, including signs, decals and custom graphics.

Szymczak was previously employed as a global account manager for SBC Global, and he holds a B.S. in biology from Central Michigan University.

He lives at 1235 El Camino Drive in northwest Grand Rapids, off Leonard Street, near the Elks Lodge Highlands Golf Club.

In the community

Kent County Board Chair Dan Koorndyk noted Szymczak’s “long history of being involved in community-based efforts.”

“His knowledge about operating a business, as well as the people in his district, will be a benefit to this board,” Koorndyk said.

Szymczak, a Republican, has lived in Grand Rapids for 25 years and has been very active for the past 18 years as a volunteer coach in Western Little League, at schools and the YMCA. He has also been active with the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts. He and his wife have four children; three in college and one at West Catholic High School.


Szymczak will be finishing the term of Wawee, who resigned in February after being arrested for alleged embezzlement in his work as a cemetery-plot salesman at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids.

If Szymczak wants to continue in his role as District 6 commissioner, he will have to run for election this fall.

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