More people are lining up to oust Democrat-turned-Republican State Representative Roy Schmidt. Another candidate is kicking off his campaign Monday evening.
A few months ago, Schmidt caused chaos when he switched political parties just minutes before the filing deadline for candidates to appear on the ballot. The move left Democrats without a candidate and many Kent County Republicans with a candidate they’re not very excited about.
Keith Allard works for the state’s Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation. The 26-year old University of Michigan graduate will appear as an independent on the November ballot.
Allard says he’s ready to take on big reforms. He says the state spends way too much on the corrections (prison) budget. Plus, he says the bureaucracy is too big and public employees are paid too much.
"I have immense credibility on this issue, because I am a public employee and I’m prepared to stand up in front of people and say that I cannot justify why I should be compensated more than taxpayers who pay for our salaries,” Allard said.
Allard says he’s voted for Democrats and Republicans and is equally disgusted by both. He says politicians avoid working on tough policy changes and focus on petty fights.
He sees the party-switching debacle in Grand Rapids as a rare opportunity for an independent candidate to actually have a shot at winning.
“I would never want to run for office unless I could be completely honest with people. If you come up through the party system, that is just impossible,” Allard said. “The Democrats might not have a candidate on the ballot and Roy Schmidt is unacceptable.”
Democrat Winnie Brinks is hoping to get enough write-in votes in the August Primary to qualify for the November ballot. Grand Rapids’ businessman Bing Goei is hoping to beat Schmidt in the Republican primary election in August. Two other third-party candidates are also in the race.