Voting for Kalamazoo’s mayor, first time in 100 years

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Tuesday’s election will be the first time voters specifically vote for their mayor separate from a crowded ballot of 16 city commission candidates.

Up until now, the top vote recipient of the city commission candidates would become mayor. Incumbent Mayor Bobby Hopewell said this is the first election in 100 years where candidates specifically have to run for mayor. Both Hopewell and Mayoral Candidate Kris Mbah are doing everything they can to take the seat, going door-to-door handing out flyers in the pouring rain.

“Well, I think the only way to receive the vote is to talk with voters, let them know that you’re running,” said Hopewell. “You tell them what you want to do and talk to them about their issues and concerns, and all the opportunities of our city."

There are issues such as community involvement and tackling the city’s $2.5 million deficit while finding ways to reduce spending while increasing revenue.

“I’m working hard every day for Kalamazoo,” said Hopewell. “This is not about aspirations to be somewhere else. This is about our city and moving forward, and how we can grow together.”

Those concerns are shared by the 31-year-old Mbah, Founder and CEO of Aviators, specializing in engagement strategies for people and business, and reducing poverty. Now he’s focusing on putting Kalamazoo back on the map.

“We need new results, productive leadership,” said Mbah. “We need innovative strategies that are going to move Kalamazoo to the next step, especially globally. I don’t like politics at all. I don’t like people who say one thing and do another, I despise it. So for me being in that kind of environment is very disturbing but I think I offer a contrary to the kind of culture and leadership.”

Both candidates are working on priority-based budgeting necessary in getting Kalamazoo out of the red, requesting structural changes in the city’s budget. Both are hopeful of becoming mayor following the Nov. 3 election.

“We’ve done a whole bunch of trimming and we’ll keep doing that but we have to figure out how we’re going to gain new revenue,” said Hopewell.

“What’s being talked about is the city income tax and I’m completely against it.” said Mbah.

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