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Voters approve veterans millage for Kalamazoo County, ranked choice voting in city

Photo shows a big carpeted sunny room with tables and chairs scattered around and privacy screens that say "vote" with an American flag on them on top of the table. A man sits at a table in the background facing away from the camera while presumably casting a ballot.
Leona Larson
A polling place at the WMU Student Center, Tuesday, November 7th, 2023.

The mayors of Kalamazoo and Portage both won new two year terms on Tuesday

Kalamazoo voters embraced ranked-choice voting in Tuesday's election. 6,486 people voted in favor of the proposal, fewer than 2,700 people voted against. It’s not clear when the city can actually start using that system to vote. The proposal says state law would have to change first.

If adopted, voters will list candidates by preferences with their vote being given to their second choice if their first does not win the majority. This will continue through the ranking until a candidate wins.

A millage in Kalamazoo County to help local veterans had overwhelming voter support. Nearly 32,000 voters voted for the 10-year millage to raise property taxes by about 10-dollars a year for a home worth $200,000. It will cover general operating expenses for the county’s Veterans Service Office, while expanding benefits like counseling services and emergency relief for veterans in need.

Kalamazoo Mayor David Anderson has easily won another term in office. Anderson garnered nearly 7,100 of the nearly 9,300 votes that were cast. Challenger John Allen earned about 1,850 votes on Tuesday. At a watch party Tuesday night, Anderson spoke about some of his priorities for the next term.

“We are still gonna have to keep working on this gun violence issue we have going on, we've got serious support that we need to provide for our downtown for it to be a great place. Obviously, we're dealing with streets, and non-motorized transportation, there's a lot of controversy about that.”

The Kalamazoo City Commission will have a new member. Incumbents Jeanne Hess and Chris Praedel earned the highest vote tally with 5,797 votes and 5,343 votes respectively. They were the highest vote getters. Newcomer Alonzo Wilson edged out Incumbent Esteven Juarez for the final of three seats in Tuesday’s election. Wilson earned 4,783 votes, Juarez trailed with 3,447 votes.

Portage Mayor Patricia Randall defeated a write-in opponent by a wide margin in Tuesday’s election. Randall earned nearly 7,100 of the just over 8,400 ballots. This will be Randall’s fourth term as Portage’s Mayor. Former Portage City Councilwoman Lisa Brayton ran a write-in campaign. 1,347 write-in votes were cast in Tuesday's election. Brayton’s name was removed from the ballot amid a residency dispute.

Two incumbents won re-election to the Portage City Council. Chris Burns and James Person, along with newcomer Nicole Miller won four year terms in Tuesday's election. Jihan Ain Young was fourth among nine candidates. Young will serve the final two years of Brayton's City Council term.

Kalamazoo County election results

Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. She covered those topics and more in eight years of reporting for the Station, before becoming news director in 2022.
Leona has worked as a journalist for most of her life - in radio, print, television and as journalism instructor. She has a background in consumer news, special projects and investigative reporting.
Report for America national service program corps member Michael Symonds joined WMUK’s staff in 2023. He covers the “rural meets metro” beat, reporting stories that link seemingly disparate parts of Southwest Michigan.
Brian comes to WMUK after spending nearly 30 years as News Director of a public radio station in the Chicago area. Brian grew up in Louisville, Kentucky and attended Western Kentucky University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcasting. He started working in public radio while at WKU; and has worked in radio news for more than 35 years. Brian lives on a quiet lake in Barry County with his wife and three dogs. Thanks to his Kentucky roots, he’s an avid collector of bourbon and other varieties of whiskey. Above all else, Brian considers himself a story teller and looks forward to sharing southwest Michigan stories with WMUK’s listeners.
Gordon Evans became WMUK's Content Director in 2019 after more than 20 years as an anchor, host and reporter. A 1990 graduate of Michigan State, he began work at WMUK in 1996.