Home Nonviolent defense Marshall Kilgore is a candidate for the Kalamazoo Town Commission

Marshall Kilgore is a candidate for the Kalamazoo Town Commission

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KALAMAZOO, MI – Marshall Kilgore is one of eight candidates for the Kalamazoo City Commission.

Voters in the city will elect four of the eight candidates on November 2 to open seats on the municipal commission, including a partial two-year term.

Kilgore, 22, has a bachelor’s degree in political science and communication from Western Michigan University, he said. Kilgore responded to questions in an MLive poll sent to election candidates.

Under family, Kilgore lists his mate Rosie, as well as his mother, father and two sisters.

He is the director of advocacy at Outfront Kalamazoo, the main LGBTQ + resource center in southwest Michigan, Kilgore said.

Asked about his experience, Kilgore said he was a board member of Read and Write Kalamazoo, a founding member of the Michigan Domestic Violence Awareness Rally, a member of the NAACP and first vice chairman of the Kalamazoo Democratic Party. He previously served as President of Family Relations at Delta Sigma Phi, President of Diversity and Inclusion at the Western Student Association, a member of the Relay For Life team and a first year educator at Western Michigan University.

MLive sent out polls to candidates running for election in Kalamazoo town. Here are Kilgore’s answers in his own words. The answers have been slightly modified:

Why should voters elect you?

Simply, I love our city. I am a proud graduate of Western Michigan University and a resident of the Vine neighborhood. I have been fortunate to have made lasting connections and memories in places like Bronson Park, where I have organized several rallies to uplift our city. Kalamazoo is a place where we can tackle some of the challenges and hardships that we see in the world. I believe that if we work together we can be happy and enjoy the place where we work, play and live. I present myself to be a listening ear and an agent of change for our fellow citizens. As a community organizer, I know firsthand the challenges we face and I am ready to face them!

If you are elected, what will be your three priorities?

1. Climate change: a.) Work for one hundred percent clean energy: this should be seen in our buildings and transport – we should work to be carbon neutral by 2030. b.) Tackle racism environmental: your quality of life, air and water should not be determined by the color of your skin. c.) Support the Green New Deal locally.

2. COVID-19: We are experiencing payment defaults and tax foreclosures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. People can’t work, can’t pay their taxes, and we need a leader who will work with people to give them time to settle their accounts. I would use the city’s surplus funds to help citizens in need.

3. Support local small businesses. Our local economy has taken a hit over the past two years as we struggle to navigate the COVID-19 crisis. I will work hard to provide incentives to businesses that create jobs and make a positive contribution to our economy. Inspirational entrepreneurs and businesses old and new will help us be proud of our city.

Have you identified any failures or gaps in the way public security officers or city officials responded to protests held in Kalamazoo in the summer of 2020? If so, where did they occur and what needs to be done to resolve these issues?

As an advocate for the community who participated in peaceful protests in our city, the injustices that occurred in August 2020 were unacceptable, shocking and heartbreaking.

The OIR group report, which was created by the outside company hired to investigate police responses to Kalamazoo, gave the town a 111-page report. This report included 40 recommendations. I encourage the city to follow these recommendations. (See the full report at http://www.kalamazoocity.org/oirreport)

I would like to stress the recommendation not to use pepper spray as a first line of defense. This would help prevent the use of excessive force in the form of chemical munitions. In addition to providing training to supervisors on the need to exercise discretion before approving arrests of journalists and legal observers for non-violent offenses at these events.

These recommendations cover two unacceptable events that I observed with the public in August 2020.

City leaders and the KDPS must also increase their communication and try to foster a positive relationship with our residents. The effective evaluation of the OIR report is only the first step to be consistent and fair for our city.

How can the city solve its shortage of affordable housing?

I believe our homeless neighbors are facing hardships some of us will never experience, whether it is job loss or the disease of drug addiction, we must rise to that challenge. The hard-working people in our cities can barely keep up with skyrocketing rents and mortgages. As a tenant, I know how frustrating it is. As a community, we can meet this challenge by supporting: a.) Local businesses creating jobs, rehabilitation efforts and mental health resources. b.) In addition to improving these measures, we must also continue to build additional affordable housing. These units must also be at a lower price than what we are currently seeing in some of our units which are meant to be affordable. If we contribute to these areas, we can help our homeless neighbors find positive and lasting solutions.

Do you think the city should be more transparent with the citizens? If yes, how ?

When important decisions are made, citizens should have a role to play every step of the way. For example, the city has done a good job of being transparent when developing the “Plan Imagine Kalamazoo 2025”. This involved comments and feedback from our community. I plan to have town halls, coffee hours and run a quarterly newsletter to keep our citizens involved and informed of city decisions.

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