GRAND RAPIDS — Three candidates are squaring off in tomorrow’s Grand Rapids mayoral primary as the first step in replacing retiring Mayor John Logie.
Should one of the three candidates garner 51 percent or more of the vote in Tuesday’s primary, he or she would win the post outright and eliminate the need for a general election later in the year. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters will compete in November.
The candidates are Barbara Sue Damore, George Heartwell and Richa.
Richa, a long-time community and political activist in Grand Rapids, could not be reached for comment.
Damore, who works in real estate, has a long list of community involvement, including work with the city of Grand Rapids’ zoning board of appeals and housing code board of appeals. She also has been active in the Westside Neighborhood Association, West Leonard Business Association, Stockbridge Business Association and Leonard Street Business Association.
“Business prime development ideas must be shared. If we were not so secretive we would be surprised at who would bring business to this fine community,” Damore said. She said she wants all business owners to be able to “peek behind the curtain” when it comes to growth and development in Grand Rapids.
Heartwell is a former Grand Rapids city commissioner who now team teaches in Aquinas College’s Community Leadership undergraduate program. He directs the college’s Community Leadership Institute.
If elected, Heartwell has identified his two main priorities as public education and economic development.
He said the public schools and city are closely tied in an effort to make the region “world class.”
That’s why economic development and diversification are so important, he said.
“I’ve watched as we’ve seen our entire tool and die industry virtually decimated. We have to be aggressive in trying to replace that sector with things like biotech. It’s easy to get excited about biotech, but it’s an investment today that’s not going to begin paying off for us for a decade or more.
“We need to also pay attention to alternative energy and communications. There may be little niche industries that we can begin to attract and build.”
Polls are open throughout Grand Rapids from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Tuesday.