Incumbent faces challenge for East Grand Rapids’ 2nd Ward commission seat –

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Incumbent 2nd Ward commissioner Karey Hamrick will face Sean C. Sperling in the Nov. 5, 2019 election.

Karey Hamrick, 49, was elected to the seat in 2015 and has served one term. She holds a bachelor of science degree in television production from Ferris State University, and is a real estate investor with Hamrick Investment Group.

She serves on the city’s Finance, Infrastructure, Joint Facilities, Kent County Waste to Energy, and Personnel committees, and volunteers for EGR Parks and Recreation community events and at Lakeside Elementary School. She also has served on the EGR Superintendent’s Advisory Council and on the board of the EGR Community Foundation.

Sean C. Sperling, 43, studied naval architecture and marine engineering at the University of Michigan. He works in claims integrity, training and development at ASR Health Benefits.

He also is a member of the EGR PTO Legislative Committee, was a voting member of Priority Health’s Member Appeals Committee, has been a coach for EGR sports teams and the Breton Downs Lego Robotics team, chaired the Breton Downs PTO gardening committee, and is a volunteer reading group leader at Breton Downs. He also volunteered through the Free and Accepted Masons GR Doric Lodge.

MLive/The Grand Rapids Press asked each candidate a series of questions about their candidacy.

Why should voters elect you?


My professional and personal record both reflect the fact that I am practical and objective in my decision making process. My experience with budgeting in financial roles will serve to help keep East fiscally sound. My family has been a part of the East Grand Rapids Ward 2 community for over 30 years. I am both in touch with where we come from, as well as in tune with where we want to go. If elected I will be able to combine this with practical solutions for how to get there. Finally, as a graduate of East Grand Rapids schools, I can personally recognize the benefits of our educational system. It will be an honor to represent our friends and neighbors in Ward 2 on the EGR City Commission.

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Since my election to the city commission in 2015, I have been a proactive and engaged representative for the residents of our community. I understand the importance of the relationship between the city, the school district, and Gaslight Village. As a member of five city committees, I have a wealth of experience and knowledge about how our city operates and the ability to communicate that information to residents effectively. During my first term, I have participated in our Master Plan update, overseen our Streets and Sidewalk millage investment, maintained our AAA bond rating, voted to protect our natural resources and directed budget dollars toward Gaslight Village. I also listened to Ward 2 neighbors who were opposed to using Oxford Road as a pass-through to a Grand Rapids development and voted in their favor.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities?


In my second term, my focus will be to implement the Master Plan goals.

First, the city should initiate the recommended changes to the zoning ordinance to allow for more multi-family housing options near Gaslight Village. East Grand Rapids lacks a diversity of housing styles that accommodate different needs. By amending our zoning ordinance we can create more opportunity for developers to build incremental infill projects such as duplexes or triplexes where appropriate.

Second, the city should further its collaboration with the business district and explore more economic development opportunities with businesses and property owners in the commercial core. Additional marketing efforts on behalf of the city, along with collaborative recruitment of new businesses, has the potential to stimulate growth and support existing business owners in Gaslight Village.

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Third, continue initiation of the comprehensive mobility plan. The city has already begun to implement updated wayfinding signage and parking management strategies in Gaslight Village. We continue to find ways to improve safety and travel for pedestrians and bicyclists in our community. As technology advances, there may be further opportunities for EGR to partner with private entities or enhance our partnership with the Rapid to offer more “on demand” transportation. We pride ourselves on being a “walkable and bikeable, pedestrian friendly” community. I would like to take that ideal to the next level.


Public & Pedestrian Safety: Focusing on safety for school children and other pedestrians is paramount to keeping EGR as a walking and bicycling destination. A strong partnership with the city commission and Public Safety Department is of the utmost importance, as policies and laws which are unenforceable run the risk of being inept. I recently put together a successful National Night Out event for East Grand Rapids in order to connect neighbors with one another as well as build relationships with the men and women of our Public Safety Department.

Community Advocacy: Recently there was a proposed development in my neighborhood which would have severely impacted both pedestrian and traffic safety. I and others created a grassroots advocacy group of both East and Grand Rapids neighbors to push the issue in front of the current commission. Other than contact with the mayor, the residents of Ward 2 had no indication of how their representatives might vote until the actual vote itself. This was the call to action for me to put myself out there as a candidate. I vow to solicit feedback from all constituents in advance of future events.

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Fiscal Responsibility: I feel that going forward the commission’s time, and the taxpayers’ resources, are best spent improving infrastructure and traffic safety measures. I will use what I have learned from two+ decades of budget management across multiple financial roles to keep the city focused and fiscally sound. I take the role of stewardship and oversight of the taxpayers’ dollars as paramount to serving effectively.


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