Local activist encourages community involvement in local government

Jones also highlighted the city’s participatory budgeting initiative, hoping to see more people involved in deciding where the city spends its public funds.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It was the third straight night of walking in downtown Grand Rapids. The group wants police reform and a man encourages people to make a change at the ballot box.

Deandre Jones wants a seat at the table.

“There’s a saying that if you don’t have a seat at the table, then you’re on the menu,” Jones says.

The table of local authorities.

Jones actively participates in Grand Rapids City Commission meetings and public comment sessions. But he realizes that many don’t know this opportunity exists.

“I didn’t know about the city commission until I was told to go when I was working for a local nonprofit,” Jones says.

And some don’t even know their own local politicians.

“Last night I argued with a man who thought Gretchen Whitmer was the mayor of GR,” Jones says. “It’s a problem. It’s a problem, I can’t make this up.”

So, at each rally, he used his platform to urge more people to participate in their local elections.

“Its 200,000 people in the city of GR and only 10,000 people voted for the seat of mayor,” says Jones. “That’s at least 190,000 people who didn’t vote, but then we complain about why we don’t see a change.”

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Saying it’s not just about the President’s or Governor’s races.

“They don’t feel like the lower seats actually matter, but those lower seats are the people that directly affect your day-to-day life,” Jones says.

And hoping that at a committee meeting in the future, he will see some new faces in the crowd.

“We need to unite, we need equity, we need diversity, we need inclusion,” Jones says.

Jones also highlighted the city’s participatory budgeting initiative, hoping to see more people involved in deciding where the city spends its public funds.

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