Kent architecture

A Navy veteran and a construction worker face off on August 2 in Kent County’s 19th District primaries

KENT COUNTY, MI — Two Republican challengers face off in the Aug. 2 primary to represent the party in November for the 19th district on the Kent County Board of Commissioners.

Jeremiah Bannister, a Navy veteran, takes on Samuel R. Carstens, a construction worker, in the August 2 election. The winner will face incumbent Kent County Commissioner Dave Bulkowski or Kris Pachla in the November 8 general election for a seat on the county’s board.

The Kent County Board of Commissioners’ new redistricted 19th District encompasses all of East Grand Rapids and part of Grand Rapids along its western border.

MLive/The Grand Rapids Press has partnered with the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Michigan to provide candidate information to readers. Each candidate was asked to state their positions on a variety of public policy issues listed below.

Carstens did not respond to requests to complete the voter guide questionnaire for readers that Bannister completed below.

All answers in the voter guide were submitted directly by the candidate and have not been edited by the League of Women Voters, except for necessary clipping if an answer exceeds character limits. Spelling and grammar have not been corrected. Publication of candidates’ statements and opinions is in the public service interest only and should NOT be considered an endorsement. The League never supports or opposes candidates or political parties.

Information on other state, county and local primary races can be found at

Why are you running for election?

Jeremy Banister:

Grand Rapids is our home. It’s where we raise our children and go to church, and it’s where our firstborn Sami died (aged 12) of brain cancer. And we are proud of Kent County! Proud of its people, its culture(s) and the way it strikes a delicate balance between “Wall & Main”, small shops and Big Biz, even landscapes and cityscapes. But there are, as in any great and growing metropolis, things that compel people to give their gifts and talents in the collective effort of a polis striving for the common good. For some, it’s about raising kids, working hard, and going to church. For others, it’s all that… and a little more. I hope to help with that little extra, playing a part in paying for it in the county commission arena. I’m principled, but I’m non-partisan, and I care more about the county than the political parties. Whether it’s roads, agriculture, architecture, public safety, schools, or anything else, I only want to do my best for the common good.

What is the biggest challenge facing the office you are looking for? How are you going to fix it?

Jeremy Banister:

It would be my first time in public office. Sure, I’ve studied political economy and distributive justice, and I’ve reported on local politics for years, but it’s different when you’re in this seat, talking with others, that you listen to them, roll with the punches, and make a decision. A decision that, while personal, has county-wide ramifications. It’s an arduous (even sacred) task, so while I’m sure there will be times of great difficulty – even occasions when I’d better just say I’m sorry – these are things you learn really experience, the kind of risk that leads to success, failure, and the spectrum in between. Also, I don’t speak Spanish, which I think would be very helpful. Finally, I would need to get to know the other commissioners, which is pretty standard, but a bit of a challenge in a time of partisan division and suspicion.

What strategies would you use to remain responsive and accountable to the public between elections?

Jeremy Banister:

While I was a critic of Justin Amash, I appreciated his willingness (and habit) to publish the wording of the things he voted on, as well as the reasons for his decisions. I would also seek honest and sincere opinions from those opposite, charitably granting the best possible rendition of their position, inviting even those who disagree (i.e. politicians, activists, groups/organizations) to dialogue with me. And I’m a research nerd, so I would never turn down material, even (and especially) from those with an opposing point of view. Overall, I want to be humble, honest, and as transparent as I believe this office warrants me to be.

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Learn more about MLive:

The incumbent will face off on August 2 in Kent County’s 19th District Democratic primary

3 Democrats vying August 2 for a chance at the Grand Rapids State House seat

Michigan Voters Guide 2022 by MLive, League of Women Voters