Hope College professor, affordable housing advocate vie for open Holland City Council seat

HOLLAND, MI — Two newcomers will square off Nov. 5 for one of Holland City Council’s two at-large seats.

The challengers are Vicki-Lynn Holmes, a 59-year-old an associate professor of mathematics and education at Hope College, and Lyn Raymond, the 58-year-old director of affordable housing group Lakeshore Housing Alliance.

The seat’s incumbent, Wayne Klomparens, was knocked out of the race in the August primary when both Holmes and Raymond took in more votes than he did.

Raymond took 41.4 percent of the vote, Holmes took 32.4 percent and Klomparens took 26.1 percent. Klomparens was seeking a third four-year term.

Raymond serves on the Holland Planning Commission and Neighborhood Improvement Committee. She previously was president of the Lakeshore Fair Housing Advisory Board.

Holmes serves on the city’s Human Relations Commission and has served as the adviser for Hope College’s Black Student Union. She also was the regional director of the Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Below is how each of the candidates answered questions about their candidacy.

Why should voters elect you?

VICKI HOLMES:

As a tenured math professor at Hope College, I am at a season in my life where I can serve the people of Holland well. I’ve lived here 11 years, and having lived in other places as a public middle and high school teacher, I can attest to how wonderful Holland is. Still, it is far from perfect, and we can do more to make it better.

My parents raised my siblings and I in an environment of faith, love of one another, and the importance of education and hard work. They also raised us to “give back” to the community. From them, I learned the importance of listening and valuing differing perspectives.

LYN RAYMOND:

Holland has been my home for more than 20 years. I have spent those years studying housing and homelessness, engaging in authentic relationships in a variety of community spaces, and advocating for those who experience social injustice.

I am an effective collaborator and communicator, skills I have honed over the years first as a direct service provider and now as director of the Lakeshore Housing Alliance. Those experiences, along with my involvement on the Lakeshore Fair Housing Advisory Board, the city of Holland Neighborhood Improvement Committee and the city of Holland Planning Commission have given me the opportunity to use my skills in data analysis and strategic planning.

Eliciting, clarifying, and caring about where constituents stand on issues is one of the ways I will effectively advocate and collaborate toward results. Empowering the people we serve to be involved in design processes results in more effective solutions.

If elected, what will your top three priorities be?

LYN RAYMOND:

The overarching issue facing the city of Holland is sustainability: How do we sustain the quality of life Holland offers and ensure that all have an opportunity to participate? Sustainability includes housing, equity, energy efficiency, talent retention and development. The lack of housing affects most acutely people who are most in need. The city must consider prioritizing affordable housing not just on increasing stock at all levels in order to decrease demand. This strategy will not address the needs of the most vulnerable in our community.

Currently the city is undergoing a complete rewrite of the zoning code which will inform future development in commercial, industrial and residential areas. At the same time, designs for waterfront development are considered and will have long-term implications for the city. Holland will need to address diversity and inclusion in a deliberate way in order to create a space where everyone feels welcome and a part of the community.

The decisions we make today will create the kind of community our children want to be a part of and others will want to join. Holland will remain a great place to live, work and play.

VICKI HOLMES:

Our world is becoming more polarized day-by-day. It saddens me when I see how quickly we will judge and label each other. Together, we can focus on our shared interests and work for the common good of our city. We don’t have to let our walls of partition become the norm.

Because of its people and industry, Holland has many strengths and accomplishments. We can add another chapter to our immeasurable success by improving how we include and respect one another. With this in mind, my three top priorities are 1) listening to all sides of an issue prior to making an informed, common-sense decision, 2) making attainable housing for our low-income residents a reality, and 3) promoting a broad and open dialogue about what it means for us to be a more inclusive, more respectful city.

For me, it all begins by earning your vote on Nov. 5, and then listening, learning and going the extra mile for you. I want to bring people together to put Holland on the map as the most inclusive and respectful city in Michigan, where every resident (whatever their belief or bent) is accorded the same equal protection under the law. We can still keep our exciting momentum going strong without diminishing our current civil right laws or taking a step back from the cause of inclusion.

With respect to affordable housing, I believe we are all better served when we view this issue as an attainable housing mindset. This is because empowering people and providing options through attainable housing builds our entire city. Many affordable housing strategies I’ve seen actually fuel entitlement. This isn’t good. Let’s explore ways we can provide attainable housing for our young professionals and working poor. Then we’re all further ahead – our taxpayers, too!

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