Spotlighting the 2018 West Michigan Policy Forum Conference

Catch up with the Keynote
West Michigan Policy Forum 2018 conference logo

Several Comm-PAC committee members attended the 2018 West Michigan Policy Forum (WMPF) Conference Sept. 23-24 in Grand Rapids to show our support for the work being done by WMPF on behalf of business leaders and citizens of Michigan.

Attendees gathered from around the state to discuss a state policy agenda for 2018-2019 in order to support and strengthen Michigan’s recovery and establish our state as a nationwide leader.

Keynote speaker Tawni Hunt Ferrarini, Ph.D. provided great insight into understanding our state’s fiscal health. A professor of economic education at Lindenwood University’s Hammond Institute, Ferrarini also presented her overview of the state’s funding needed to pay for proposed and current state programs.  Read more

Get to Know Jim Ritsema

Driving Excellence through Collaboration

Jim Ritsema, Kalamazoo City ManagerComm-PAC continued its “Get to Know” event series on Thursday, May 10, with Kalamazoo City Manager Jim Ritsema. Eleven Comm-PAC members met with Ritsema at Caffe Casa in Kalamazoo. Ritsema started by explaining his role with the city.

“I’m the CEO of the city so to speak,” Ritsema said. “I create the buffer between the city commission and city operations.”

With 630 city employees from waste water treatment to public safety and street crews to planners and engineers, Ritsema said his office implements policy for a multitude of city departments and services.

Ritsema joined the City of Kalamazoo in November 2013 after serving as Battle Creek’s Assistant City Manager for more than 13 years. That experience, paired with a bachelor’s degree in political science and government and a master’s in finance, make Ritsema a knowledgeable asset for the city and its citizens.

With eager participants in the room, Ritsema fielded questions about current city issues and upcoming projects. Read more

Get to Know Rep. Dave Maturen

Appraising the Political Landscape

Rep. Dave Maturen at Comm-PAC "Get to Know" eventIt was evident that Rep. Dave Maturen knows a thing or two about local government as he met a group of nine Comm-PAC members for a “Get to Know” event on Tuesday, Aug. 29, at Water Street Coffee in Portage.

Serving at a variety of levels, including as a Brady Township trustee for 14 years and a Kalamazoo County Commissioner for 12 years before serving at the House level, Maturen has more than 28 years of experience in local office. That experience makes him a seasoned member of the Michigan House of Representatives.

Representing the 63rd District since 2015, Maturen currently serves as the Vice Chair of the House Tax Policy Committee and is a member of the Financial Liability Reform, Natural Resources, and Transportation and Infrastructure committees.

“I’m in my second term now,” Maturen said. “I’m hoping to come back for another term after 2018.” Read more

Get to Know Rep. Jon Hoadley

Developing Opportunities for Education and Long-Term Progress

Rep. Jon HoadleyComm-PAC continued its “Get to Know” event series on Friday, April 28, with Rep. Jon Hoadley. Nine Comm-PAC members met with the Kalamazoo County Democrat at Water Street Coffee in Portage. Hoadley started by sharing the positive praise he hears about Kalamazoo in his travels.

“It’s a great experience when I’m talking to my colleagues in the legislature while traveling across the country that people have heard of Kalamazoo,” Hoadley said.

Acquaintances mention The Kalamazoo Promise, the growing beer industry, and the art scene.

“What that really says is, ‘I’ve heard of it, I like it. And there’s something happening there.'” Hoadley said. Read more

Get to Know Sen. Margaret O’Brien

Lessons in Leadership with a Side of Coffee

Sen. Margaret O'BrienThe first in a series of invite-only “Get to Know” events, nine Comm-PAC members received a firsthand account of legislative efforts in Michigan from Sen. Margaret O’Brien on Feb. 6. Gathered at Water Street Coffee in Portage, the Kalamazoo County Republican also shared a few of the important lessons she’s learned during four years in the Michigan House of Representatives and more than two years in the Michigan Senate – what it takes to be a good leader.

An average week for O’Brien is busy, to say the least. On Mondays and Fridays, O’Brien is in Kalamazoo County breaking down her day into 15-minute increments to meet with constituents, read up on policy, and make the most of back-to-back meetings. She travels to and from Lansing every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, making it a point to be home with her family in Portage every night. She estimates that she’s spent four nights at most in Lansing over the last year. Read more

Comm-PAC Spotlight: Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya SchuitmakerSen. Tonya Schuitmaker is a lifelong resident of southwest Michigan. She and her husband, Steve, have two beautiful children, Jordan and Savina. After an acclaimed legal career, Tonya served three terms in the House of Representatives. She then went on to be elected to the Michigan Senate in November 2010. Her legislative priorities include jobs, the economy, fiscal responsibility, protecting children, seniors, the mentally ill, the disabled, and maintaining public safety.

We were able to sit down with Tonya recently and ask her some questions about Senate Bill 92 (S-7).

It’s so good to see you, Tonya. Thank you for taking the time to be with us today. We would like to learn more about Senate Bill 92 (S-7). What can you tell us?

Thank you. I’m glad to be here, too, and excited to spread the word about this bill. Read more