Jason Flanigan – Grandville City Council Candidate

I have been married to my wife Erika for nine years. We have two stellar daughters, Kennedy (6) and Harper (4). I am originally from the east side of the state, but have called Grandville home for the past decade. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University in Mechanical Engineering. I also received a Master of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Illinois Springfield. I recently completed a certificate in Data Analytics from MIT. For the past 12 years I have worked as an Engineer. I started my career in manufacturing before transitioning to work for my current employer, Meijer. I have extensive experience in capital planning, continuous improvement, project management, and managing spending in industries with tight margins. I serve on the Sustainability Council at Meijer where I am leading our exploration of the renewable energy market. I am also the founder of Weathered Road, a small business that specializes in weather predictions along travel routes via a mobile application.

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Can you give an example of how you have contributed to the community in the past?

I was recently appointed to the planning commission here in Grandville where I hope to put my interests and skills in future planning to good use. I also regularly attend City Council meetings to stay engaged and educated on issues facing the city. My wife and I volunteer in our daughter’s classroom, and I am continually blown away by the engagement of all of the parents! With educators and parents like we have in this community, it is no surprise Grandville Schools are a destination district.

Some of my professional work has also benefited the community. I have improved and expanded manufacturing processes in the Grand Rapids area that led to job growth. I have created and completed energy savings projects that have reduced energy consumption enough to power over 6,000 homes. I have also led the effort to transition away from harmful refrigerant gases to lower the environmental impact of refrigeration systems on our communities.

What do you feel is the most important attribute you bring/would bring to the City Council and why is that attribute important?

I believe that the most important attribute that I would bring to the Council is my analytic and technical abilities. I feel that my experiences and capabilities have prepared me for the top issues facing our community in the coming future: failing infrastructure, sustainable living, and protecting civil liberties (privacy in an ever increasingly digital world). My experiences in capital planning have prepared me for handling failing infrastructure. My experiences in energy reduction, carbon reduction, and renewable energy have prepared me for handling sustainability issues facing our community. My experiences as a data and computer scientist have prepared me for handling new concerns that we have yet to face in this digital age.

Is there something you would most like to preserve about your community?  Anything you would like to change?

The thing that I would most like to preserve is our natural resources. There has never been a more important time to focus on protecting our environment. I believe that I have the experience and passion to protect our greatest resource. I will make sure that no one takes advantage of Grandville.

What I would like to change is our access to these splendors. I would like to improve access to the Grand River. I would like to improve trail and park maintenance. I believe one of the things that makes a city great is it’s walkability. I will work to improve our walkability here in Grandville. It’s hard to connect with your community when you’re commuting to work or running to one of our big box retailers, but it’s impossible to not connect with your community when you’re out for a walk or a bike ride on our trails or in our downtown.

Do you have experience working in groups or with diverse interests?

I have extensive experience working with diverse groups. I regularly work on cross functional teams. The teams are made up of representatives from varying parts of the business and everyone has a different role to play. I have learned when to support and when to lead. I have also learned that a team is most effective if everyone feels included and heard.

On a larger scale, my time in manufacturing has exposed me to working on teams with cultural diversity. I have worked in several states and many diverse areas, both urban and rural. I have completed projects around the country and also overseas. I was able to gain experience and see first-hand cultural differences and the strength that comes with a diverse team, especially working in the food industry. Tastes and preferences vary significantly and we could not have been successful if it wasn’t for working with diverse teams.

I consider myself a lifelong learner and truly value my time spent on diverse teams because I feel that I am able to learn a lot from each unique perspective. I believe these experiences have equipped and prepared me to work towards finding the best solution for all, not just the few.

If elected, how will you be a positive representative of the City of Grandville and its citizens?

I believe the way that I can best represent the City of Grandville is by continuing to be a dedicated husband, father, and neighbor. I will vote my conscience. I will keep my word.

Now while I can’t promise that we will always agree on every topic, I can promise that I will always share my opinions and motivations in an open and honest format. I will always be there to listen to differing views. I am active on social media and maintain a website (jasonflanigan.com) where I regularly post my thoughts about issues facing the city. If elected I will continue this process.

I like this quote from Stephen Covey, “When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.” The current political climate lacks trust, and I believe it is impossible to move forward as a society without trust amongst citizens and their leaders. Empathy is what it will take to rebuild that trust. When we have compassion for each other, when we work to understand each other, we can move toward a solution for the greater good.