To help our community members make informed choices in the upcoming November 2, 2021, election, we asked candidates running for local seats to participate in our Candidate Forum to help you get to know them better. Today, meet David Anderson.
With a message built around unity, Kalamazoo Mayor David Anderson is looking to keep the mayoral role he has filled for the past two years by focusing on a positive future for the city he currently leads. “I am by nature an optimist: a person who is ambitious for my community. Part of the job of mayor is being a cheerleader for the city, highlighting opportunities, and bringing people together to solve our problems as a community,” said David. The experience he would continue to draw on, if elected, includes having spent 16 years on the Kalamazoo City Commission, two as Vice Mayor and two as Mayor, and serving as Director of Housing and Facilities at Kalamazoo Integrated Services. David’s top motivators for leading in what he describes as the “big/little city” of Kalamazoo are like many of those currently faced by cities around the nation. “My immediate concerns are gun violence and safe neighborhoods. We also need a thoughtful, stable, forward-looking City Commission focused on making Kalamazoo a great place for everyone who lives here and for anyone who wants to live here.” Learn more about David’s plans as you read on.
DISTRICT POSITION REPRESENTS
City of Kalamazoo
WHAT ARE THE TOP ISSUES/CONCERNS THAT MOTIVATE YOU?
My immediate concerns are gun violence and safe neighborhoods. We also need a thoughtful, stable, forward-looking City Commission focused on making Kalamazoo a great place for everyone who lives here and for anyone who wants to live here.
SHARE YOUR PAST EXPERIENCES OR SKILL SETS THAT MAKE YOU A GREAT FIT FOR THIS ROLE.
To date, I have spent 16 years on the Kalamazoo City Commission; two as Vice Mayor and two as Mayor. Professionally, as Director of Housing and Facilities at Kalamazoo Integrated Services, I manage a multi-million-dollar budget and have a broad range of experience in building community team relationships.
WHY DO YOU BELIEVE THE KALAMAZOO REGION IS THE BEST PLACE TO LIVE AND WORK?
I always say we’re a big/little city. People who live in Kalamazoo have a special commitment to the city─those who are volunteering and financially supporting institutions or the arts and the community at large. People care about this city and are willing to work to make it better.
WHAT DO YOU FEEL ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FACING OUR COMMUNITY?
One major challenge is broadly providing a sense of hope and opportunity for all. We must make sure that people take advantage of educational and employment opportunities here and are prepared for them. We also need to deal with a sense that not everyone has been included in our community.
HOW DO YOU PLAN TO SUPPORT THE GROWTH OF THE ECONOMY IF ELECTED?
I plan to continue enhancing the city’s investment in infrastructure. That includes water services, streets, sidewalks, and safe neighborhoods and also by supporting and encouraging small businesses and entrepreneurship and partnering with large local employers for continued growth.
HOW WILL YOUR ELECTION IMPACT THE REGION’S WORKFORCE AND COMPANIES WHO CALL SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN HOME?
I am by nature an optimist: a person who is ambitious for my community. Part of the job of mayor is being a cheerleader for the city, highlighting opportunities, and bringing people together to solve our problems as a community.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE MEASURES AT THE LOCAL LEVEL?
The city recently created several positions that are 100 percent focused on diversity, equity, and inclusivity. We now have a diversity, equity, and inclusivity director and are undergoing an organization-wide evaluation of where we stand on those issues. The city will release our climate action plan draft this fall.
OFFER AN EXAMPLE OF WHEN YOU PERSONALLY USED HONESTY AND INTEGRITY TO SOLVE A VITAL ISSUE.
The issue of homelessness in Kalamazoo is an example where being honest and direct has made a great deal of difference in bringing together a broad coalition of organizations to help find solutions.
HOW CAN ELECTED OFFICIALS CREATE A PLACE WHERE WORKING TOGETHER TOWARDS MEANINGFUL PROGRESS IS THE PRIORITY?
My message is all about unity, because our problems are big enough that without communication and cooperation, we will not be successful.
IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU PLAN TO CONNECT WITH CONSTITUENTS TO RECEIVE THEIR INPUT?
Our City departments are involved in extensive community outreach. I receive input via phone communications, social media, email, written letters, and public meetings and through City Commission meetings. In addition, I’m at every community event I can possibly attend for neighborhoods, businesses, and forums for special focus issues like environmental impacts.